blivet – 6/15/2001

Failure at nonconscious goals explains negative ‘mystery moods’. The basic premise here is that we form a pattern of minor goal setting early in our lives – say, party attendance in college. Later, these ‘Pavlov’s goals’ (not their term, I’m sure they would come up with a better one) continue to be made, so when we miss a goal we didn’t realize our unconscious set we become crabby. I saw this earlier at MetaFilter, but Al just jogged my memory , so I finally read it. Could be… It does reinforce the advantage of meditation in bringing these things to the conscious level so they can be dealt with.

Rafé has a great point:

All roads led to the Urban Legends Reference Pages. I’ve seen two pointers to this site to debunk urban legends this week, and I’d never seen it at all before. The writeups for the two stories I’ve read (about the 1895 exam and standard railroad gauge) have been excellent. Bookmark this site so that you can quickly and easily quash those whacky emails that your non-net savvy friends and family members are constantly forwarding to you.

garret has a good observation about the urban legends site that I didn’t think to bring up. Independent verification. Verify, verify, verify! I was thinking more in terms of something to point your crazy^H^H^H^H^H wonderful aunt who just got email and sends you the ‘sick little Craig Shergold is collecting business cards’ on the heels of the Nieman-Marcus cookie recipe and wants to know why you’re raising such a fuss. I never used the actual word crazy to her face! I may have spoken it aloud to the monitor, how was I to know you were on the phone with her? (more on fernand braudel)

Encyclopaedia Britannica announced it will resume printing of its world-renowned 32-volume encyclopedia in the fall of this year — the first published revision since 1998.” I should have noted this yesterday, like the Alsop story. via Scripting News

I have this image in my mind of a young child in our house one day reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. I’m happy the print edition will continue.

Monyt Python’s Holy Grail will be back in theaters. via slashdot

Al highlights balsamic vinegar. Where’s the tomatoes?

Make ’em sweet, you never know which words you’ll have to eat… Stewart Alsop on … how good Macs are? Heh.

Yikes! Halfway through June. Several things are in motion, the thesis, the Burnt Rock publication, and multiple contracts-in-review. Stay focused out there. Which one of us is he talking too?

blivet – 4/29/2001

Ack! A brief calendar scan shows May Day/Beltane, the National Day of Prayer, and Cinco de Mayo queued up for the coming week and Mother’s Day on the 13th. It’s not hard to figure out which one triggered the Ack! since I’ve not ordered anything for Mom (or Mom-to-be).

Susan’s Grandfather is improving. Yea!

Dave Singer has taken Defenestration Corner to Hong Kong for the 10th W3C meetings. If the Singers swing back through Las Vegas, I hope we can get together. I hope a bunch of us can get together!

Doug Miller (who writes Erehwon Notebook) has some interesting observations that begin with simplicity that I suspect might resonate with Dave. They certainly did with me. As well, EN has taken a change of pace and veered towards the minimal, which I also like.

Tonight I spoke over the phone with Jon Rager, my first cousin, for the first time in twenty years. It was very, very good. He sounds like his Dad, he said I sounded like mine. I guess if anybody knows that, we would.

Things have been pretty busy around here, I apologize for the lack of substantiative postings of late. Thanks for stopping by and please know I’m trying to read your weblogs too. Thanks!

blivet – 3/12/2001

Tired beyond belief. Too much on the plate and not enough time on the pillow. I’ve been seeing lots of great pointers and discussion catalysts but don’t have the mental horsepower to rise to the dialog. Sorry. This is not liable to change in the near future. I have to get the analysis finished for the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting next month – coincident with that thesis thing. Its not a good feeling when your default response is ‘huh?’. I’d love to talk with several of you via your (and my) dg, but I have to get some sleep.

The presentation went OK. Not great, but OK. I had my first attack of stage fright in over 12 years. When the lights went down, there were no lectern lights. Suddenly I understood why others were having such problems. I already had a kit together of extra laser pointers, extension cords, extra copies of the speaking points, bulbs for the projector, overheads made from the Powerpoint slides in case the computer or projector died. I thought I had everything covered. Murphy was an optimist! I’ve never been unable to read the materials I took to the podium with me. Now, the Mini-Mag™ flashlight goes in that kit too. Experience helps prevent mistakes. How do you get experience? By making mistakes. When your acquaintances say ‘great talk!’, but your friends say ‘what happened?’, you know. Its one thing to disappoint others, another to know you could have done better. Oh well. There’s always the next one. Onward!

