Wednesday, 31 July -<link>Last month, Joi Ito asked for help with his web page. I set up a weblog for him. He's really taken to the form.
Joi is a fascinating guy. With a young spirit he's invited to high level conferences where business and political leaders from around the globe talk about newsworthy issues. Now he's "live-blogging," reporting from the site of the "Fortune Brainstorm 2002," starring Shimon Peres and the King of Jordan, and focusing frequently on Japan's economic and political future. Joi tends to write with a nice honest voice, personal in the midst of what is usually only reported at a distance - good reading at joi.ito.com.
Monday, 29 July -<link>
Crystal makes and sells the legendary cinnamon buns at Stewart's, a diner in Osage Beach near the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. A young woman in jean shorts and a faded Stewart's t-shirt, she cheerfully sets about to fixing up all the buns they have for Justin and his uncle Jim, out of towners vacationing nearby. These cinnamon buns are about as big as Justin's face and thicker than his wrist; Justin and his uncle will be buying all the buns they have left that day.
Justin leans towards her, towards these giant baked treats to ask, "Those buns have sugar in them?"
Crystal continues pouring thick sugar frosting out of a pitcher labelled "tomatoe juice" to cover the buns until they sit in plastic containers one inch-deep in pure thick liquid sugar. She answers, "They've got brown sugar, white sugar, powdered sugar - every kind of sugar we can think of. I just made these this morning," she puts the pitcher down to grab a spatula. Pausing to point at a half eaten bun nearby, she continues, "and I'm eating that one over there. My boyfriend says, you oughtta get on a treadmill and run some of that off." Her face and posture shift, she wrinkles her brow - "I say, I've had three kids, I'm doing pretty good." She looks to Justin to punctuate her point as she carries a pile of sugar covered, plastic sealed buns to the register.
Justin nods and asks, "Do you bring any of these home to your boyfriend?" Implicit in the question, he hoped, was his thinking maybe Crystal's boyfriend would appreciate the fresh buns and leave her alone about her weight.
Crystal makes a face. She shakes her head, "he doesn't get any."
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 13:09:09 -0500
From: gk darby
Subject: travel books, get lost
Could you say somewhere on your website that your guide is available at Get Lost Travel Books at 1825 Market St., San Francisco (415)437-0529
Sunday, 28 July -<link>
Primary report from the human recreation colony: "Lake of the Ozarks" Missouri.
A large concrete dam at the end of a river has made a lake. The twisted riverbed now hundreds of meters wide and not moving is a locus for water-based personal entertainment. Most of the participants in these recreations seem to be transient; people and culture imported to this region for the purposes of secondary activity - non-work, distraction, "vacation."
While human beings might share the desire to pursue happiness, here the rituals and implements of pleasure have mutated into a specific form - the result of a combination of factors: geographical, historical and social. In conjunction with my team of 19 other researchers (heretofor referred to as "family") I will undertake a week long participating study, exploring the nature of a "vacation" in this particular man-made recreation colony.
Research team leader Jim fingers a canister loaded with snaking strands of four foot long beef jerky.
Team leader Jim and co-coordinator Linda admire our collection of recreational foods - native supplies for this vacationland. While appearing to be massive, the supplies did not cost as this researcher expected. Team leader Jim remarked, "filling up carts with sugar and salt is cheap."
Saturday, 27 July -<link>Tomorrow I leave for a family reunion of-sorts in the Lake of the Ozarks, in Missouri. One of the world's largest man-made lakes serves the middle-western United States as a place of recreation. My cousin is bringing his powerboat from Colorado, my uncle is bringing his jetski from Nebraska - a week of gasoline powered entertainment! And card-playing and books to read. And talking to family. And writing as one might write away from fast internet and wise lovers.
- In the Realm of a Dying Emperor, by Norma Field (amazon)
- Countering the notion that all Japanese folks are a part of some mass-cult hive-brain by examining some individual protests against the Imperial system and Japanese social-political control. Recommended by Jane.
