Friday, December 31, 2010

Everything Cat

Felis catus, caught here between light and shadow, posing in the fading sun of this last day of an arbitrary calendar year.

Momentarily content and mindlessly watchful, she is, gorgeously, everything cat.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rain On!

I got a *very* cool present this holiday season: an "unbreakable" umbrella.

For those of us with various weapons training, anything we happen to have in hand we think of as a weapon, at least under the right circumstances. Umbrellas -- kind of obvious that way. Except, of course, that most of them are kind flimsy. To quote one reviewer, "Whacking someone with a regular cheap umbrella will leave a welt and a very angry opponent, and the umbrella will be destroyed."

Not so this one. Heck, you can stand on it. In this video a fellow does just that before cutting in half a watermelon.

Because, you know, sometimes you don't have a knife handy. Ha ha.

No, seriously, this is tres cool. A quality umbrella -- that solid *thup* sound it makes when opening -- which, should you need to whack a watermelon (or punching bag) really hard can stand up to the task.

Lifetime warranty, of course.

My lifetime. Natch.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Christ Story

I need some help here with the Christ thing. Maybe one of you can explain to me how this works.

I have a casual understanding of the Christ story, an understanding that comes from talking to Christian friends and reading the bible, so there is a lot I don't get.

It being the season I've lately been listening to a lot of Christmas carols, and in the course of paying attention to the lyrics, I keep coming back to a few things that I don't quite understand.

The star thing. Did everyone really know this baby was the special lord guy when he was born? Or did the star-means-Christ-is-born knowledge arrive after the fact in a revisionist sort of way?  Because if everyone knew that Christ was this powerful guy in baby form then it would seem to me that not only his birth but his whole upbringing would have been fraught with all kinds of danger and close calls and we'd hear lots of stories about how he barely escaped death some ten or twenty times a day, and I don't hear about that.

Also, I seem to recall from some story somewhere that Jesus' parents had other children. If his parents knew he was this special from the start, wouldn't he know, too? Surely his siblings would have figured it out, too and wouldn't that have put some strain on the family dynamics? "Your brother's special, sweetie, and while we love you all, we love him -- differently. By the way, don't drink that water after he's handled it and for sure no eating those crackers he's touched."

Again, I'm sure there's plenty I don't understand.  Anyone want to help me make sense of this?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I became a Kate Bornstein fan this week.  I didn't mean to. I wasn't planning to. There was just this talk at Babeland, which if you live in Seattle and you're a babe you have to visit, so I was in the neighborhood...

She was fabulous, just fabulous.  In the ballgame of public speaking she hit it into the next ballpark. (Sorry.  Never was that good at sports metaphors.)

People laughed, cried, and wanted more.

Her basic message: life is worth living, and you can make it better, and here's how.  And one more thing to anyone who wants it: a get out of Hell free card. Just don't be mean.

Nicely done, Kate.

Want a taste?  Try this.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I'm still immature enough that when someone makes my point for me I jump up and down and say hey, cool, I was making that point years ago!

Decades, actually.  When I was a snotty young brat, I considered the common demographic question of "race" and thoughtfully and stubbornly started answering "mutt".

Because, like most people, I'm a bit of a mix. Besides what the parents say, there are always the Family Secrets. Statistically speaking, we are unlikely to be strictly the descendants of those who claim us.

Life just ain't as tidy as the forms would have us believe. And it mattered to me, way back when, despite the raised eyebrows, to make that point.  Mutt.

Turns out gender isn't always tidy, either. When I read this here discussion of the ambiguities of gender, which also mentions race, I got all happy and started jumping up and down. That's my point! Yeah!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Ooo, Snow!

I love the way my mind works. Put me in a warm, toasty room and show me a snowstorm outside through the window and my puppy-like mind says "Ooo, snow, fun! Walk! Walk!"

Wait, I say. You know it's cold out there? I mean, really really cold?

"Ooo, snow! Walk, walk!" The puppy-mind whines eagerly.

Look, I say, see how the snow's not falling gently, but cutting sideways with the wind?


