Posts from August 2002

Like a Japanese woodblock print

I have a scanner again! I'm going to start sorting through some of my 35mm pictures from Alaska and see if there are any to post. I spotted this one right away and used it to test the scanner. It was early morning and everything was serene when I took this picture—it felt like we were inside a Japanese woodblock print.


More spiraling

More spiraling. Jason sent links to information about Fibonacci's Spiral (scroll down) and the Golden Mean. Very interesting reading—especially as the golden ratio relates to art. Also, there's this book: The Curves of Life: Being an Account of Spiral Formations and Their Application to Growth in Nature, to Science, and to Art: With Special Reference. The special reference sounds especially special.

Also, meg's mom spotted a spiraly shirt and clipped it before reading my post.

Book: The Language of Ornament

The Language of Ornament by James Trilling

I'm reading this now and it's fascinating because it brings the background into the foreground. It's the background of backgrounds. It focuses on the evolution of those patterns and styles that are primarily meant to enhance something else rather than be itself. It mentions that 12,000 years ago, people began using spirals to decorate objects. Before that, people made figures (paintings/carvings that were supposed to represent things they saw in the world) but spirals were an early and widespread purely decorative design. (Apparently across cultures.) Since I read this fact, I've been looking for spirals everywhere without finding them. There's something completely asymmetrical about a 2-D spiral, and I'm guessing it doesn't fit into the modern design palette. But I'm determined to find them. With the discovery that DNA is sort of a double-spiral, you'd think it would have an ornamental comeback. Have you seen any spirals out there?

Update: logos, entry, archimedes' spiral.

Define browser extension

I uninstalled something somewhere along the line and lost my Define browser extension. I wrote a new one to take its place and figured I'd share it. I use it most often as a simple spell-checker.

It works like the other IE extensions I've posted before. (Google It, DayPop Links, and Add Link Titles.) After installing, a new entry will appear in the right-click context menu of Internet Explorer called Define. Then you can highlight any word on a web page, right-click, choose Define and a new window will open with that word's definition at When I lost it, I kept using Google It instead, but it isn't quite the same when you're looking for the definition.

Define Setup
(right-click, Save Target As..., click to install. Windows only.)

If you work with SQL Server, you're familiar with its pathetic date formatting options. Check out this great user-defined date formatting function. It works well and it made me realize I need to write something similar for VBScript. The dream is to never have to string together a bunch of DatePart()s again.

The book arrival is interesting timing. It was three years ago today that Pyra (then just Ev, Meg, and I) launched Blogger.

My copy of We Blog: Publishing Online with Weblogs arrived today. skp ordered it for me from, the publisher. (Even authors have to order the book if we want to see it right away.) It's satisfying to see the book in its final form after passing around Word documents for so long. When you're writing and editing you get so mired with details, problems, and deadlines that it's easy to loose site of what you're actually making. Now, after seeing the book it hit me—so that's what I was doing.

There's a patch available for Internet Explorer that fixes some security problems.

I added support for Barnes & Noble and Powells links to the Weblog Bookwatch. So if you link to individual books at these stores (the ISBN must be in the URL) and notify when you update, they'll be included in the mix. It's books only, so the MediaWatch won't be affected by this.

I can't stop playing This Mess We're In by PJ Harvey with Thom Yorke singing. [ra snippet]

Dave is naming names on his weblog. If bloggers become more politically active, I bet we'd find our political leaders tuning into them. (and/or creating them.) I think they'd find it a useful way to take and affect the pulse of their constituants. It's only a small section of their constituancy currently, but more weight for weblogs could mean more participation.

Erik Benson is continuing his work extending the idea behind Weblog Bookwatch with a new site called All Consuming. One nice feature is that he's keeping a cached copy of the weblog on hand so you can see exactly where the book link is in the context of the blog. (A problem I'm attempting to solve by letting people "focus" the link for each book by providing the permalink for the post that mentions the book.) Seeing what he's put together so far has me looking forward to more development. There's so much to be done in this area.

The author behind the Davezilla weblog is being hassled by lawyers from Toho Co., because of the "zilla" in his site's name. Apparently, they feel readers may be confused and think that Davezilla is endorsed by Toho Co. because they own the copyright to "Godzilla." If they want to clamp down on the use of x-zilla and lizard-like creatures they're going to have a huge battle. Once won, they can dig into all of those sites that have "God" in the title as well. Ridiculous.

