Welcome to fall semester!

Back in Puli, and classes have started. All is going well, except that I’m busy moving lots of books! For friends and students who did not know, I am now an adjunct professor, following my retirement this summer. I’m glad to still be teaching and feel lucky to continue as part of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at Chi Nan!

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Summer, 2022

Summertime and we are back in the U.S. for the first time in 3 years. Always pleasant up north here where our guys are, especially compared to the tropicalness of Taiwan, but I’m sure some of my students and colleagues are enjoying the mountains of Nantou county as well. We will be back in September, hopefully having classroom classes again. Internet instruction doesn’t really do it for me, but we will do what is necessary. Hope to do a few posts before then. We’ll see how that goes, I guess.

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What’s going on elsewhere

I’ve let this blog grow a little moss this semester, so I will try to catch up on what I’ve done elsewhere. There has been lots to keep busy with, but the only really visible things so far are two articles that I’ve published over at the Washington Decoded website. Both articles are on newly released material in the JFK Assassination Records collection, which I usually write about at my other blogsite, jfkarc.info.

The first article came out almost six months ago, in December 2021, and discussed what was then the current state of the JFK ARC.

Soon afterwards text from a little over 1400 records more was released by NARA, and attracted a fair amount of news coverage. Unfortunately, the quality of the coverage left more than a little to be desired. My second article took a look at why that was so and had some criticism for the way the JFK Collection has been handled by members of the media.

I’m still posting semi-regularly over at jfkarc.info, but probably will save extended commentary for the next scheduled releases, in December of this year. Will this be the final release from the JFK Collection? No way.

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Back on line (again)

We have been back to on line classes for a couple of weeks and will soon be at the end of the semester. I hope that everyone has been able to make the transition (again!) and that you have been able to keep up with classes and homework. One of my advisees was in quarantine, but is now out and back in the dorms, please everyone else take care too!

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Welcome to spring semester 2022!

Back in class again! Last semester had very few posts, hope to have a few more this semester. Some big changes are coming, more on that in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, stay healthy!

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Back in the classroom!

The new semester has started and we are now back where we belong–in the classroom! The first two weeks of our late breaking semester were online of course, and it was just enough to remind me of why I like meeting and teaching and talking with my students face to face. I predict a good semester, and I’m sure we’ll all enjoy it. Stay safe and healthy!

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Whoops! Almost forgot to put up my annual summer break post! The grades are in, now go relax. I’m revising a book, so no breaks for me. I am still on campus this summer, if you see us out for a stroll say hey. Maybe I’ll even post a few notes at the Warren if time permits.

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The final final

Today is the last day of finals week, congratulations to everyone for making it through a challenging semester. The last four or five weeks online were especially challenging for me, hopefully my online-teaching skills are now considerably sharper than they were before!

Grades will still take a few days. I expect these will be done sometime next week, so please be patient a little longer. In the meantime, I hope you all have a relaxing summer break, and I’ve got my fingers crossed for regular classes next semester. For our overseas students who are sort of stuck in Taiwan, keep in touch, I’m still on campus too, so don’t forget to wave hi and let me know how things are going!

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The mysterious read-only vim file

My standard text editor is Vim (now 8.X). When Vim is set up correctly for my language environment, it is a reliable workhorse that does pretty much what I want.

However, there is one glitch I have run across more than once: I open a text file in the usual way, and Vim insists that it is read only, despite any and all tricks I try to turn back into a regular writeable file.

Today, however, I noticed that the read-only file had what Vim calls an “illegal byte” in it. My understand is that this is a byte appearing in a string which Vim is unable to interpret using the fileencoding it is set for. People who mess with Chinese in more than once flavor (Big-5, GB, Hong Kong etc) can easily run into this situation. I noticed this because “illegal byte” appeared in Vim’s status line, including the line number. Despite the hint, however, “illegal bytes” are sometimes hard to spot: look for a question mark where there shouldn’t be one.

It seems that an illegal byte is at least one cause for a file to persistently open in read-only mode. Get rid of the cursed thing and save the file using -w! This resolved my problem for several files.

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The first week of online classes

A big thanks to my Chi Nan students for their enthusiastic participation in our first week of online classes. And an even bigger thanks to my TA Hsin-yi for her help in setting up the Big Blue Button on Moodle and monitoring my classes to help out with some of the problems that popped up.

Taiwan continues to work its way through this outbreak of Covid-19. Stay safe, everyone!

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