I’m still here. DNS is back up. Seems some security patches weren’t installed on a server or two at the ISP and some routine exploits that shouldn’t have worked, did. It doesn’t matter what your PR says if you don’t pay attention to those details.

blivet – May your new year not suck

May your new year not suck comes from Doc Searls. I can’t improve on that sentiment, but I would leave you an image from Thoreau’s Walden. May the streams of your life overflow, flooding the areas around them. May you find your life and the lives around you richer and more joyful than you dared imagine. May you find yourself with upraised clenched fists shouting Yes!

Audrey and I, along with the vast and talented staff here at blivet, wish everyone a healthy and Happy New Year!

Kilshore also pointed me to Doc’s log by bringing up several Quaker-related sites.

Doc mentions “In Quaker meetings, one is moved to speak only if one can improve on the silence.” This is something we teach overtly in Ch’an (Zen) as well, to raise awareness of the inner dialog so it can be stilled. Though if you come here very much you’d never know it. Many Monastic orders (the Benedictines spring to mind) overtly foster this through vows of silence. Its hard to kill the ego if you’re always letting it frolic about. Not improving on the silence is anathema to most ‘business’ meetings. Leadership qualities often seem to be recognized by upper management through excess comment polishing during staff meetings. Leaders listen, then improve upon the silence if necessary. At least, thats how I see it.

Al says: Thank you, each and every one of you, for sharing this place with me. Good Sir, it is we who thank you for having a place so companionable to share.

… Everything is possible. I always enjoy reading what Commander Dave has to say.

Likewise with Andrea. Happy New Year to you and André too!

I haven’t made an appointment to be evaluated for sleep apnea yet (it may be that my wife is too patient, it may be that I need to be urged a bit if I’m not going to take the initiative), but I decided to try those adhesive strips that you put on your nose while you sleep. The idea is that they help keep the airflow going through the nose, thus discouraging the mouth breathing that is snoring’s precursor. I was very impressed. Last night was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months. Well, there was the small matter of Mr. ‘I’m so happy to be home with you’ cat walking on my head, but that was unrelated. Actually, at 14 pounds (5.23 kg) he is no small matter when he is on your head. The only downside to those strips I see (but a big one) is that even following the recommended procedure of ‘remove in the shower or while washing your face’ I managed to remove the upper couple of layers of epidermis off my nose. It was quite painless and I was blissfully unaware until I splashed my face with the soapy water. Then I became aware. I think that will be the extent of this patient’s trials with the adhesive strips. Later: Al is right, and thankfully, his urging is polite as well…

SirDeath, Audrey, and I just got back from seeing Chocolat. I think it was perfect little magical fable, just perfect. I recommend it highly. A lot of people on the IMDB discussion group seem to be down on the film because it was shallow or not done in French with subtitles because it is set in a rural French village. Another claims that the performances were ‘excruciating’ while Dame Judi Dench was ‘merely bad’. Whatever. Obviously your mileage may vary.

I’ve been enjoying the quotes garret currently has in the random rotation at dangerous meta. Chief Joseph, Chief Seattle, Wovoka, Thayendanegea, Black Hawk. Great stuff!

This will probably be it for the year 2000 edition of blivet. We’re going spend a quiet evening at home. If you’re going out to celebrate, please use a designated driver. Alcohol and motor vehicles are a very poor form of natural selection.

Oops, I lied. I was having a look at my Site Meter referrals (that rainbow thingie over on the right) for the last couple of weeks and noticed a google (thru yahoo) search for “suppressing libido”. The stream of searches for “Harry Potter” and “Penis Puppeteers” are one thing, that has been pretty constant. But as for suppressing libidos, well, I’ll leave that for others to advocate. I still have never figured out where the “nude Japanese” searches of a couple of months ago came from. (now I guess they will be back …) Just as a postscript, I think the libido suppression thing came from mentioning Kellog’s creation of Corn Flakes during the ‘obsession with colon cleanliness and bowel movements during the late 19th century’ from several months ago. Or something like that.

I’m going for real now. I hear The Iron Chef marathon going in the other room. Be careful out there, I want to see you in 2001. Thanks for a great year. –Hal


Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration / Draft #3 by Jon Udell. yes, yes, yes! Dave, thanks for the pointer to this!

9 PM PDT It is raining!! Yea! It won’t last long but the cat came in damp and disgruntled and I can smell the wet sage. (Two empirical observations from which I can deduce rain.) Ahhhh.

[James at On Deciding … Better] After an interesting discussion about the ideological wars between Frequentists vs Baysians. (more …)

No rain to speak of today, at least in the NW part of town where I live and work. Audrey has to travel down south to the vicinity of the airport for her job where they apparently did get some rain. After 7 am it continued to get darker in the south while it dissipated in the north part of the valley. So the thunder was an empty promise and we ended up with no rain at the house. Bah.

