April 23, 2005

Hold the Pickles Hold the Lettuce

I already forgot my phone conversation with Uncle Rage in the car today. He invented two things. I remember the first one. As Jenna and I sat at the Sonic drive in stand, he mentioned that the Marburger might taste nice.

Marburger!?

I nearly fell out of the car. Marburger.



That's McDonald's latest, right? Big and Tasty and So Much More: the new Marburger--you'll never feel hungry again!

I want mine well done--no make that rare--no wait, raw.

You want flies with that?

And while you're at it, Super Size me.

Hey, Chris, I hear their coffee packs a wallop too.

For the life of me, I can't remember what our second phone jam was about.... But we talked a bunch about podcasting, and I wished I could have been casting right from sonic with my cell phone.

Daddy's Spanking

A wonderful post at Culture Kitchen about the USian public's proclivity toward the threat and power of the strong male hand.

I find myself wondering if America doesn't long for Daddy's spank. So many people bemoan the loss of order in this culture: the hard, unyielding discipline meted out by daddy, the kind that scared us, the kind that made us behave ourselves for fear of getting into trouble. In the last forty years, things have been more fluid, more yielding, more liquid, and increasingly, covered by the mucus of borderlessness, some in our culture seem genuinely grossed out. Female bodies are icky for some, and perhaps they feel as if they've been living inside a cunt. The shapeless feminine.


Read it.

Getting to Know All About You.

As writers, weblogging over time presents a unique quandry: How do we write sequentially in a way that is relevant to both first-time readers and long-time regulars. There are three groups of people who come here: first-timers/happen-to-wind-up-here folks, the I've-read-you-on-and-off-for-a-while-now folks, and the I-started-when-you-did folks. Each of these groups has a different context in which they understand me and what I write.

There are times when I know that I've written a post that, had I just happened upon my own blog as an outsider, would lead me to think I was a.) a jerk, b.) lame or c.) a genius. Of course, none of these things are completely accurate.

We really can't extract or create an accurate picture of a weblogger -- what he or she stands for or believes, what kind of voice we can expect as a visitor to this blogger's site -- without factoring in that blogger's unique voice and its evolution over time.

I think expectations today are that each post stands alone.

I think that can't be true.

I say this because yesterday I wanted to say:

read me.
read all of me.
don't stop reading me until you know me.
know me.
know all of me.
don't stop knowing me until I know you.


I guess my point is that I don't come here to be entertained, to read an author as I would read a novel or a piece of non-fiction.

I come here to read and understand what you say within the context of your life, your experiences.

I come here to know you.

As much as you will tell me.

That's why I first came.

That's why I still come.

April 22, 2005

Pod Questioning

More questions over at Pod Street. Thank you all for your lightning quick answers. Even time for passionate exchanges.

Odiferous Evening

I have been remiss in not posting about the night before last. Consider it my way of recovering.

I arrived in my subdivision Wednesday evening about 8:30 from my cherished therapy appointment to be greeted with a strong--and I mean strong--repulsive odor that seemed to be coming from nowhere and everywhere all at once.

It got worse and worse as I neared our driveway. Worse still when I pulled in the driveway. The gag reflex was in full gear by the time I hit the garage door opener. To my complete horror, the smell was INSIDE too.

Jenna, who had been with a sitter, met me at the downstairs door: MOM! It's the hamsters! They smell terrible!"

Racing thoughts: Undiscovered, rotten hamster baby corpses? Odor-reducing food not working? No. Wait. I wouldn't have smelled the odor outside if it were the hamsters.

Perplexed. Climbing the stairs. Sitter racing from the house--"I'm sure it's not your house, dear--it is a smell in the neighborhoood--someone burning or something." Trips down the stairs in her rush.

"Be careful now!" = Byebye nice sitter. Will you ever come back? I loved you.

Back to the smell.

I called our next door neighbor to see if he smelled it. No answer. Called the other-side neighbor to see if they smelled it. No answer.

They must be dead. Thought #2: Bio-terrorism.

