high weir

MySpace Posts

This page contains several posts originally published on MySpace. I don’t anticipate further posting there.

Laughable (June 21, 2006)

I noticed MySpace has a new alert item right above the login:

Keep your account secure! Look for login.myspace.com in the Address.

Now what the fricky-frack is that about? Must be some kind of hijack threat–a fake login that captures your info, etc.

For this and other reasons, I’m seriously considering starting fresh on Blogger. Again. Absurd, no?

Some of the other reasons:
+ I don’t think the guys minding the store here have the slightest idea what they’re doing, even if they do have 147,328,049,463 visitors every day. Example: when you click on “sign in,” the login page greets you with “YOU MUST BE SIGNED IN TO DO THAT!” in big bold letters. You have to be signed in to sign in. That’s both not true and real dumb.
+ One of the options under My Controls is “Post New Blog.” They can’t even get the jargon right. A blog is made up of posts, you goobers.
+ Formatting stuff in the composing window is a guessing game sometimes. Example: When I cut and paste text I’ve written in Word, the apostrophes like to disappear.
+ I haven’t found much good blogging in the old-school sense of linking-and-thinking. I’m not the best at that by any stretch, but I like to hang out with quality-control people, anyhow.
+ I hate reading about MySpace scandals in the paper every other day.

The upside, I guess, is the MySpace community (such as it is) isn’t terribly pretentious. People seem happy to have their scrapbook, and they’re fine with yours, too. I don’t know if that makes up for the lack of ambition, though.

I’m going to think about this some more and make a decision over the weekend.

GTD Update: Resisting Gear Fetishism (June 20, 2006)

I’m willing to bet a neglected Moleskine that a lot of people dabbling in things like GTD get hung up on the tools they think they need. The distraction of evaluating and optimizing gear is a fine way to keep the next action at bay.

In fact, one of my initial hopes in reading GTD was for a checklist of neat-o things to buy and use, and I was disappointed at first when he declined to offer one. Yes, label makers and file folders and MS Outlook and suchlike figure prominently in Allen’s advice, but his point is simply that those things come in handy. He never really goes out of his way to recommend a specific product–certainly nothing trendy or hard-to-find. (No talk of “those large notebooks from the Papeterie Joseph Gibert in which it is so pleasant to write if you use a felt-tip pen.”*) Like Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential, who says home cooks should lay off the copper saucepans,** Allen basically says, “1) Find something simple that works well. 2) Work it.”***

My own bad habit in this regard were awakened the other day when I read about Bill Westerman’s so-called “Getting Sh-t Done” program. I found myself captivated by his discovery and use of Miquelrius notebooks. The GSD tips themselves were pretty good–more on that in a later post–but the notebooks sounded like something I would really like to use. Before I knew it, I was plotting ways of getting one of them, or at least something a lot like them. I actually made a special trip to both Staples and Barnes & Noble to see what was out there.

Happily, Waterloo is just enough of a backwater that a Moleskine is an exotic artifact; quad-ruled products of Catalonia are totally unheard of. I ran into a dead-end right away. Having a 6-yo boy along helped streamline my decision-making, believe it or not, as did the fact that I’m a cheapskate. Clay had no patience for my fussiness–he wanted to go home and play badminton–and the notebooks that came close to the Miquelrius cost a bit more than I felt like paying. I wound up just grabbing a cheap 6×9 ringbound notebook marketed as Staples’s house brand.

It works fine. I’m a couple of days into an experiment in moving my next action lists away from Outlook’s Tasks manager and onto paper, so the cheap-and-easy route is definitely best. What’s the worst that could happen? I stop using it. If it comes to that, at least I won’t have a precious little handsewn thing lurking around to remind me of a costly error in judgment. And who knows? Maybe if I stick with paper, I’ll decide to upgrade–one of life’s real pleasures, when it’s earned–and invest in something designed for permanence. Like a quad-ruled product of Catalonia ;-)

* see Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.
** Bourdain reserves special scorn for what he calls the “hand-rubbed by virgins” brands.
*** I am reminded of Sam, DeNiro’s character in Ronin. When asked by Sean Bean’s “weapons man” blowhard what kind of sidearm he favors, Sam shrugs and answers that it’s just a tool. You choose your tool to fit the job. When pressed, Sam confesses that he likes a good ol’ 1911, meaning a .45. (Off-topic: Later, in one of cinema’s great dressings-down, Sam ambushes the poor fellow–so out of his depth it’s almost sad–with a cup of coffee.)

Magical (June 8, 2006)

I’ve never had much use for magic of the rhinestone-and-tiger variety–too much spectacle for too little payoff. The best magic, the kind I’m always thrilled to watch, is the kind that can take place in my living room. No fog, no fancy boxes, no swords. No assistants! The common term for what I like is sleight of hand, but the best is closeup magic.