- A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
- Highly touted, best-selling fantasy, recommended to me first by Derek at Gamers.com and recently Jane.
- Linked, by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
- Looks to be some approachable science - link patterns that emerge across different disciplines. Howard recommended this, highly and repeatedly.
- Seven Japanese Tales, by Junichiro Tanizaki
- Collection of short stories by a Japanese author recommended by Jane.
- Fallout, by Interplay
- A computer game set in a post-apocalyptic America, Fallout serves up plenty of commentary both on modern living and the human condition. "Our boys keep the peace in newly-annexed Canada" - the intro video sequence alone tells you this is provocative playing. PC RPG from 1997 I still haven't finished.
Monday, 22 July -<link>When I was in college, in part spurred by pain in my wrists, and in part from curiousity about spiritual traditions, I studied a broad range of means for meditation and controlling the mind. Some zen meditation, some LSD, some sufi mystic (Bawa Muhaiyaddeen), some yoga, some tai chi. Of all the things I studied, I enjoyed Qi Qong the most (chi gung, qi quong, chi kung) - a series of non-martial movements. It's a personal exercise that urged me to slow down and use more of my body. I liked the fact that the only purpose for the exercise was to use the body, not as though I was practicing to block incoming agression. It calmed me.
In 1995 I learned Qi Quong at a strip mall in Chadd's Ford PA, in the company of my Jazz History teacher at Swarthmore, John Alston. I wrote a bit on my web site about it back then, being slightly dismissive of the context (my teacher later said that someone at the dojo had searched for the dojo online, printed out my writeup and shared it with the sensei, who was a bit incensed by my tone). I didn't write down the sequence, a series of animal gestures tied together. I remember thinking, I should write these down (was it monkey-holding-jar into tiger pose?).
Years later, grown phyiscally idle, I'm online, hoping that I can find some Qi Quong forms to practice, based on what my body remembers, and what pictures or drawings might instruct someone on the form. Online (free) instruction is tough to find, since it's something that most places hope to sell. And it's difficult to demonstrate subtle body inflections. Still I hold out hope that some people feel that beautiful truth should be taught without regard to expense. And then if I can't find what I'm looking for, I can always buy a $50 VHS tape from the dojo I may have slighted.
I either need a printer, or more patience to read online: An exchange with Kevin Phillips, the author of Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich:
Now corporate failure is not San Francisco's problem. It's the country's. The alarming aspect of the recent bankruptcies is not simply that they have driven down stock values and therefore drained collective wealth. The real damage comes from the nature of the companies involved and the reason for their collapse.
Sunday, 21 July -<link>Feeling the juices flowing on fiction again; working on a short novel.
Three Million Korean People Can't Be Wrong
Now that Jane has a laptop, we have been sitting side by side on a wicker couch playing the first-month-free of Lineage. Lineage is the world's most popular multiplayer online game - played by over 3 million people in Korea. Now it's been exported to the United States.
Jane gives a finger to the Orc Fighter who beat her down and sent her back to town.
Millions of people must have tried Lineage because it's easy, and easy online toys give people the chance to play. Play, as in, make-up your own activities to entertain yourself. You pick which kind of dress up you want (including the chance to play royalty - prince and princesses). You can chat with people while you walk around clicking on monsters to kill them. Monsters, at least when you're starting off, are things like rabbits and frogs. Why bother? Because some slight figure in bright pink with big hair just dashed by with her three dobermans, pausing only to launch some fireworks. And wouldn't it be nice to someday be able to do that yourself?
The male elf - soft and fop stylish. Much like the knight, the wizard, and the prince characters.