Look out the window: Cars are passing by. Turn on the TV. No emergency broadcast system. Okay. So it's not the end of the world, so to speak.

Think think think.

Maybe it's gas--it does have that rotten egg smell. In which case, a gas leak is dangerous. Don't touch any light switches.

It's 9:30 when I decide to call the gas company to come investigate--make sure we're not about to be blown off the map. They get here around 10:00, and I meet the gas man outside.

"WSHEW!" he says. "I smelled this coming down the road--I've never smelled anything like it before, but I can tell you, it's not gas."

"Oh. So, do you know what it is?"

"No idea. It could be that run-off between your house and his [pointing to our neighbor] has a leak--smells like it could be a sewer leak, and in that case, sewer gas is just as dangerous."

"Will your little clicky thing pick it up if it's sewer gas?"

"It might."

He spends five minutes walking between our yard and the neighbors trying to get his device to register something, but nothing showed up.

"You may want to call water and sewer for cobb county. Something like this, they'll probably come out tonight. Tell them you had the gas company out and they thought the water guys should come out."

I thank him, and I take his advice.

By 11:00 or so the water people arrive. I meet them outside and ask if they smell the smell.

"We took care of it--your backyard neighbor was dumping into the storm drain, which runs right over there [pointing to the runoff between our houses] -- he said he had put some chemicals in his pool and was emptying in it. We told him he couldn't do that. And besides, I never smelled NO smell from pool chemicals like this."

Amen. And that idiot. This is the fourth year he's dumped his pool water on us.

But something's not right. Pool water doesn't smell like this.

It hits me.

"He has a pig. I don't mean a little pig. I mean a hog."

They stare at me.

"I'm saying, I don't know what he does with the manure."

More stares.

They don't get it. They want to be gone from my smelly abode. They tell me that if anyone gets sick, they'll have a report on the incidence at the water company. That one of them almost threw up over by the runoff. That they were going to go BACK to his house, now nearing midnight, and tell him not to do it again.

"It's the pig." That's all I said.

After some online research, we've developed a hypothesis: Our backyard neighbor had taken his chlorinated pool water and used it to wash pig manure down the storm drain next to our house.

Thing is, combining the methane-heavy manure with chlorine in an enclosed space like a sewer drain is just not a good idea. Neither is dumping hog manure on your neighbor.

The end of the story is so far Happy: We're still here.

But the ending of the pig's story may not be so happy: His days are numbered.

To the blackboard

I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.
I will be a good little weblogger and not offend the offensive.

Weblogging Frustrations Continued

As weblogging continues to evolve, so too do the social norms and mores that can't help emerge, I guess.

But more and more, I just don't get. In the early days, there were no rules. And tighter intimacy among bloggers created an environment where we spoke our minds, agreed, disagreed, clashed, bashed, inharently understood that one another's passions powered our writing, took it personally when someone took us to the carpet, but didn't let it cripple the relationship. Unless we didn't want a relationship. AND, that was fine too.

Now there are rules: Be civil. Don't argue. If you do argue, employ the rules of your college debating team. No ad hominem attacks. It is merely their words that are stupid, not them. State your arguments carefully. Back up what you say with statistics and research.

Hello, but if I wanted to go to work, I'd be at work.

If I wanted politics, I would have already sucked up.

This isn't my job site. This is the fucking Internet. Or is it now just one gigantic intranet of tightly-joined "opinion leaders?"

I know that when I disagree with something that someone writes, I don't cloak my dismay in "I believe the best way to..." or "In my opinion..." or "What it brings up for me is..." or "The way I see it is..."

THIS IS MY SPACE. THAT IS YOUR SPACE. OF COURSE THIS IS THE WAY WE SEE IT. EVEN WHEN WE SEE IT DIFFERENTLY. DUH.

Don't ask me to mask what I feel in diluted language and passionless drivel. If I think you're full of shit I'm not always going to say, "The way I see it, Bo's opinion about dogs being beaten as puppies to break their will is flawed." I'm going to say, "Bo is an asshole. He probably beats his wife too."