If you’ve ever caught even one Ricky Jay trick, then you’ll want to read “Secrets of the Magus.” If you’ve never caught even one Ricky Jay trick, then you’ll want to read it, too. (Scroll down a bit and click on the format you like best.)

Here’s a bit from the introduction:

Deborah Baron, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, where Jay lives, once invited him to a New Year’s Eve dinner party at her home. About a dozen other people attended. Well past midnight, everyone gathered around a coffee table as Jay, at Baron’s request, did closeup card magic. When he had performed several dazzling illusions and seemed ready to retire, a guest named Mort said, “Come on, Ricky. Why don’t you do something truly amazing?”

Baron recalls that at that moment “the look in Ricky’s eyes was, like, `Mort- you have just fucked with the wrong person.’ “

Jay told Mort to name a card, any card. Mort said, “The three of hearts.” After shuffling, Jay gripped the deck in the palm of his right hand and sprung it, cascading all fifty-two cards so that they travelled the length of the table and pelted an open wine bottle.

“O.K., Mort, what was your card again?”

“The three of hearts.”

“Look inside the bottle.”

Mort discovered, curled inside the neck, the three of hearts. The party broke up immediately.

A few more tricks (which seems a small word for the things Jay does) are described in the article, and they make for terrific reading. The article give them their due. But the balance of it is spent trying to figure out what kind of person devotes his life to this kind of magic, and what it’s like to see the world through his eyes. It’s fantastic.

If I could pick up one skill, it might be slight of hand. Just the right sort of uselessness–the kind that has wonder as both its source and result.

Slightly Nightmarish Meditation (June 5, 2006)

I am currently re-reading Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male (1939) , to my great delight. It’s a perfect summer starter, if that category exists. I wonder that Household isn’t better known; certainly, the premise of the book is endlessly facinating, and he writes so engagingly.

The jist: A Englishman abroad for a hunt has the chance to shoot Hitler but does not, for a variety of reasons. He is caught and interrogated (tortured, naturally), and the Germans try to kill him but fail. A chase ensues.

Here’s a sample: In the course of his flight, the narrator enjoys a sea passage spent in the (empty) freshwater tank of a steamer. What does he think of his berth?

I am a good sailor, but even in a first-class stateroom I feel gently and sleepily bilious, disinclined to do more than walk from my cabin to the library and back, or be faintly polite to a fellow passenger at the hour of the aperitif. On the credit side of this voyage was the fact that I hadn’t got to be polite to anyone; on the debit, that I hadn’t got a book. I passed my time in sleep and slightly nightmarish meditation.

Aspects of the book make me wish I could find something on it by Orwell. But whatever he’d say about it, I think it’s top-shelf stuff.

The of Vinci Code (May 22, 2006)

Went to The da Vinci Code Saturday night. Not sure why. I haven’t read the book and have no plans to do so. I’ve plowed through both Foucault’s Pendulum and The Rule of Four, and that ought to be enough religio-historical conspiracy theory for anyone. At least we got to see our local theater’s new Mega-Super-Duper Screen, which was okay.

Anyways, some thoughts:

The sneak peeks:

Good: Casino Royale. Daniel Craig looks like he’ll be the toughest Bond ever. Bond is a killer, and it looks like he’ll play him that way. I might actually see this one in the theater, something I haven’t done with a Bond film since For Your Eyes Only.

Bad: The Omen. Looks incredibly stupid and not scary in the least.

Robert Langdon, Professor of Symbology, whatever that is, managed to get on at Harvard without bothering to learning French. So we know right off how preposterous this is going to get. His lecture early in the movie sounded, as my wife put it, like it was aimed at undergrads. He had a heck of a Powerpoint behind him, though. And Moleskine on his podium, for good measure.

Robert Langdon, Professor of Symbology, whatever that is, ignorant of French but apparently familiar with Latin, seemed surprised when the old San Greal/Sang Real pun was explained to him by a cryptanalyst detective. I recall Dr Tom Remington noting that one, with some amusement, in my sophomore Brit Lit survey class at Northern Iowa.

I wish I still had my copy of Raine Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade to see if Brown lifted anything from it. I read it in my freshman Humanities I survey class at Northern Iowa. If memory serves, it does not live up to the dust-jacket blurb, “The most important book since Darwin’s Origin of Species.”

Candy said she heard women in the bathroom talking about how people who haven’t read the book must find it impossible to follow the film, which she found laughable.

I have no opinion whatsoever about the controversial aspects of the film.

Language Log has quite a few posts on the book, the movie, and the critics.

Opus Dei figures prominently in the story. The movie was directed by Ron Howard, who once played a character named Opie. Coincidence, or something else? Time to look at Mayberry with fresh eyes . . .

