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This evening, Lucy was invited to a reception with wine and appetizers. She invited me to go along, so we had lots of tasty treats and wine. The reception was for people with investments through the local credit union. Weird.

Earlier today, the Executive Advisory Council met to discuss UMass reorganization issues. It turns out that there is a group of trustees that is absolutely committed to the idea of having UMass participate in Division 1A football. There have been two task forces -- the last less than 5 years ago -- that have made it very clear how unrealistic this is for UMass. But that doesn't appear to matter. The quote of the day: "They are on a mission to have 1A football -- over our dead bodies."

This whole week before our beach vacation is really weird. On Monday, the boys flew down to North Carolina on their own. They're having fun with the grandparents and we're having this odd, detached experience in our quiet empty house. Very unreal.

But I'm staying in touch with the boys because we've set up a new Muppyville MOO. Charlie and one of his cousins have been logging in and working on elaborating the new MOO. Their goal is to create an environment for Daniel's 4th grade class to explore in the fall. We've already got his teacher on board, so I think it will be a great thing.

I've set up moos about 4 times now. The first time was when Charlie himself was in 4th grade. I thought it would be a good way for the kids to learn about electronic chat in a relatively safe environment -- without any on-line predators. As it turned out, one of the kids became an on-line predator -- at least, he tried to use the environment as a way to exert power over others -- and eventually, I had to "newt" him. (If you "toad" someone, it's permanent, but if you "newt" someone, they can "get better".) I told him that if he wanted to visit Muppyville again, he'd have to ask his parents to speak with me. It took him more than a year to work up the courage to have his parents contact me.

Eventually, that muppyville quit working -- it got corrupted or something. So I set up a new one and told the three kids who were interested that they could try being the wizard this time -- I made 3 of them wizards. The system lasted less than one day before they destructively tested it into unresponsiveness. We tried again and it lasted a couple of days. So, we reverted to the original model, with only me being wizard. That one lasted a while, but eventually the kids got bored with it and it went down and I didn't bother to bring it back up.

But now Daniel's going into 4th grade. And Charlie wants him to have the Muppyville experience. So he's going to be the wizard this time. I've providing the technical support, but I'm mostly letting him run the show.

Everytime, I gear up, I go out and look to see what's new. I was pleased to discover Atlantis -- a new MOO client. It's really nice -- I particularly like the alert system and Growl notification stuff. I found a minor problem with how it interacted with the MCP (local editing) stuff in MOO, so I contacted the author, who volunteered to log into the MOO and check to see if she could replicate the problem. She found it and fixed it in nothing flat. Awesome!

Everytime, I wonder a bit if the lambdamoo software is just too old -- the MUSH and MUX stuff is still being actively hacked on. But I like the fact that the MOO system is relatively simple and doesn't include the money and killing commands. I think it would be a lot harder to get the school to take it seriously if students were "killing" one another.