Lots of good stories out there today, better commented on by a large number of the folks over there to the left. I’m able to read weblogs at work (a little) when I decide to take a break, but we’ve got so much to get done I don’t really want to take the time. I actually don’t want to be distracted by the web at work. Hmm, a part of me is amazed to see that because I am really enamored with the web. I guess I like archaeology more than even I realize sometimes.

** time out for work **

[Reuters] Pacific mood swings longer, deeper than thought. The Pacific is not only the world’s largest and deepest ocean but has mood swings that can last up to 70 years, according to research published on Tuesday. The phenomenon, known as Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) could provide clues that will help scientists better predict the Earth’s climate, said NASA oceanographer Yi Chao. Taking the pulse of the planetary mood … I’m reminded of Liet-Kynes, the half-Fremen planetary ecologist on Arrakis from Dune.

6:50 PDT THUNDER! YES!! We haven’t had rain for over 110 days, it’s time. Some context: we don’t get much rain in a year in the Mojave, less than 3 inches (about 10 cm).

via Rafé at Daily I learned that “The beta of, an online retail site created by a coalition of independent booksellers is now online. If you’re one of those people who hate because they’re killing off the indie bookstores, now you can order online.”

via garret I learned about “common dreams, breaking news and views for progressives.” Depending on your outlook, I suspect you will either be attracted or not.

Science Fiction Weekly Interview: “Actor Robert Beltran is refreshingly honest when it comes to Star Trek: Voyager. Stick a fork in it Braga, it’s done.” (Braga is the the producer of the Star Trek franchise.) I used to love Star Trek. I mean really love it. This was ten years ago when Star Trek: The Next Generation was the only other Trek out there. I used to go to conventions and had autographed pictures of the cast. I still have the autographed copies of the Peter David novelizations. Perhaps it was a Roddenberry thing that dissipated soon after he died, anyway I didn’t care about the story on Deep Space Nine and Voyager didn’t interest me at all. I joked that I had ‘got a life’. Then in the second season of Babylon 5 I awoke to that story and was rabid about that series. TV Science Fiction hasn’t caught me up since except for the X-Files which doesn’t quite feel like Science-Fiction to me.

There was a time ˆ the first couple of seasons of Beauty and the Beast, the second and third season of Babylon 5, the second through fourth season of Next Generation ˆ that my leisure time was filled with those stories and the characters. I’ve tried to give Farscape a chance as well as several other series, but in my view the stories just aren’t there. I’m ripe for a good tale to sweep me away for an hour a week. But its got to have the writing and compelling characters you care about, not just a setting with some actors that have french fries on their noses. original link to this story from Angus at Latté.

There are multi-layered clouds this morning, though it still fells muggy. Perhaps we’ll end our record breaking interval between rains today.

minivans …

i had the somewhat *opposite* problem. from doing many multi-city audiovisual shows, the advantages of a minivan were clear. easy to drive, good visibility, good power on the interstates, lots of room to store large items … and room for people to sack out.

trying to convince sandra, who saw them as ‘baby-mobiles’ … she was afraid of the FEMALE stigma put on minivans.

one test drive, compared to an suv, and she came over to my way of thinking.

if anyone has a problem with it, i guess i just ignore it. i consider a minivan the ‘station wagon’ of the millennium.

blivet on the 4th of July – American Independence

A lone voice in the View from an Iowa Homestead wilderness cries out: “The Metadata Plugin gets sorting and formatting support for the showrelated() macro. In plain English, this means that it’s trivial for me to show the last 20 updated pages for any section of my site. Or to sort pages that have the same keyword(s) as this page alphabetically by title.”

224 years ago: The Declaration of Independence

I ask yet again for the indulgence of all non-American readers for our national propensity to celebrate our own origin epic. To quote a thousand ethnographies: “Why do we do this? It is the way of my people.”

Please supervise your children with fireworks, swimming pools, and other bodies of water. The tradition of firework related injuries and maiming, drowning, and alcohol related deaths associated with the 4th is one that need not be maintained.

Alwin Goes To Hollywood. Go for it Al!


Paul Vigay’s Collection of Collective Nouns. Things like a conspiracy of ravens, a muster of storks, a skulk of foxes, a murder of crows … I love this stuff! link from Lark Farm.

Reading Code is Like Reading the Talmud – Tips for reading other people’s source code. from Joel based on emailed suggestions by Seth Gordon.