Thousands of people chat here, dressed up as Anime - Japanese/Korean visions of fantasy characters. As WJ Au pointed out in his piece The Return of Lord British (an article Jane sends along; Salon.com server problems might require you to reload to read it), Lineage is fourth or fifth generation escapist visionry. So I wonder, why has my sunny Sunday afternoon been spent working to level up my Elf? I think it's because I just met a young prince who started an in-game blood pledge called "Wu-Tang Clan" and since I joined (the first member!) I have some killer bees that float around next to my name. Now I look like someone who might know what he is doing - a gratifying feeling in a confusing world.
The female elf - wrists and calves akimbo.
In about three weeks our free time will be up and we will have to decide - have we invested enough in these online identities to pay $15 a month to keep them? Will we miss the chance to flirt together in text while adventuring with strangers dressed in slender effeminate pixels?
You can try lineage with either a Macintosh (OS X) or a PC; it's a free download, and you can try it for a month if you give them a credit card number. They won't bill you unless you forget to cancel after 30 days. Look for me on the Depardieu PvP server - HyTree.
life on the river
About an hour north of Oakland, past Sebastepol into Forestville, there's an outfit called Burke's on the Russian River. For $42 they'll rent you a lifejacket, a canoe, two paddles. You guide yourself down 10 miles of river (three to five hours, depending) and then they pick you up and drive you back to where you left your car. Along the way, little kids already wet with nothing to lose might try to tip your canoe, bald and big bellied fellow americans enjoy beer like you do; people swimming, picnicing, piloting their way down a lazy sun-blasted day on the river.
Jane and I went in the company of nearly a dozen of her friends, nice folks that we didn't see too much of as we paddled more lazy, drank more tiny cans of beer, and exchanged squirt gun fire with people on the riverbanks. That and working, over time, to figure out how best to share the duties of paddling the craft forward and steering. Two people for four hours in an aluminum canoe under a searing fireball was good recreating.
Friday, 19 July -<link>"We now have cultural machines so powerful that one singer can reach everybody in the world, and make all the other singers feel inferior because they're not like him," Mr. Lomax once reflected. "Once that gets started, he gets backed by so much cash and so much power that he becomes a monstrous invader from outer space, crushing the life out of all the other human possibilities. My life has been devoted to opposing that tendency."Alan Lomax is dead. As a DJ and as a human being, I've often responded best to songs sung by lone strained voices pained or proud yelling it sounds like sometimes or a pinched whine others - people who don't necessarily have polite polish but sound like they're singing things I've been feeling or wish I felt or maybe what people seem to be feeling when I've ridden through different parts of town. Alan Lomax and his dad John made many of those folks singing accessible to me. Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, other bluesmen. "Folk." Thanks for sharing, Alan Lomax.
Thursday, 18 July -<link>All we have swirls around us mesmeretical at times we are captivated by our lives strong and bright and pitiable they seem, flimsy and falling down. Beneath this skin we are all skeletons.
Today, she said, perhaps she needs time individuated, apart. And I am paralyzed, silent in doubt. Doubt I don't publish, I already wrote that. But she wanted to hear it. She wanted to talk. And so we did. Maybe we are young, still. Rather, I think she's smart. Our hunger feeds our minds.
Thursday, 11 July -<link>In this Links.net entry:
Reading over PeterMe's web log, he notes the decomposition of the web; sites broken, trails leading only to placeholder pages, dead-ends or unrelated businesses camping old domains. Bless Peter for grinning at that.
- The web ages, retains rebellious vitality
- Selfishness reflected by Japanese Immigration
- Meeting Moveable Type
- Howard's condensing thought
- My lover and my doubts
Today I followed a link from Slashdot to an article on the Chicago Tribune web site about Junk Fax payments (legislating spam I've been curious about since I researched it for an article about mobile phone spam). The Tribune site required some free registration before I could read. Briefly frustrated, I remembered an Internet custom from the era when many broken links were still fresh; curious I filled in the username and password with the same phrase - "cypherpunk." Cypherpunk - a handle/password combo that was used across sites when sites first started requiring registration and privacy conscious people didn't want to submit personal information or deal with the hassle of registering. Today, cypherpunk/cypherpunk still worked.
using Archive.org I found a copy of a school paper about the comic graphic novel The Watchmen I wrote in 1992 that disappeared my web site after 1996. Thanks, WayBack Machine!