I know where this will end. It won't shut up about how much fun it will be outside. Or would be if I would just let us go out-out-out. Out where it's not merely below freezing but the wind is enthusiastically cutting delicate skin with knifetips of ice.

It's snowing, slippery, and the wind is biting. Sensible people are inside, toasting themselves in the bliss of modern heaters.

Those without puppies in their heads, anyway.

I know I'll lose this fight, so I wrap up as best I can, pull on boots and out we go, my puppy-mind and me. Outside, it's dark. The cold quickly sucks away illusions of warm-and-safe. We walk down a quiet, icy cityscape that suddenly seems odd and wild.

"Ooo, snow!" says my puppy-brain.

Then, a few minutes later: "Ooo, cold!"

And then: "Can we go back now?"

Yeah, that's what I thought. But at least the whining will stop for a while.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Myth of Self-Defense

I'm pissed again. This is why I don't attend martial arts classes any more, why my answer to "what martial arts have you done?" is "oh, this and that."

Because most martial arts talk is posturing and pretense and ego, not much to do with effective self-defense. Which I do care about.

I'm not going off on a rant how most martial arts practices have little or nothing to do with self-defense, or how most MA teachers haven't a clue how little they know about what they think they're teaching. Heck, I'm barely going to touch on how much worse than useless most "women's self-defense" training is. All that would take a book. This one is a good start.

But I will say this: if someone you care about really needs self-defense, give them a few critical basics:

1. No matter how much experience they say they have, your teacher can be oh-so wrong. They don't know what you know about your body, your mind, or your self defense situation. And gosh, if they aren't listening to you, they know even less.

2. Anyone who won't talk to you about why they teach specific moves, who can't answer "but why not just walk away?", does not know what they are doing.

3. Belts don't matter. Martial arts lineages don't matter. The name of the school doesn't matter. All those weapons on the wall? The big, lovely Japanese kanji? Irrelevant. Absolutely irrelevant.

4. You don't need lots of fancy moves. More techniques isn't the answer. You need one move -- just one -- that works. Okay, maybe two. Listen: if it's hard to do when you're calm, on flat ground, in a well-lit room, how hard will it be to do in the rain, on slippery pavement in the dark? Those moves should be simple.

If you want a good teacher, find someone who doesn't need to convince you that they're a good teacher. Find someone who teaches out of their garage. Find someone who, when you learn a bunch of moves, won't give you a belt.

And to the guy who tried to teach me women's self-defense tonight, who is probably nearly as annoyed as I am by the experience, who thinks pain and damage are the same thing, who told me that if I raise my arm over my head I'll be taller than my attacker:

I hope you find out how how little you know before you teach this stuff to any other woman who might actually need to use it. But I bet you won't.

We don't really live in a very violent place or time. Most of the women who learn these "self-defense" practices will never need them. I console myself with that.

And yet, somehow, I'm still pissed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Making Relationships Last

Do everything else first. Just kidding.

I have an answer to the age-old question of making relationships last. It's really quite simple. Two guidelines:

1. Hear what you want to hear.

2. Anything else is small stuff. Ignore it.

You have to get past the idea of right and wrong. Communication in relationships is not about right and wrong and it sure isn't about peace, love and understanding. As Mr. Shaw says, "The problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred."

We don't communicate. We think we have, and that's all very well and good, but mostly we haven't. Since we're hallucinating about communicating anyway, let's hallucinate in a way that makes things work better. Makes sense, right?

A bit more detail:

Hear what you want to hear. This is easier than it sounds, since most people use lots of words when they talk and. You're smart -- just pick out the words that work best for you. Once you practice this a bit, it becomes surprisingly easy.

Ignore the small stuff. People get into fights because they think something matters a lot, but the fight is almost never about the subject in front of you. No, it's about some deeper principle or universal injustice. Sure, fight for fun if you want to, but don't fight the wrong battle. And when it comes to relationships, it's almost always the wrong battle. The actual thing in front of you? Small. Inconsequential. Ignore it.