Okay? That's what I'm going to say.

Does that mean I'll always think Bo is a piece of shit? Well, if Bo also happens to write about how funding for AIDS research needs to be increased, I probably won't say, "Bo, who I said was an asshole for beating puppies and is wife is now an okay guy because he supports better funding for AIDS research." Instead, I might say "Isn't it a kick that Bo, of all people, wants more funding for AIDS research?" Or I might say to Bo, "Well look at this, Bo. We agree on something. Now let's talk about puppies..."

The thing I don't do is waste pixels on mamby-pamby qualifiers, or around-the-bush-beating lead-ins and conclusions.

That's for my real job, where the civil me spends her off-blog time.

So if you want politeness... well, sorry.

But not really.

So, help me some more oh smart readers...

See this post on this experimental blog--I'm starting with an mp3 I already have and trying to understand the backend of this process.

I'd appreciate any answers you could provide over there. Also, links to great shows and essential reading on podcasting are appreciated.

And yes, my mind is already on fast-forward, seeing how podcasting can blogging into a platform more than a medium, which needs to happen before we kill the momentum we've created. I see too the business implications of all of this, and the artistic "free agent" implications. It is, actually, quite exciting.

I thought Podcasting was just a bunch of geeks talking into microphones, like Larry King meets Home Alone. I see now that it is much, much more.

Weblogging needs this. There are so many people writing that perhaps some really should be talking instead. This will help sort and shape us by our talents, enable great writers to avoid slipping beneath the noise threshold of weblogging. In the mean time, podcasting gives great brains a way to share what's inside them without having to be confined to the constructs of the written word. This is huge.

And then there's podcasting's potential role in the whole music and creative works distribution/ownership revolution, which is mindblowing in its own right.

Okay, over to POD street now.

April 21, 2005

Podcasting Parade

The comments on my PODcasting questions are incredibly astute and useful. Well, it is a credible bunch after all. Shelley points to this link, which provides a great "how to" video for setting up a kit, as well as pricing and order information.

Ethan at The Vision Thing has been generous with his advice via email and has just about talked me into my first PODcast (at his end at least) interview. Great interviews on his site.

Lisa Williams simplified PODcasting over here. She also gives TV Guide a couple of hints.

Believe it or not, I now understand.

I really do.

I think I want to play with it. George says he has some of the pieces I need. He could do a full-blown deal, but I'm trying to get HIM to go that route too.

It's a more natural medium for him. For me, it's--what did they used to call it during review time at The Agency? A Development Opportunity (i.e. something you suck at and better improve at or no ladder climbing for you.)

God bless us bloggers, every one.

I'm practicing for this new technology even as we speak!

I practiced for four hours today. Shhh. Don't tell my business partner. In fact, at this rate, I'll be able to qualify easily for the human hibernation olympics before the next quarter.

"The cool thing about this gas we're using, hydrogen sulfide, is that it isn't something manufactured that we're taking down from a shelf -- it isn't 'better living through chemistry' -- it's simply an agent that all of us make in our bodies all the time to buffer our metabolic flexibility. It's what allows our core temperature to stay at 98.6 degrees, regardless of whether we're in Alaska or Tahiti," Roth said.

Holy Cow, Holy See.

I think Dave is right about Rogers Pope Domain Hoopla, which I just happened upon.

brrrrr it's cold.

Let's say I want to try this podcasting thing

I've been avoiding the whole-nine-yards around podcasting. I've never heard one. I don't know what it takes to do one. I think it's a weird name. I can't see how it's different from audioblogging.

But with all the buzz, I know it's different. I just don't know WTF.

All of this and more was what I was thinking last night -- night being the time I get most pissed off at weblogging, well, at just about everything, they call that hypervigilence in trauma psychology, but I digress -- as I decided that I need something new to recharge my juices around this space.

So, I have an Acer laptop. I don't have external speakers, just, you know, the built in speakers.