On Slackers (May 19, 2006)

In America, Ben Franklin was schooling colonists on how to be healthy, wealthy and wise, but a young Harvard graduate and sometime lawyer, Joseph Dennie, was having none of it. Also known as “Meander,” “Samuel Saunter,” “Charles Chameleon” and the “American Lounger,” Dennie was “the first truly American slacker.” He mocked Franklin’s famous daily work schedule in a series of spoof journal entries: “Did nothing very busily till four. Seized with a lethargic yawn, which lasted till seven.”
~Matthew Price, “A Spicoli State of Mind.”

As much as I like the whole GTD program–and I’ve adopted its precepts at work, with happy results–I think this is fantastic. I’d certainly read Samuel Saunter’s blog.

Don’t forget your dagger, Avery . . . (May 18, 2006)

She closed the carton carefully. First she kissed her father, then she kissed her mother. Then she opened the lid again, lifted the pig out, and held it against her cheek. At this moment her brother Avery came into the room. Avery was ten. He was heavily armed–an air rifle in one hand, a wooden dagger in the other. . . .
The school bus honked from the road.
“Run!” commanded Mrs Arable, taking the pig from Fern and slipping a doughnut into her hand. Avery grabbed his gun and another doughnut.
The children ran out to the road and climbed onto the bus. . . .

This passage sure caught my eye earlier tonight as we began reading White’s Charlotte’s Web. I know times have changed and all, but where and when did kids ever take air guns to school? What was recess like, anyway?

Area Dad Ruins MySpace for Kids (May 12, 2006)

(Decorah IA)

The arrival of John Sandberg’s MySpace Friend Request in the in-boxes of his children was greeted with reactions ranging from eye-rolling to near-panic Monday.

Sandberg, an administrator in the admissions office of a local college, became aware of MySpace when he overheard students discussing the site earlier this year. According to Sandberg, “It sounded so fascinating–exactly the kind of thing we have to be aware of in recruiting and public relations.” Although he considers himself web-savvy, Sandberg’s initial visit to the site left him somewhat confused. “I wouldn’t say the front page was bewildering, exactly, but it definitely looked a bit like a club for insiders, like a whole separate subculture,” he said, adding, “I wanted to be a part of that.”

As the father of two teenagers, Sandberg hopes MySpace will help him connect with Emma, 14, and Joshua, 19, during what he calls “an important stage in their development.” Sandberg hopes to learn more about their interests and activities through their profiles, pictures, and blogs, since “they’re not always what you’d call talkative.”

Joshua and Emily agreed that their father’s sudden appearance on MySpace will alter their own activities there. “I can’t believe he doing this,” said Joshua, a long-time MySpace user. “I had years of memories on there. Suddenly, I had to go back and figure out which ones to hide. This is going to totally wreck it for me.” Likewise, Emily found herself covering her tracks, especially where boys were concerned: “Like I want him watching who’s in my Top 8. That’s creepy.”

Sandberg’s plans for his own MySpace are beginning to take shape. “I think when Josh and Em visit, they’ll be surprised at what their old man is capable of,” Sandberg said. In addition to keeping up a blog with his own book and movie reviews, Sandberg hopes to add pictures of family events, create a group with alumni from his high school, and upload music: “I asked Josh what it would take to put on some music that would really establish the identity of my MySpace, like ‘Radio Free Europe.’ He said he would help me right after he made some updates to his own.”

Poem (May 9, 2006)

Beyond the Cloud People

By cloud people I mean elderly women
Whose white hair poofs out: cumulocirrus.
Between the filaments, blue ether flows.
In would be peaceful to lean my face in . . .

Why don’t I? After all, it’s okay to touch
a pregnant woman, an acquaintance, where she feels
the baby move; I feel it too. We love
the unborn because we love the ideal

of a safe place where even as adults
we can, as over a campfire, warm our hands.

But a cloud hairdo looks cool, cold
As a persons last pillow. Oblivion we solo.

~Roger Fanning, The Island Itself

Delicious Accents (May 9, 2006)

“No man can tell but he that loves his children, how many delicious accents make a man’s heart dance in the pretty conversation of those dear pledges; their childishness, their stammering, their little angers, their innocence, their imperfections, their necessities are so many little emanations of joy and comfort to him that delights in their persons and society; but he that loves not his wife and children, feeds a Lioness at home, and broods a nest of sorrows.”

~Jeremy Taylor, from Sermons (1653)



  1. 1st comment!

    what?! you didn’t copy over my insightful, incisive comments?! ;-)

    Comment by Sean — June 30, 2006 @ 1:03 am

  2. Well, I didn’t want my own words overshadowed by yours :-)

    Comment by jason — July 1, 2006 @ 4:41 pm

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