There you have it. Go on, try these two guidelines. If in 20 years you're not still together with whoever, well. I'll give you your money back. Heck, I might even admit I was wrong.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Down and Dirty

Plenty of down, but day one of the Miller's weekend seminar, loosly dubbed "Violence Dynamics", wasn't all that dirty. Day two made up for the clean mats and white walls with ground fighting in a dirty cement warehouse and full-contact conflict scenarios.

The things I do for fun!

No sense in wrestling words around to describe it if I can find someone else to say it better. Brent writes about the workshop here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Name in Print! Mmmmm!

I had another tango article accepted recently for publication in a journal. I got nuthin' but good things to say about being published. It's the cat's whiskers and the cat. Attached to each other!

I don't know why, but it didn't occur to me to mention it here. (In my blog. Didn't occur to me. Talk to myself often? Quiet, you.) As it happens, I recently (and cleverly) put together a mailing list. (Thank you, Yahoo, and while I'm here, why did Google drop the ball on Google groups? Yahoo groups is nothing to brag about, but Google is worse. Color me stunned -- doing groups right is neither hard nor subtle. But I digress.)

If you happen to be among my three regular readers who aren't yet on my publications announcement mailing list and want to be, drop me a note, or post in the comments, and your wish shall be granted.

My name in print. Mmmmm.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rocks and Soap

I have a confession to make. Well, technically, two. And not so much a confession as a discovery.

I collect rocks.

I discovered this while unpacking my things. Things, with a capital "T". Among my various things I found I was unpacking rocks. Small rocks, big rocks. White and black. Pretty and plain. All, apparently, with some fair significance.

I know they have significance because I distinctly remember, two moves ago, giving away a whole bunch of them to friends -- black and white, pretty and plain -- and resolving to keep only those few lovelies had lots of special significance. That were important. That were especially -- well, special.

Despite this, somehow, I have in my possession a bunch of rocks. A nice, healthy collection.

For a moment I consider getting rid of some of them, these special (and perhaps not so special) rocks. A certain reluctance wells up inside me. One might even go so far as to say a "hell, no! These are mine."

I confess: I am helpless in the face of these lovelies. My rocks. My collection.

I don't think I really need to explain about the soap.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hacker Humor

As a writer and devoted documenter-of-my-code, I found these laugh-out-loud hilarious.  Heck, maybe this even qualifies as a geek test. You read it and tell me, k?

Top funny source code comments

And if you've got more, tell me. (Maybe that's the real test, wanting more.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Annoyed Much?

To be an upstanding citizen in Washington state means putting up with the most impressive and costly civic crap I've ever seen.  Waiting times, permits, fees, lines and other bureaucratic goo so sticky that it's a caricature of government.

Pretend, for a moment, you are getting your driver's license. In Oregon, you walk in to the DMV and 20 minutes later you've got your card. You walk out, you do something useful.

Here in the good old state of waah, 3 hour waits are not uncommon.

Three HOURS?!

Because, of course, citizen time isn't important.

Not long ago, I took the motorcycle class to get my endorsement.  I figured it was the right thing to do. It was inconvenient, expensive, and hard work, but I did it. When it's all over the instructor sez: "Take this card to a Licensing Office and get your endorsement."

That means go to a Licensing Office, and stand in line for your driver's license.  Last time I did that it was indeed three hours.

Ever wonder why Washington ID photo faces are tense and annoyed?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fun and a Dome

I got to do some very cool things last weekend. I got to sit at an outdoor fire under the stars, I got to listen to people speaking their truth through fear, and I got to dance on the knife-edge of my own identity.

And I got to hang out in this exceedingly cool dome.

It was massive amounts of fun.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sexist Humor — Friendly Fire

Or... How to ask for a raise if you're just a gyrl.  I enjoyed a laugh this morning with this advice from Women's Day on how to ask for a raise: wash it. Wash it good.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A different email approach

1) I read this article about researcher Donald Redelmeier

2) He uses numbered lists in his email responses

3) He says this is to focus on the message's content rather than be distracted by grammar, punctuation, syntax

4) Despite my affection for the various structures of the written word, I am intrigued by this (2)

5) I notice it also allows me to easily reference previous points

6) He says lots of other interesting things in (1)

7) One of my favorites: “Do not get trapped into prior thoughts. It’s perfectly O.K. to change your mind as you learn more.”