I have a power cord and a DSL cable.

That quite literally is all I have, not counting an ink-jet printer.

What else do I need to create my first podcast? And where can I listen to some good ones?

Thank you very much.

Missed it the first time around: Wikipedia and Credibility

From Phil, I found an interesting conversation among Danah , Clay and others regarding Wikipedia and its relative value as a source for research. The post is from a couple of months ago. I missed it the first time around, but began responding before I realized the posts were old. Ah, timeliness online is relative thanks to our archives, you know, since an archived entry is an archived entry only if you happen to look at the date....

I think the notion that Wikipedia is "authored by N unknown people," as danah says, is important when viewed in context with the idea that Wikipedia is also a self-correcting web-based tool (i.e., unlike its traditional counterparts, Wikipedia is continuously updated).

Compared to the genesis and updating of traditional encyclopedias, which are, in the end, a by-product of the publishing industry, Wikipedia comes out ahead in my book. Or at least as "credible enough" for danah's students to use--which was the point of discussion in the original post. Again, one source is created bottom up (Wikipedia), one source is birthed by publishing corporations, where employees feel a little guilty for sneaking pencils and note pads home to their kids, who they don't get to see until after they pick them up at daycare at 6:30.

I may be "buying into the open source religion" in a way that danah doesn't, or I may be valuing passion above business as the motivator for creating an excellent resource.

That said, danah has some good ideas for enhancements to Wikipedia that could satisfy the more discerning professors and make life a whole lot easier for students.

April 20, 2005

I used to bleed here

I used to bleed here. This is the place I used to bleed. I was not afraid to bleed here. We bled here. This is the place I used to tell you how my skin, scalded and peeling rage, my eyes shedding tears like puss, how all of that feels when molded into pixels, when splayed flat on a screen, how to make words into three dimensions: pain, loss and grief.

From that place I come again.

Secrets more secrets undone--kept so long, generations bear the heavy weight of tumors, origins unspoken. She could have told me. She could have held me. She could have stayed. Except that she was me once.

And either way, we bleed, if not here, then in white porcelain tubs under jets of warm water, your cheek against mine, you promising, me alone, fists against walls, my own tears washing away the blood.

April 19, 2005

As long as you have worked so hard to get your gender equality ducks in a row...

...then i guess, whine whine, that everything is just fine.

I'm not going to invite women to blogger dinners just to have gender equality there. Sorry. On the other hand, I am very sensitive to this issue. At the MSN Search Champs group this week there are several women attending and we went overboard to find women bloggers who are passionate about computers and technology. But, it was easier there because we are flying people in from all over the world and not just the San Francisco Bay Area.
What Next--BLACK PEOPLE?

Yah, you think that's funny? Go read the comments. "OH, well you didn't invite black people? aliens? HA HA" type of crap. Continued version of the conversation going on over at Shelley's.

FORGET Bush. The damn tech world needs a revolution to overthrow the current mantra of stupidity.

The inbreeding has reached critical mass.

April 18, 2005

Do Black Folks Search? I'm just asking...

Nice to see some women at this year's MSN Search Camp. I'm glad the folks involved took Liz Lawley's advice from last year and broadened their diversity portfolio.

One thing though. The pictures I've seen so far look pretty, um, melanin-challenged.

Maybe black Americans don't search much. I mean, those people still use pagers for their drug deals, right? So they wouldn't have anything to add to a conversation on the nuances of search. Just wait until Instant Messaging catches on though! Whoa!

Sorry. I'm probably just mistaken. Someone, call me to task. I'll wait.

And in the mean time, I'll tell you about a trend I've noticed on the part of some white Americans trying to diversify their blogs--and kudos to those who have acknowledged that they'd gotten stuck in their initial blog circles and might do well with pushing some walls out of the way... I count myself in that bunch. And that is, if you will, "all good."