In June, eager to leave Japan, hurrying to be in love no longer long distance, they cancelled my Journalist's Visa and Alien Registration card at the airport in Tokyo. "You travel too much and you don't have the right paperwork - you should get a different visa," the man sternly stated. It had been an enormous amount of work to get these official credentials. I tried arguing for understanding, exception, compassion, logic. The immigration man looked hard at me speaking in rapid terse angry Japanese. I don't understand you! I said, please slow down. He stopped and looked at me, "Wagamama. You are wagamama."
Yesterday I went to the Consulate General of Japan office in San Francisco, to ask after a new sort of visa. I have to restart the application process, producing original copies of the same mountains of paperwork now on file at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Office.
I had lunch with Ben and Mena - the Trotts, a 24 year old husband and wife team born 6 days apart, responsible for making Moveable Type. Moveable Type is one of the leading softwares that automates web publishing. They hail from Northern California; nice folks, but they live far out in the sunset of San Francisco. In Berkeley or Oakland I'm closer to central San Francisco than they are. Still it seems to suit them, they've been mostly cooped up together programming for nine months at least, occasionally fighting to be sure, but also making software I've enjoyed using on bud.com and joi.ito.com.
The first time I got to know weblog software makers Dave got naked and Evan didn't. At least not just then.
I like the software, and I like to see creative teams succeed. I suggested that they find twenty of their favourite authors and set up free Moveable Type blogs for them. Um, Mena smiled ruefully for a moment. Too busy or distracted to read these two. What's your hobby Ben? I used to program Moveable Type as a hobby.
unemployedindependent since September 2001, they are subsisting on savings and donations from happy users of Moveable Type that actually pay the rent. They cooperated on the menu seamlessly; each ordered vegetarian tofu over rice at Mai's Vietnamese on Clemente, splitting a bowl of throat-pinching hot and sour soup. Mena did most of the talking. Later in the meal when I began talking to them the way I'd learned in marketing meetings, Ben looked at his watch and Mena looked out the window.
Running late to visit Howard, I find him sitting in a sarong, bare-footed typing, wirelessly connected in his yard. Together we began painting my shoes - he figures I will be a natural evangelist since I talk to friends-I-don't-yet-know more often than he does. We went walking up on the mountain. As I drove him back in my little car, he expressed some great pleasure to have a new project in mind. His friend recently called him asking, Howard what are you interested in? And Howard boiled it all down into one word that drives his new project forward.
Returned home after our hike, he took off his painted shoes and colorful socks and I sat musing. What single word or concept am I studying today? I felt some concern; perhaps I'm too widespread, straddling; studying three different areas of electronic stimulation (games, mobile phones, web culture), a tiny bit of language and culture learned from a rich country with longings for fiction writing to boot.
Staying Late at School
Later that night I reunited with my primary conversation. We decide ardently to spend an evening or two apart, to develop our other relationships and balance out our lives. Then afterwards we spend three or four hours catching up; tonight we started late on a school night.
She loaned me In the Realm of a Dying Emperor about outsider Japanese who stand against the monolithic state and social control. Often foreign writing about Japan lauds or lambastes the Japanese as some kind of hive-mind herd. Jane actively works to dig up and promote evidence to the contrary. I showed her a draft of my tour guide to Tokyo where I had written "The Japanese are a playful and industrious people." She has since been working on me to nuance my thought and writings.
We got to talking over my time living in Japan and some of what she'd read on my web site then, how that reflected on me before she knew me better. Since I left I hadn't reflected much on my time with Ayako, a young woman I met in Japan. Sure we talked about her sexual harassment and took some trips. But I didn't open up so much of myself to her and finally I withdrew for that reason. Our discussion took on more contours that my words have here. Perhaps in my writing and my living I express some kind of confidence, repressing doubt that humanizes or nuances me and these "adventures."