8) I've been emailing for over 30 years. I'm ready to try a different approach.

9) What do you think?  Anyone tried this or recieved emails like this?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting Better

A strange thing happens when you study something for years and years, accepting (repeatedly) that you're just not very good at it and allowing (repeatedly) that you may never understand why you keep doing it anyway.

You get better.  Maybe not fast, maybe not when you expect to, but in time, eventually.

I've been videoing myself dancing, weekly, with the same partner to the same music for a few months now.  I've been studying the videos, and to my surprise the woman I'm watching is looking more and more like a dancer.

I'm guessing you're thinking one of three things: "well, duh", or "how can you be sure?", or even "who cares?"  If it's the last, go read my Awesome post. (Right now. You'll love it.)

If it's "how can you be sure?" I answer: it's about smoothness, and musicality. Posture. But it's also something that's hard to define but you know when you see it.  Grace.  Something I never thought I'd see in myself.

And if it's "well, duh"?  To you I made a cute piss-off gesture that you find amusing, feisty and adorable all at once, and you resolve to bring me some fabulously tasty chocolates next time you come to watch me dance.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hot. Brain. Melt.

So hot your brain feels like it's melting.  So hot that riding from place A to place B I found myself deciding to go buy things near by at an air-conditioned store, rationalizing the need to go there TODAY, NOW to get stuff.  As if my brain were a whining child. A scheming, clever, and insidious whining child.

Get us out of the heat and brain forgets. Back in the heat it starts whining again.  It's almost funny, which is why I am sitting at a red light, heavy jacket, boots and black helmet, the sun crashing down, heat worming its way into my melting brains, and I'm chuckling.  In case you were in a nearby car, wondering.

It'll pass. Of course it will.  Then it'll be cool again. And too soon, it'll be too cold again.

But today Hot. Brain. Melt.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Consultants Need Ears

Yesterday I consulted with the management of a local non-profit about their online communication channels. It was intended to be a presentation about blogs and blogging practices, but when I got there it was clear that they hadn't really looked at their online communications in total - newsletter, events listing, facebook and twitter feeds - with an eye to who they were trying to reach and what they wanted to accomplish.

I changed my presentation on the spot because the client, this organization, needed something other than what I'd come in to talk about. I'm flexible. I give the client what they need.

Apparently not all consultants do this. They don't start by asking questions. I won't speculate on why, but - okay, I will. They can get away with it? They think it makes them look weak to ask questions?

You can manage to give a perfectly useless presentation on any subject if you simply disregard the audience's needs. I know, I've done it. I've seen the glazed look in my listeners' eyes, heard the polite applause. Resolved not to do it again.

You know you've done good when you leave people jazzed and ready to go to work. When I was done the director shook my hand, all grins and eager for the next step. She was glad I hadn't told them they were doing it all wrong.

Which they weren't. A few things maybe, which I told them in a way that played to their strengths, not their weaknesses. After all, the idea is to give the client useful tools, not convince them I know more than they do.

We covered what I came in to talk about, too, but we started somewhere else. And that is, in my mind, what a consultant ought to do: cover the ground that needs covering. This seems obvious, but I know there are plenty of well-paid people who fail to start with the most important step in giving solid value as a consultant: asking the right questions and listening to what the client answers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Better at Me

I'm coming off a weekend of a lot of tango dancing with friends and strangers and some things have occurred to me.  It's funny how the stuff you hear over the years comes back to you in waves of meaning and applicability.  For example, what if I only took steps that were right for me at the moment, rather than pushing myself to take a step because I thought it was expected?  What if I took my time with each step, even at the risk of being late?  Would this change my dance?

Most certainly it would.  I've been doing that, more and more, and it's -- delicious.

And of course tango is a mirror for life.

Someone recently said to me between dances, his eyes wide and his tone full of surprise, "there's something about the way you dance... it feels like-- like you bring something to the conversation."