However, it seems to me that a great number of white Americans have an easier time or are inclined to diversify by going OUTSIDE of America to cultures they perceive as more exotic for new voices. In other words, they leap at the chance to add a Japanese blogger, a Kenyan blogger, a Nigerian blogger. But what is NOT second nature is to add black Americans with that same vigor.

Especially, and I will say it, black American men.

You can tell me I'm wrong. You can tell me all day long. But my eyes and ears are tuned to this, from the inside of my own family outward. It's not something I consciously go looking for (as some bloggers I've called to task might think); no, it's something I notice as second nature. It's that typical kind of bullshit that strikes in a flash, raising my arm hairs.

And it isn't that those bloggers grasping outside their own borders to add diverse voices are wrong. ON THE CONTRARY! Pushing the conversation ever outward is a good thing--huge.

It's what keeps blogging from becoming inbred.

But you also might want to look down the street from where you live too, say around the block, down the road. Instead of tuning in culturally to what you see on CNN or FOX NEWS. Because it's really neat the way mainstream media tackles those intriguing stories overseas. And how COPS tackles those terrific drug-deals-gone-bad here at "home." And it's really neat the way darker-skinned people from overseas seem so very authentic, and how lots of them need America; yet darker skinned people in America -- they cause trouble.

And it's really fascinating how black men doing something technical, smart, savvy, geeky -- just like you even! -- just doesn't register.

While I'm at it...

While I'm giving away make believe grants, I wish wood s lot would get one too.

Man, You Can Wrap BPM Around Anything...

The New York State Civil Service Department has a Layoff Process Flowchart that somebody needs to spoof. I mean Come On. How many resources are allocated to the Layoff Process over there--and if they laid that bunch off, would they really need to lay anyone else off?

New York has its layoff processes together--and I mean t-i-g-h-t. Look what goes on before YOU ever hear "hey, layoffs are coming" through the grape vine:

AGENCY LAYOFF PLANNING
--management makes preliminary decisions on programs, titles and numbers of positions; analysis of impact on protected classes
--notify Civil Service, GOER and unions of the potential for layoffs
--receive seniority rosters; update personnel records
--begin "appropriate titles decision" process with Civil Service
--assign and train human resource and affirmative action staff for layoffs

All that happens for NY Civil Service layoffs before your mail man has any idea his ass is about to get kicked to the curb (without the truck).

You know what I say to the layoff department? Streamlining business processes starts at home.

Layoff Clickthrough

Oh, this is nice. Click your way through and relive the glory--I mean gory--days. Well done.

The Solution Is Parody

Steve and Robert are the latest to be roasted over at BBN. Hee heee! These folks at BBN should get a grant or something. I mean, how much do we need a Saturday Night Live for Bloggers Only. Like WAY!

Check out the women/men linking video a couple posts below "Fun with Self-Surveillance." We sure do need some comedy to remind us not to take blogging seriously.

When's Scoble gonna do a guest appearance? Like DeNiro on SNL.



BONUS PIC:

Left to Right: Rogers Cadenhead, Bobby DeNiro, Halley Suitt

Ramen Pride

The only meal you can buy for 25 cents that gives you an entire month's worth of sodium! An addict's delight. It should be illegal.



Chicken Flavor Noodle Soup
Chicken Flavor Noodle SoupNET WT.: 3 oz / FOR 1 SERVINGINGREDIETNS: * Noodle - Enriched wheat flour(wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, salt, salt, salt, salt, salt, and salt.

COOKING DIRECTIONS: 1) Boil some water in a sauce pan, add noodles and cook three minutes. 2) Turn off heat, add seasoning package. 3) Eat. 4) Take diuretic.

In keeping with my ongoing theme of optimism...

OR... A cell is just a cell?

Please don't miss C-Blo's Reservoir Unknown post today. It's serious business. Half conspiracy theory and half infectious disease / molecular biological theory -- all mixed together with a good dose of institutionalized racism, genocide, and witchcraft -- makes the research/story Chris has pulled together in this post REALLY REALLY compelling. As in, where will you buy your HazMat suit?


"THIS SHIT AIN'T FUNNY, COCO."