The sudden din of inactivity has me a bit off-balance. Three day weekends* are like that for me. I guess I’m defining myself overmuch by what I do at "work". Actually, thats good. it points out to me that I need to practice what I preach more. The key to centeredness after ‘returning to the market carrying a gourd’ is to use the periodic episodes of realizing your off center to snap back. Sometimes thats all it takes is the realization. The tendency to immerse yourself in hurriedness is profound, plus it feeds our sense of self-importance so satisfyingly (is that a word?). Hmpft. The tangents are so easy to come by. I just got distracted by my need to have a spell checker in IE so I could check that word. One of the guys in the back of the bus reminded me that I could be using Eudora’s built in spell checker and I retorted ‘I’m in a hurry!’. Hee hee. Oh we are a bit self important tonight aren’t we? Must be time for bed …

* It’s Memorial Day weekend in the USA, when we honor the men and women who have died in battle.

[Version Tracker] Theres a new release of WhatRoute 1.0b7 a Macintosh freeware utility for internet connection monitoring. New in this version is access to the new domain to location database Netgeo, as well as faster Map window drawing and new animation to routes plotted in the Map Window.

Happy birthday to Craig at Book Notes!

[Mojave, my Mojave] I had heard murmurings that the phone booth in the Mojave desert had been removed. Rafé reports "the removal of the phone booth at the request of the federal government because it attracted too much traffic (the area where the phone booth is now part of a national park)". I know this area well, and can confirm that the increased traffic can be attributed to the phone booth Web page. link from Rafé Colburn who in turn thanks Lake Effect. Update: Audrey tells me that this was on the news a couple of days ago. So many people were calling the phone booth that no one could call out. Kinda defeated the purpose…

The reunion was fun. Everybody is older and more responsible. Lots of kids and tales to tell. How did we get older?!?

blivet 5/12/2000

I spent a big hunk of the evening with some Archae buds. We hadn’t touched base with each other in a couple of weeks. The discussion was far-ranging and comfortable — knowing you’re accepted – that it’s not conditional. I told them about the events in our webworld, of fires and graphics and community, and a place to call your own inside this magic box with a wire attached to it. It really didn’t interest them but they knew it did me so they listened attentively. We also talked about catching fireflies as kids, watching storms build on the high plains, John Hartford and steamboats, and how we didn’t know what we would do if we couldn’t do archaeology. We listened to Patsy Cline and The Clash, Santana and Louie Prima. We are all so rich, all of us. Whether we have met or not.

I pleasantly browsed my friends weblogs. 🙂 The effect is strangely calming, strange only because it is people I don’t know face to face. It was that way back on Genie and CompuServe as well, with disembodied friends. Back in the pre-Internet days.

I’ve been remiss in reading many of the weblogs I usually frequent, I miss contact with these people like I miss contact with friends here in town. Among them are View From The Heart, array, Hack the Planet Prime, A Curmudgeon teaches Statistics, backup brain. Others I can’t remember the URLs for and so can’t list right now <DOH!> Tonight. I promise my friends, tonight. Right now I have an appointment with my cushion …

Thanks to Al over at View From The Heart for the kind mentions – please bear in mind that anyone who quotes The Mahabarata and Babylon 5 is probably just soft in the head … nice zeldman icon though, I hadn’t noticed that one. Hmm, Zenarchy

[MacWeek] Corel kills WordPerfect for the Mac. In a move that stuns no one, Corel (finally) officially kills what was once the best general purpose Macintosh word processor. Of course that was four years and two owners ago, in internet years that’s when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

It’s strangely calm in the desert this morning. I overslept, which seems to happen after we get wind. My sinuses react from the dust and I just feel thick, both mentally and physically. Today is the last day to prepare for Monday’s celebrity fest and the kickoff for Archae Week is this Sunday. Much to do today and I lost my usual hour and a half of reflection before things get going. Everything is just as it should be. It always is… its just a matter of seeing it that way. I must go. Have a good day wherever you are. I’ll post later.

Ruminations on a Suburban Lawn

It’s quiet around the house, everyone is tired. Well, the cat and dog are always asleep, but the bipeds are usually long gone by this time of day. Our little postage stamp of green in front of the house needs a bit of owner attention. It looks brown and patchy and some of the long stalks are sporting seed heads.