Well, yes. In tango, the woman's role -- we say "the follow" in this country, but that's sort of a confusing term -- is about listening.  As is the man's role.  But the woman's role is also about responding, about saying something in return.  About making it a conversation. Too many men -- "leads" -- don't get that part.   And by "don't get" I don't just mean don't understand.  I mean never receive.  What a shame.

I realized something recently about why I dance tango, and I've been saying it a lot lately:

I don't dance tango to get better at tango.  I dance tango to get better at me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lessons Learned between Home and Hospital

Advice to those who suddenly have a person in the ER

Turns out that the moment you walk into the ER with chest pressure, pain, or discomfort, you are sucked into a vortex that does not, even under the best of circumstances, spit you out for hours and days. I think that's because no one who needs to buy liability insurance wants to let you out the door if there's any chance you'll die because they didn't do some test.

As luck would have it, I wasn't the one being tested. I did all the other things, like medications, clothes, cats, updates, and trying not to panic.

And I learned a few things. Here's my advice to those in the non-professional caretaker position, about what to do when someone you love goes into the ER and you are left holding all the other bags.

  • Slow down. Yes, I know, it seems urgent, and it might well be, but unless you're training regularly to do this urgent thing and do it fast, whether driving, answering questions, or gathering clothes, you are not good at it, and it will take longer if you rush. And if you make a mistake, the costs are high; your person doesn't need you crashing the car, tripping and breaking something, or leaving the stove on because you're dropping bits. Slow down, even more. If you get there a few minutes later, it won't make as much difference as having fed the poor cat, made sure you've got all your stuff, and not crashing the car. Slow. Down. More.

    I was about to leave the house. I made myself stop, take a deep breath, and look around. What did I have with me? What did I need? Everything was suddenly more complicated than I was used to.

  • Take care of the care-taker. That's you. Sleep, eat, cry, call friends, get hugs. It does your person no good to watch you deteriorate with stress while they're stuck in the hospital. You're ready to fight for your person, right? Fight for yourself first. Notice when you feel guilty for not being the sick one or for enjoying something, and fight that, too. Eating, sleeping, resting, working out, wearing clean clothes -- whatever sustains you -- is essential. It's not about fun, it's about oxygen. Don't drown while trying to rescue someone else.

    While my person was taking a test to determine if he would be allowed to leave the hospital, I went swimming at the gym. To do that, I put off friends and was late to the hospital. But the test ended up being late, too, and I was calmer after the workout.

  • Have a kit. You'll be tossing stuff into bags, like changes of clothes and books and suchlike for your person. But also have a bag just for you, which should contain your book, paper, pens, phone, keys, a thermos of your favorite tea, more snacks than you think you need, and so on. I used a backpack and reserved the front pocket for my keys, phone, the contact info for the nurse, and the address where I was going next, so I always knew where my most critical stuff was located.

  • Take notes. Write down everything doctors and nurses tell you-- possible causes, room numbers, test names, medications, names and locations. Date the pages. Use lots of paper. Most of it won't be useful, but what is useful is very useful. Also, it gives you something to do when you're in the hospital, which is a strange place where you will often feel out of place. Don't fall for that--you're critically important for your person, and taking notes and asking questions is a big part of your job. Speaking of asking questions, ask questions. Nurses and doctors are trained to get you to comply and to get out of the way. Be cooperative, of course, but (politely) get all questions answered.

  • Be prepared to wait. One of the most draining parts of this process is waiting when you're revved up for a crisis. You switch into high gear for the initial emergency, and then you sit at the hospital for hours, days, or weeks, waiting. How can you be prepared? Bring a book, a pad and pen, your laptop or phone, but most of all, adjust your expectations: you will not get the stuff done you usually do, even if you bring it with you, because you're hyped and everything is strange. Other good things to do: walk around, stretch, breathe, call a friend. Wait outside, wait inside. Tour the hospital. Move.

  • Use social media. I chose twitter as my way of keeping friends and family in the loop. Sure, some of them won't follow it and then you'll need to use the phone, but you'll save yourself a lot of repetition and urgent calls from people when you don't have time by pointing everyone at the same twitter feed or facebook page for updates. If you're not sure how to use it, have one of your friends who is offering to help to be your interface. Once people find out, they'll want to know what's up, again and again, and not always when you have time to talk.

