It's Time to Shoot for the Big Time

Well, at this point in time I’m not sure anyone noticed, but I moved this site from WordPress to Drupal, while still keeping essentially the same template. I don’t think anybody has actually read anything I’ve put up here, but that’s probably because I’ve never bothered to promote Entrepreneur Fathers. You see, this has been a project that got pushed to the back burner over six months ago, and I just haven’t managed to spend any time on it. But this past week my wife challenged me to finally get off my butt (or more accurately, to put it in my office chair) and do something about what I’ve been yammering on about for over a year. If I really think this site is part of my mission (and I do), it’s time for the rubber to meet the road.

I really have been busy in the past few months, especially the past four weeks. I drove from Phoenix to Salt Lake City for the Thomas Jefferson Education Forum, where I had a “vendor” table for the Thomas Jefferson Education Consortium and Rachel presented one of the sessions. It was a great event, even though I wasn’t able to attend a single session, other than Oliver DeMille’s keynote address, but I did get to spend a lot of my time networking with other “leaders” in the TJEd community. That’s really my favorite part, anyway. It worked out wonderfully. Rachel’s honorarium offset most of the gas money we needed to drive up, and we got to spend Friday and Saturday night in the Hilton, gratis. (I have some incredibly exciting news about a few things that happened behind the scenes at this year’s SLC Forum, but I can’t say any more about it until it becomes official.)

The Drupalcon Boston 2008 Attendees

Rachel and I then spent all of Sunday driving home (about fourteen hours). That gave me just enough time to kiss the kids, bolt down something to eat, and repack my bags to head to the airport to catch a red-eye flight to Boston for Drupalcon 2008. Here I must say that it is a wonderful thing to get to travel to something I would have paid for myself (finances permitting, of course) and get to put it on the company tab. That’s one of the perks I will miss when I finally give up the corporate life. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to really sleep on the flight, so I arrived in Boston with 45 minutes of sleep and no time to check into the hotel. Paul Eden (my fellow IT programmer at Goodwill) and I ended up dragging our luggage around the Boston Convention Center throughout the day. Well okay, it wasn’t a full day. Shortly after lunch I completely ran out of steam and we grabbed a bus back to the airport where we could take a shuttle to the hotel and crash for the afternoon. I loved the convention, but I was too shy to make any new friends. I’ll work on that next time.

That's me on the right and Paul on the left.

Boston was great! Being my first trip outside of the non-coastal West (Yes, I know it’s pathetic that at age 37 I had never been to either coast.), Paul and I ditched a “keynote” address and one session that didn’t have anything we wanted to see to walk the Freedom Trail. I just wish I’d had a camera with me, so that I could have a few interesting pictures to post with this entry. Paul did take some video footage, but it turned out really badly. For the most part though, the sessions were really useful, at least for getting a good overview of what Drupal had to offer and what modules were available to get things done. All in all, Drupalcon was awesome! It met my expectations and gave me the familiarity I need with the platform to get started on all the technical things I need to do with my sites.

About two weeks after I got back from Boston, Rachel and I put on our own TJEd Forum, here in Arizona. Well, that’s not quite accurate. Actually, it’s wildly inaccurate! There was an entire committee that put the Southwest TJEd Forum together, and everyone worked really hard. Rachel and I just seemed to end up as the de facto contact people, and we acted as liaisons between our out-of-town presenters and other committee members. Of course we also exacerbated the problem by inviting everyone involved to a dinner at our house, the night before. The evening turned out great, but sometimes I think we’re truly insane. The Forum on Saturday turned out to be a smash hit, and that made all the work and stress worthwhile. Now if I can just get the MP3s done for the audio recordings…

Well now, that was a really long-winded way of trying to prove that I’ve been busy, and I’m not really sure why I bothered. Oh well, now you know. I really was busy, at least this last month. I guess I’d better get back to my story, now.

Spending time at two TJEd forums and Drupalcon, all within a short period of time, got a lot of not-quite-related thoughts sloshing around together, but with some interesting results. I figured out a basic plan of how to make pretty much all of my web sites work in Drupal, which (in the long-run, at least) will ease a lot of my maintenance problems. I can also train other people to enter, format, approve, moderate, munge, or do whatever to content for various sites, i.e. I don’t have to do everything myself, at least not forever. There are also an awful lot of free modules for Drupal that can add most of the functionality I generally need (e.g. downloads, shopping cart, user management, restricted areas, etc.), without my having to program it or make it work with what I’ve already done. In short, my choice to migrate everything to Drupal was validated. It also became crystal clear that TJEd.org is not living up to what the community needs from it, much less what its potential is. And being alone in a hotel suite for nearly a week gave me a perfect opportunity to start some long overdue planning. Who would have thought that sleep deprivation and solitude would combine to help me get moving on my mission? Serendipity is a beautiful thing!

Now that I’m looking back over this post, I think it’s time to end for the night. I need to be up tomorrow at 4:30 (Oh, the joys of the corporate life—at least when you can’t stand to drive in heavy traffic.), and I really won’t have time to do another subject justice in the next few minutes. So I’ll just end here, and save any further ideas for another day.

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