‘The Plan’ is to get rid of most of it and put a small desert wash out there with some Larrea, Erioginum, Artimesia, and annuals out there, leaving a patch of bunch grass up near the house [probably Buffalo Grass (Buchole dactyloidies)] for cooling and for the dog to use. He’s allergic to the grass we have in there now and its painful to watch him walk out on the grass to do what he has to do. I always imagine him saying "ouch, ouch, ugh, ow, ooh, ouch" as he gingerly makes his way to his preferred spot. He’s an old Welsh Corgi, he’s arthritic and often very uncomfortable. He gets more medical attention than Audrey and I do combined. I’m allergic to that grass for that matter, I’d like to see it gone.

I mentioned the Desert Demonstration Gardens at the Water District where I work. It’s a beautiful place with its primary mission to show that xeriscape doesn’t mean dumping a load of pink gravel on your front yard and spreading it to your property line. Anyway, they have an incredible assortment of what you can do to make a beautiful space while keeping what I like to call the ‘desert ethic’. There are several small plots of sod there, all lined up with gages that keep track of how much water the sod uses, the temperature at the surface, how much transpiration is taking place so you can tell if the sod will aggravate the humidity in your micro-climate. I spent a long time laying on those various sod patches to see which ones bothered me. I mean, what good is a lawn if you can’t lay on it and look at clouds, wrestle with the dog or kids on it, or walk barefoot in the gray desert pre-dawn coolness?

I was completely comfortable with the Buffalo Grass, I could lie on it face down inhaling the earthy aroma of loam and humus. I hadn’t smelled that for thirty years. I didn’t even get all the way down on the Bermuda and Fescue varieties. My palms and knees were already itching in the very small amount of time it takes to kneel, then lay down. They want a lot of water too, unlike the Buffalo Grass.

I like the idea of having a little patch of desert wash, even if its a trifle contrived in this cul-de-sac existence. There is great peace in the desert, a calmness unlike the manicured lawns I drive past to get home. There seems to be an overwhelming collective denial of being in the desert that permeates the town. It’s as though no one really wants to admit that they live here now instead of where ever they came from.

That shows up in strange ways, like few parks, no place for kids to play except the subdivision streets, no place to ride the bikes their parents or grandparents have bought for them. No place to be a kid. I didn’t wander through desert washes when I was growing up. The woods were a five minute bike ride from where I grew up. Heck, you could ride your bike for ten minutes in any direction from the center of town and be out of town. It was plains uplands one direction, but the woods were to the south which is where I usually went. If you kept going you’d come to the Marias des Cygnes river. I’m not sure if the French ever saw swans there though. I’ve seen Snowy Egrets down there in the spring, along with Greater and Lesser Herons, Sandhill Cranes, and lots and lots of ducks, Coots, Mergansers, Canvasbacks, geese, and once, 14 Whoopers.

The Whooping Cranes were a big deal for the ten days or so they were there. This was in the dead of the dark night of the extinction watch they were under during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Topeka TV and newspaper from the far off (40 miles away) state capital noted their presence, but our science teacher Miss Rioth (now Davies and a Ph.D. chemist at the University of Kansas) had told us they were there a couple of days before. It was like glimpsing something much, much larger than yourself, seeing these birds and knowing that they were teetering on the brink of extinction and that folks from Texas to the Arctic Circle were working to save them. They seemed pretty oblivious, though we had been cautioned not to disturb them so we didn’t. But if the canoe happened to drift through the cat-tails to within 30 yards or so of them, we’d let it. We’d just stay real still and not even whisper when we were that close, just watching. ‘Just passing by folks, no need for alarm, we’ll just drift on past in a bit. You all just go ahead and keep eating whatever it is you’re eating. Nothing to be concerned about here.’

Later, when we were long past them this verbal torrent would come out of us. ‘Did you see when that one ate that little root thing? Did you see when that one rubbed its wing with its beak? Did you see when that one told the other one this is my spot, you find your own spot? Did you see when that one put its head underwater and came up with that gnarly thing and ate it? Did you see when that one looked straight at us and then went back to what it was doing?’ Yeah, I saw. I saw it all. I still do.

The previous winter was unusually cold and unusually long. An Arctic Owl was spotted about 10 miles northeast of town after it apparently came down with the cold front. This was along the edge of the woods along the creek before you get to the old Culver place, about two miles past where my Grandparents lived. Those were neat woods, there were Bobcats up there too. But that’s another story.

I suppose I never even had a chance to be anything but a scientist. I suspect that the self-selection starts very young, with what intrigues you and what you like to do. I remember (probably with advantages) being interested in stuff that came from scientists. Dinosaurs, planets, the Space Program, wildlife, rocks, arrowheads, what happens to Mr. Schrödinger’s cat when we look in that box. No, I don’t think I ever had a chance to be anything else. I’m glad to be where I am.

I gotta go mow that lawn.