  • Accept help. When a friend or family member offers to accompany you, say yes. Moral support and another set of eyes to help you remember things that you will absolutely forget is a really good idea. But you might not get that help, or might not get it right away. If you don't have that help, it's even more important to take every step slowly, to ask questions as often as you need to, to review your notes, to think about what to bring a third time.

  • Plan for exhaustion. When the end is in sight, carve out some real time -- hours, days -- to sleep and be useless. When the end hits, even if it's the best possible outcome, you are likely to be far more exhausted than you realize while you're hyped and ready to do whatever it takes to get your person through the crisis. Yes, you might need to call in sick after taking time off for this crisis. It's easy to underestimate how much this can take out of you. Plan for it and you might need less of it. Tough it out and you might need more.

This is hard work, having a person in the hospital. You can tell yourself that others have it far worse, that at least your person is still breathing, that we are all lucky to have medical care-- and all that might be true, but this is still hard work. Just because you're not the one running around in scrubs or the one lying there in the bed doesn't mean you aren't doing real, hard work. You are.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I remember when "awesome" began standing in for "that's nice" in casual conversation. My friends and I would use it to mock the verbal trends, along with "tubular!" and "gag me with a spoon!"


Dig it, man!

That was some many years ago. Listen, kids, the awesome thing?  It's gotten old. Move on. Seriously.

So I'm on a boat (no, really) and I'm talking to this guy named Travis. Travis is in his 30s and of an age to have been exposed to "awesome" as a simple conversational device growing up.  He's sharp, well spoken, and generally has an adult demeanor.  (Mostly. We're on a boat, after all).

So we're chatting about this and that and the a-word pops out of his mouth.  I pause, because (in case you forgot) we're on a boat, and when nothing urgent is happening on a boat, you're busy chatting, pausing, and sucking down beer. I'm in the pausing phase.

I say, "Listen, Travis, what happens if something truly awesome happens to you?  What if--" I look around at clear blue sky and squint against brilliant sun, "what if God Itself comes down from the Heavens and says--" Here I drop my voice, to make it sound ponderous and, you know, god-like. "Traaaaviiiissss!"

I have his attention now.

"What," I ask, infusing my voice with as much gravitas as I can summon, "are you going to say?"

I've asked this question before of people Travis' age and younger while trying to keep the peevedness out of my tone, because, I admit, it does peeve me; watering down superlatives is bad for words everywhere. They generally answer, "well, I guess I'd say 'really awesome!' or 'wow!'".

"Double-plus awesome", maybe?  Or they look at me uncomprehendingly.  Yeah, I get that look a lot. I'm getting used to it.

But Travis is a cut above and clever as well, and we're on a boat, where thoughts sometimes come clear in surprising ways.  I'm hoping he'll say something I haven't heard before.

"Nothing," He replies. "There are no more words."

I am delighted. I grin back. He's got that right. Use up all your superlatives, and you're left with nothing. Silence.

Which, now that I think about it, isn't such a bad thing. I'm on a boat, the day is clear and warm, the beer is flowing, the company is good.

Silence. Companionable silence, thoughtful silence, intriguing silence.  Given the words that often come out of people's mouths, I find I'm coming to like silence a lot.  It's great.  It's fine.

It's awesome.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Some thoughts on a horse

And what is it that makes this commercial so -- tasty? Most assuredly nom nom. I had to watch it twice and then again to try to sort it out in my head. Not my head, you say? Too distracted to argue that. It's not that he's -- well, yes, it is that he's gorgeous and his voice is like unfiltered pheromone-laced honey.

Nice. Real nice. Better watch it again.

This is what happens when commercialism, sex and art collide: a man on a horse who has my attention. So they made another, worth watching if you like the first, here.

So I watch again. How many times do I need to watch this before I'm tired of this guy?

Surreal? You betcha. Gorgeous? Oh yeah.

Eleven million views. Impressive for a commercial.