I haven't digested the trip to Alaska enough to write about it yet. It was so different from any place I've been before, and I know I've only seen a fraction of the surface. Just knowing a place like Alaska exists is forcing me to think about the place I live and the way I live. I definitely want to go back to some of the specific areas we breezed through and spend more time exploring. Until I get that all figured out, pictures! (I whittled it down to 31.)

distant mountains (click to see more)

iceberg (click to see more)

My scanner isn't working at the moment, so I'll have to wait to post some of the 35mm pics I took.

It's good to be home. And more specifically, on land. It's not natural for people to be on the ocean for an extended period of time. (Maybe I feel this way because I grew up in Nebraska, which is about as far away from an ocean as you can be.) It was a fun trip though, and I took 772 pictures. I won't post all of them. (Not all at once, anyway. ;)

Totem Pole
Top of a totem pole in Ketchikan, AK

Golden Gate Bridge
Leaving San Francisco

I'm sitting in an Internet cafe in Skagway, Alaska. The geography is amazing here. I heard someone paraphrasing an early explorer who said, "California has spectacular Yosemite, but Alaska is filled with Yosemites." It's true. The scale of the landscape is like being in Yosemite...everywhere.

The Pacific
On the ocean

My favorite part of the trip has been spending hours just watching the ocean. It's an extreme difference being out on the ocean compared with land; it's a completely flat landscape apparently without life. (Except the occasional bird, whale, or pod of dolphins...they're few and far between.) It's been a rough ride at times, and we've heard the crew mention this is the roughest ride they've had in years. It made sleeping difficult a few nights, and even though I'm on land now I can feel myself rocking. The rocking motion of the waves gets under your skin.

Approaching Juneau

We're about halfway through the trip. We saw land for the first time in two days yesterday at Juneau where we took a trip to the Mendenhall glacier. We're headed for the glaciers of the Tracy Arm tomorrow.

Mendenhall Glacier
A canoe in front of the Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier
The Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau

The purity of the moonlight,
Falling out of the immense sky,
Is so great that it freezes
The water touched by its rays.

- Anonymous
from One Hundred Poems from the Japanese, Kenneth Rexroth

Blogroots has a new look and some new features. I'm most excited about the potential of Blogpopuli, a TrackBack-powered post aggregator. Basically it's a way of asking weblog authors who post about weblogs to let Blogroots know when they do. In return, Blogpopuli posts an excerpt and a link directly to that post. TrackBack is built into Movable Type, but if someone isn't using that they can still participate with the ping form. We've also put some systems in place for adding resources and reviewing them. It's pretty bare in there right now, because we need to spend some time describing and reviewing tools. But I think it will be very valuable, especially for people new to the weblog world. I see it as a way for more experienced weblog authors to share some of their knowledge of the tools and resources with others.

I'm leaving on Wednesday for 10 days and I probably won't be able to update or check email. I'll be back with lots of pictures.
" these coast landscapes there is such indefinite, on-leading expansiveness, such a multitude of features without apparent redundance, their lines graduating delicately into one another in endless succession, while the whole is so fine, so tender, so ethereal, that all penwork seems hopelessly unavailing. Tracing shining ways through fiord and sound, past forests and waterfalls, islands and mountains and far azure headlands, it seems as if surely we must at length reach the very paradise of the poets, the abode of the blessed."

- John Muir, Travels in Alaska
I'm thinking my trip will be like this.

Yet another Weblog Bookwatch addition: Top 50. Stopping The Privatization Of Public Knowledge:
"Preserving the information commons may not be a topic of kitchen-table conversation just yet. But it is fast becoming a hot issue. With a few more turns of the screw by the content autocrats -- snooping on people's computers, lawsuits against individual file-sharers, intrusive new attempts to control personal behavior -- the fledgling movement to reclaim popular control of the information commons may explode into a mainstream juggernaut."
This article points out how absurd our laws have become as a company sued an avant-garde composer over a few minutes of silence. (To which the composer replied, "My silence is original silence, not a quotation from his silence.") The information commons might not be a kitchen-table topic, but it's definitely a weblog topic. Lawrence Lessig has done an amazing job of popularizing the problems with our copyright and patent systems in this community. Now it's a matter of bringing this subject to the attention of others. [link via sotd]

According to the FBI, there are just 200 hard-core Al-Queda members worldwide. [via Tom Tomorrow] This seems like a big story, but I haven't heard anything about it on CNN or anywhere else. At one time the experts were saying there were more than 5,000 Al-Queda members.

My cousin Matt's band, The Eye, is trying to get some exposure on their local radio station in Omaha. You could give them a hand by going here and voting for the second group that contains I Am Siam by The Eye. (You can also download that song and others from their site.) It's a close race.

Update: The voting has closed and they won! (by a good margin.) If you voted, thanks for pitching in. If you're in Omaha, you'll soon hear The Eye at 89.7 on your FM dial.