I didn't know Tom Snyder was blogging...

Or that he has leukemia. But listen, his post on discovering his diagnosis is terrific. I think I like him more as a writer than I did as a talk-show host (and I didn't like him as a talk show host).

Four years ago they stuck a defibrillator/pacemaker in my chest because my heart disease was treatable! A year and a half ago a nearly torn tendon in my left leg was diagnosed as treatable. Then I came down with atrial fibrillation, but was told not to worry about that because it is treatable! I don't know how much more room I have in my aging carcass for this treatable shit! Anyway, my doctors assure me this is nothing to worry about, and I have to accept that, I guess. They say this kind of leukemia is not fatal, that people can live with it for thirty years. Notice, they don't say people will live thirty years. But they "can" live up to thirty years. Considering I will be sixty nine years old next month I ain't looking for thirty years, but fifteen more would be nice! I looked up chronic lymphocytic leukemia on the Internet and found a source that predicted people who are diagnosed early can live up to twelve years. Those who are not diagnosed early--and the website does not define "early"-- have a survival rate of about two years. I don't know if my diagnosis was early or late.

My doctors say this disease (which I'll refer to as CLL from now on) has a very slow rate of progression. I had more blood work done today to make certain this diagnosis is correct. The doctors will have the results of this in a week or so and then we will see what treatment they recommend. I am going to Northern California for about two weeks and I am not taking my leukemia with me. The doctors say that's okay with them.


What I'd like is Tom's doctors.

His words about the Pope aren't bad either:
Am I the only one who noticed the opulence and wealth on display at the Pope's funeral? Am I the only one who was bothered by the Pope's body being hauled around the Vatican (I think displaying the body after death is barbaric)? As I watched the Cardinals in their red robes and sashes and the pomp and majesty of the ceremonies I kept thinking: we certainly have come a long way from the stable where Christ was born!

April 17, 2005

Brian Buck, Peace.

Rogers and Dave report that Brian Buck has lost his battle with bone cancer. I checked in on Brian's blog every so often after I first saw Dave mention Brian and his writings about coping with cancer. I am so sorry to hear that his words have stopped, his breath, his voice.

In his weblog, Brian puts words around grieving better than anyone I've read in a very, very long time...

Mourning

I don't know how other people deal with it, but when I am under duress I tend to repress a lot of my emotions. One of the sad realities of battling cancer is you meet a lot of people who have a high likelihood of dying. Over the last year, I have had a half-dozen people I care about pass on. There is never a good time to die, but when you are battling the same disease that others around you are dying from, it can be tough to keep your head up. I imagine it is like true combat. You would like to stop and mourn the loss of your brothers, but there is no time to waste, you must kill the enemy or end up dead yourself.

It is days like today that the memories of my fallen brothers and sisters haunt me. Now that I am no longer under fire, it is time for me to go back and mourn them properly. It can be a dark hallway to look into, but I try to make it bright. I listen to music and celebrate life. I remember past conversations, words they have written, and thoughts they have passed on to me. And I cry. I used to avoid crying, it made me feel weak, or so I thought. But now I can cry and it makes me feel better. Sometimes I feel like I am up against an insurmountable wall, but when I cry, my tears are proof that the feelings inside me are real, and that my emotions can be moved forth into the here and now.

At times, life can seem like it will be this way forever. You take for granted a kiss, a phone call from somebody you love. As I mourn the lives of my friends who have passed on, it is these lonely times I find so dark. It is hard to find brightness when you are alone in an empty room. But I think of the spirit, the strengths that these friends had. I fill my mind with their voices, the life and love of another person can be much greater than yourself, and it can be a beautiful feeling when you find it. I am still learning the language of mourning, and it is spoken with voices in the past. I still hear you, friend.


I hope that Brian's blog will remain accessible for years to come. That is obviously the decision of his family. But if I discover one day I have cancer, Brian's is a weblog I would spend a lot of time on. For information, and for inspiration. And I would bet I'm not the only one.

Peace.