Were I to commandeer the use of a water-craft

Confession: one of my great pleasures/sicknesses when distracted is playing the game of reframing or rewording song lyrics and titles to be more thematically accurate, pseudo-politically correct, and/or appropriate for use in a scientific research paper.

For example:

  • My Girl by The Temptations becomes: The One Who is My Significant Other, and Also Female
  • I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly becomes: I Have a Sense That I Am Capable of Sub-Orbital Flight Without the Use of an Aircraft
  • Oops, I Did It Again by Britney Spears becomes: I Am Struck That I Appear to Have Made the Same Error I Previously Made
  • I Wish It Would Rain Down by Phil Collins becomes: It is My Earnest Hope That We Will Experience Significant Precipitation in the Near Future
  • In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel becomes: I Perceive Something Noteworthy About Your Corneas

And so on. It's especially fun if you sing them to the original tune.

Does anyone else play this game? Or am I, as Gnarls Barkley should have called it in his hit song, Perpetually Experiencing Difficulty With My Understanding of Reality?

Writer's block

One of my favorite magazines, and one of the only ones I subscribe to, is The Sun. It's an ad-free publication of interviews, short stories, poems, and reader-submitted material that tends to engage the human experience in really amazing ways. It's sort of a hidden treasure in the world of magazines - either people tend to love it, or have never heard of it. They have a section every month called "Readers Write," where they pick a theme and ask readers to submit personal stories and experiences that relate to that theme.

Almost every month, I see the list of themes and think about what I would write about. I start to compose the words in my head. And then I look at the submission deadline for that topic (usually just weeks away) and then at the publication target for accepted pieces (usually many months away), and I tell myself that I'll come back to it later to actually send something in.

I've been a subscriber of the Sun since 1999, and I have not yet gotten around to submitting anything to them. I'm not sure if it's because I can't experience the instant gratification of having my writing accepted (or rejected) like I can with a weblog. Or maybe it's because I still have such a hard time letting myself write about things that other people are writing about. Or maybe it's because I know I would be submitting something for someone else to judge or value, and I'm not confident or vulnerable enough. Or maybe it's pure laziness, apathy.

Whatever it is, it's a form of writer's block that seems ridiculous and intimidating to me, yet very important to overcome.

Live Chat Room for Richmond, Again

IMG_2256.JPGI'm trying out a concept for a new local website, live-richmond.com, and I want to get your feedback.

The main point is pretty simple: provide a real-time discussion room for Richmond/Wayne County citizens to talk about the issues of the day, chit-chat, and whatever else seems useful, any time, day or night. The way it's set up now, a "robot" will periodically insert a headline, weather report, event, etc. from local sources into the room for those joined in to talk about. Users can carry on private chats with each other if they choose. Real names are encouraged, relative anonymity is certainly possible.
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August Milestones

It was 10 years ago this month that I co-founded Summersault website development with Mark. We're celebrating with some donations to help improve the community, and a look back at our milestones over the years.

It was 20 years ago this month that my father passed away from cancer. I celebrate his life, the family he left behind, the impact he had on me, and the cycles of life that give the world meaning and possibility.

It was 30 years ago this month that I was born into the world. I celebrate the landbase that sustains me, my health, my successes and failures, my friends and loved ones, my past and future, the hope that drives me, and so much more.

And so here I am, in August of 2007. As E.B. White said, "I get up every morning determined both to change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day difficult."

185 Fort Wayne Avenue in Richmond Indiana

185 Ft Wayne Ave.Last fall I took possession of the building at 185 Fort Wayne Avenue here in Richmond. It's a cool old space with a lot of history behind it - folks named Nye, Ezra and Starr had a place that made stoves and tinware there in the 1860s, and since then it's been used for tin/iron/slate production, residence for the Chief Engineer of the Fire Department, a warehouse, shoe repair, furniture retail, and more. There's a great apartment upstairs there now, which I've mentioned before, but the real fun is thinking about what's going to happen in the space downstairs.

It's been a bit of an adventure navigating the process of release forms, permits and construction planning (not to mention the fact that apparently all of this costs money - who knew?!), and that continues for a bit longer. But today it was great fun to see some outward signs of progress, as the storefront got a bright new coat of paint - thanks to the Richmond Urban Enterprise Association for helping make that possible. Apparently as Rick from Prosource Construction and his crew worked away on it this weekend, the transition from a dull and chipping old blue to a bright and energetic new blue brought lots of comments; I had fun this morning watching people drive slowly past, pointing and the work-in-progress, craning their necks, wondering what will be going in there. Yes, we're a town that likes the possibilities that come with our building facades.

We've got lots of dreams for "the building." If you'd like to be a part of the conversation about what use of the space would best serve the community, I hope you'll get in touch.

Watching the watchers

IMG_2396.JPGSometimes people forget how much information is being collected about them when they visit a website. It's actually not all that much - what IP address you're visiting from, what kind of operating system and web browser you're running, and perhaps what other website you came from in your visit. The real fun starts when you learn how to interpret the trends in that information, and start to drill down to what it might mean about a visitor.

For example, earlier this week, a user visited my website without any referring URL information. This means they probably entered the address directly in their browser's location bar, but it could also mean they followed a bookmark, or are actively trying to hide where they came from. As soon as they got to my site, they started searching for the word "congress" in my content. When I traced the IP address, it went back to a location in McLean, Virginia, which is the home of the Central Intelligence Agency.

So what can we conclude from this? Obviously, a CIA operative was investigating my website because in my ramblings about politics and the government, I've clearly come too close to the truth about a cover-up related to U.S. energy policy and the War on Terra, and now they're coming to take me away, ha-ha.

Continue reading Watching the watchers