Think there's room on that horse for me?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Use of Force

Today was tons of fun. We met in a grimy tavern in a grimy part of town, most of us martial artists for a decade or more, for a self-defense seminar taught by the pretty darned impressive Rory Miller, a man I consider one of my best fighting arts teachers.

We practiced what techniques we knew, and then practiced some things we thought we knew, like power generation, which we now know better. We did scenario fights with weapons and cars and and padded attackers, and after each one discussed how we'd justify use of force. Say you actually do hurt someone in self-defense, how do you explain what you did to a judge or a jury?  You have to understand legal issues of force and self-defense. You have to think.

The range of experience in the room was impressive and a delight to work with, but for me the great part was watching myself and those around me think in new ways about self defense.

Too many martial arts schools are clean, well-lit studios that teach that self-defense is about a bad guy attacking and you defending, and it's that simple. But in the real(er) world, there are chairs and tables, stuff on the floor, coolers with handles. There is your kid in the back seat of your car. There are guys with egos who won't back down, and there are innocent bystanders, and in the thick of it, you can't always tell the difference.

And there are many, many times when the best thing to do is to walk away.

What, Miller asks us in each scenario, is your goal?  What do you want? As much fun as thumping on each other is to us fighting arts geeks, what most of us want is to go home in one piece, not to engage in violence.  To study safety in the midst of danger and go home unharmed, to look at this subject after decades of training and learn new things -- wow.

I had a blast.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"This should not happen!"

Just today a friend reported this message as output from a large software system.  Any code base of sufficient size will include a variation of this statement, often as debugging output. Why?  Because the programmer can clearly see that the possible path in question should not happen.  Because he or she can look at and see that you just can't get there from here.

But you can.  You very much can.

It makes me laugh and it makes me quite nostalgic, because with some minor rewording, this was the very first output message that my first program spat out at me.  There I was, running my first ever code (PLM, since you asked) and suddenly I'm trying to hide the whole thing and blushing as well, because, you see, in those days the output went to a printer, not a console, and it was loud.  The same message, over and over, saying, in effect, "programmer looses."

Of course, it's not just us programmers who say this sort of thing. All of us have asserted, at one time or another, that something could not possibly be, that an event's occurrence was -- inconceivable.

"That word.  I don't think it means what you think it means..."

It doesn't.  And it's not.  And you can, indeed, get there from here.

And what does this tell us?  Perhaps that we don't understand cause and effect anywhere near as well as we think we do, even (and perhaps especially) those of us with more than our share of smarts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Me? No way!

I did my first Toastmaster's speech today, and it was recorded, so I watched it.  Sure, I've been recorded before.  Tons of times.

No, now that I think about it, not really very much.  A bit here and there, some of the dancing, but not really much in the way of presentations.

As I watched I realized with growing astonishmen that I'm actually a pretty good speaker.  At least this time I was. Funny, clear, charming.  Adorable.


I don't think of myself as adorable.  Me, adorable?

I watched it again, just to be sure.  Yep, that woman there, talking about tango and love, she's - adorable.  No two ways about it.

Me, adorable!  Who would have thought?

Sunday, June 13, 2010


So I bought a bike the other day.  Test rode it and discovered to my annoyance (but, alas, not my surprise) that my bike-riding condition is not what I imagined it to be.  Man, this stuff is hard.  I'm assured by men with big smiles that it'll get easier with time.

When I bought my first bike, it had ten speeds on one side, and two on the other, and I was very confused but pretended to know what I was doing.  Now I'm mature enough to not need to pretend any more.

"So one is the easiest?"


"And if I'm going up a steep hill and it's too hard for me, one ought to do it?"


"And for the other thingie on the other side, one again?"


"And what if that's still too hard?"

He didn't seem to have an answer for that.  Turns out the answer is you walk the bike, and for someone who's walked a 90 pound occasionally resistant dog, walking a thing with wheels and no resistance is no big deal, no matter how steep the hill.

And mostly, I did ride.  One-one a lot of the time, but ride I did.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Magic of the Dance

The amazing thing about this dance is what's unspoken: you're talking to someone without words. As you become a better speaker, as you find people who you can talk with more easily and often, and now and then profoundly, the conversation gets more intense, more delicate.