Sure I repress doubt. People look at a Tokyo sex party, or a penis injury page, and say, "Wow, dude, that's wild! Is there anything you won't put on your web page?" I haven't written that I sometimes fear I'm a dilettante and I won't amount to anything, in part because I don't want to have it reflected back at me by a stranger.
Dilettante, as it has been weighed against me by Howard on occasion and other folks, means someone insincere about their studies, or someone who only studies shallowly. Dilettante literally comes from the Latin to delight. To take pleasure in arts and knowledge - producing unfocused work of an amateur. Buckminster Fuller called himself "a generalist." Ikkyu called himself "crazy cloud."
I have a fairly irrepressible urge to see another side to an issue, often a positive. Especially when the problem relates to me; I guess it's optimism as a survival mechanism. The furthest resignation from any problem is suicide. I like solutions so when I get deeply depressed I think about suicide as a solution to my problems. But my Dad tried that and I don't think it turned out to be the best method. But maybe I have to figure that out for myself, when I'm done being delighted.
Wednesday, 10 July - 16:51 -<link>My BoingBoing post resulted in some discussion with Cory Doctorow about the nature of linking, reverse chronology and weblogs.
Tuesday, 9 July - 11:34 -<link>BoingBoing: Single Link Straightjacket?
I read BoingBoing online often. It's a lively locus of geekery, pop culture and technology activism. Still on each post they don't inline their links, they restrain them until the end. That's passing up on the fun fluency of the web, when links are sprinkled in, references resting behind words. Often their stories have multiple points of reference; often their stories could use more explanation. Their single-linking seems like a bit of a straightjacket.
"BoingBoing" began a print publication cataloging fun/weird culture published on the side by a co-worker at Wired, Mark Frauenfelder. So BoingBoing.net is an evolution from a funky old print 'zine into perhaps its more perfect incarnation as a leading culture weblog. Perhaps that explains the single-linking? It reeks of clarity, an attention span dating back to print publishing! BoingBoing.net is today maintained by active professional writers who cut their teeth making words before the web; this might explain the site's wide appeal, a weblog that's not too far floating in the hyperlinked ethersphere.
[this BoingBoing post resulted in some discussion with Cory Doctorow about the nature of linking, reverse weblogs.]
Tuesday, 9 July - 9:48 -<link>my love
yesterday I picked Jane up from work. She sat down in the car, marvelling as she exclaimed,
"Damn! I have the attention span of a gnat!"
Monday, 8 July - 14:22 -<link>si, pantalones
In 1997, when I was packing for ten weeks in Honduras, a tropical country in Central America, I expected to bring and wear mostly shorts, and short sleeves. But once I got there I saw few Hondurans wore shorts. They wore long pants, even in sweltering hot weather. Little kids sometimes wore shorts, and tourists. But anyone who worked wore pants. And most everyone else. I wore pants too. It was useful hiking through the jungle when dangerous plants and bugs might want to eat at your leg. But more than that, showing off your legs began to seem to me like oversharing - a type of impropriety or indulgence, not necessarily respectful of this culture I was visiting. I wanted to dress respectful by default.
In La Mosquitia, we all wore pants.
I haven't been able to wear shorts much since then, unless they pass below my knees or unless I have some sort of special shorts-warranting task at hand, like swimming or disco dancing. This has even extended to short sleeves - when I'm working I like to keep my limbs covered. Considering that I'm not too often sure what my job is or when I can consider myself done working, I end up dressing that way most of the time.
But now I sit in this Oakland office, alone in July and it's like some sort of experiment in human heat exposure. The air don't move much, and it's just drowning hot. I'm wearing long thick pants and a long sleeve shirt. And I'm sweating. I'm going to wear shorts, a t-shirt and sandals tomorrow. And so I will look like Chris Hecker, the man whose office I am sharing; he has dressed that way on every day and in every continent I have ever shared with him. Except Saturday, when he got married, in a suit. and shoes!
Monday, 8 July -<link>Driving through hot Northern California Jane and I discovered a delicious combination - a chocolate/vanilla ice cream sandwich and a strawberry frozen fruit and juice bar, eaten together in small bites.
My old creekside Oakland neighbor Oliver celebrates his American Independence each and every day with a bumper sticker that sits where his license plate should be - "Bush: The Only Dope Worth Shooting."
Thursday, 4 July -<link>Happy America Day maybe, do you feel Under God?
Howard sent a fantastic article that strongly reinforces the growing attraction Japan has had for me. After years of modern Japanese culture consumption I visited the country and found it a fascinating site of global cultural recontextualization.
Japan's Gross National Cool, by Douglas McGray
There's a bit of oversell here - "Today, teenagers and 20-somethings in the United States and elsewhere buy Hello Kitty purses and cell phone cases as icons of Tokyo pop chic." - is that really true? Regardless, I like his angle on Japan (really he's only talking about Tokyo, as Tokyo is the five senses for the whole Japanese spine) - that Japan has evolved into a 21st century media orgy most of the rest of the world wants to join.
McGray seems to want Japan to take on some kind of evangelical tone with their media? I think there might be some sort of deeper message, if you must have one Westerner, encoded within their manufactured media and the means of distribution. If they have a chance to influence so many minds, what are they saying? This writer spent a few months there and he wants the culture to come forward with some grand purpose. Certainly there are some values quietly encoded in Pokemon and Final Fantasy. Hands-on study of Japanese video games and cartoons is critical. I'm eager to return to Japan between September and January with a good study partner and playmate.
Monday, 1 July -<link>Last night, Jane and I broke two eggs, took the yolks, both twins. In a weighty metal bowl with a giant wisk, I beat them until my arms burned while Jane poured in a thin stream of olive oil. Add champagne vinegar cuz we didn't have lemons, salt and pepper, some two teaspoons of mustard, and we had mayonaisse.
To this she added canned tuna fish, celery and her seasonin's. She packed that up with designer lettuce, carrots I shredded, sliced tomatoes, avocado. I added some Saint Andre cheese. On Acme olive bread. So now at my own 11am early lunch time I am happy eaten a delictable tuna fish sandwich. "Scrum-delicious" as Grampa would say. She done nourished me.
I'm eating early because we wake up at 6.40 most mornings. Shower, drive her to work around 7.30, I'm at my office by 7.50. It's quiet, cool, and empty. These men I work with, most of them seem to be running time experiments - 26 hour days perhaps - sometimes they show up at eleven am, but most of the time their clocks seem to be wound up different - arriving in the afternoon two hours later each day and when i return the next morning I see signs that they have stayed late into the night. Is the night time better suited for programming? The morning is well suited to writing, except when people call here asking for "the person in charge of your IT purchases." I ask these phone salesmen and women to explain what "ai-tee" is to me, what a DVD writer might be used for, why I would want faster access to the intree-net.
Somehow Chris and Jon time their arrivals to just after the bulk of these daily calls. So when it comes time to conclude the phone play and give the salespeople something for amusing me, I tell them a person who can make decisions is about as likely to be here at 11pm as he is likely to be here at any time at all.
Maybe I should get a telemarketing job.
before -<link>From: ultramonotone
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2002 22:55
imagine my horror on coming to links.net, a site that i fully appreciate not only for its author's honesty, ability to surprise, amaze and even sometimes disgust - but also for it's cave-like depth, and finding that my happy groping in the darkness has been replaced by a thousand giant fluroescent lamps detailing every nook and cranny that i should ever wish to probe!
oh justin, i implore you: hide once again your dark crevices and let the persistent traveller find them as their reward for tunnelling deep into the underground maze that is links.net.
olivia and steve
June - QoL!