Think about this for a moment: what sorts of conversations do you have with people without words?

So when it works, when two people somehow make this dance work, this non-verbal communication of some fair subtlety, well.  Those are some fine moments.  They can be very affecting.  Intimate.

Tonight I met a stranger, and with barely two words spoken between us, we stepped onto the floor and we danced. From the first movement I knew it was something special.  Uncommonly smooth, slow. Velvety. As the music gathered itself and leapt, luxuriated, and wound around, I remembered why I do this insanely hard dance, with all its frustrations and agonies.  For a few dances, I felt the grace and rightness of the world.  It was a bit like being in love.

But this fellow who was a stranger before we danced and was something else after was no more to be held onto than a rainbow. So we exchanged a smile, a thank-you, and we both went on to our next partners. That's how it goes.  The moments are what you get.

And for a few glorious moments last night, it all came together. For a few moments last night, the birds sang, the flowers bloomed, and I Danced.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

That Oil Spill Thing

How about that Oil Spill, eh?  Sure is big.


Yeah, I was angry. Outraged. Then I was incredulous.  Then I was angry again.  Pissed.

And then, somehow, I stopped thinking about it. At least until the news came on again, and then - angry, outraged, incredulous.  Then I stopped thinking about it.  Why?

It's just too big, and I'm just too small.  My fantasies about stuffing BP execs down the hole to see if their big [egos / capatalist short-sighted stupidity / asses - pick your fave] might plug it notwithstanding, there's just nothing I can do.

Nothing I can do about what could be the biggest environmental disaster of our time. If I think about it, I'll feel - sick. Scared. Angry. Outraged.


Friday, May 21, 2010


I was charmed by this talk on optimism and programming languages (written version) by Reg Braithwaite. I also recently read "Learned Optimism" by Dr. Martin Seligman (which I'm not linking to because everyone links to Amazon, and hey, let's buy from our local bookstores instead, what say?)  The talk is pretty long, but it's good, and if you're only interested in the optimism angle (and if you think optimism is dumb, as I used to, you should be), just read until he starts talking about code.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Rosemary

Yesterday was Mother's Day, so I planted a garden. No, that's not why, but it seemed like a good day for it. And, yes, I did call my mother, thanks for asking! (Hi, Mom!)

You'll want to know what I planted, I suppose. I'm an old fashioned girl, raised on Simon and Garfunkel, so you know what I planted.

Except for the rosemary. No need.

There's a lot of rosemary in Seattle. And some of these bushes are nearly as big as trees. I have this feeling that if you have more than a square foot of dirt under your control and you don't have rosemary, you ought to be looking over your shoulder. Something about the way the rosemary looks at me as I walk by, I guess.

Rosemary doesn't mess around. It makes small, practical flowers. It puts out a powerful scent. It handles drought and water with equal aplomb. It's not invasive like mint or ivy - that would be, well, rude. But it's quite serious.

Actually, I wonder if maybe there's only one rosemary plant in this city. And the roots go way, way down.

Sure, take some sprigs as you walk by. No problem. The rosemary has plenty to spare. It's not afraid of you and your little fingers. It'll just make more.

I see rosemary, I nod respectfully.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Because I like to live indoors

Bottom line: if you control a person's paycheck you affect their food and shelter, and when they get scared they will lie to you. It's that simple.

Managers in various walks of corporate life like to tell themselves a different story: if we work hard to gain employee trust, if we are good to our word, if we provide well-understood performance expectations, employees will have no reason to deceive us.

But it ain't so. Yes, you should do all that, but it won't fix this. This is not just about being good or not being evil, because when someone is scared, when they think their rent or mortgage or food supply is threatened - even if it's not true - they will do what they think they need to do to survive. These are really primitive fears. If you think you're not like that, imagine having to choose between telling an employer some unpleasant fact you can avoid telling them, and your child going hungry.

When we're afraid, we spin stories. We tint our explanations to what we think our listener wants to hear, so we can make whatever point we're trying to make. It's not a hard line, that line from slant to lie, not when you're using language, which is challenging enough already, and not when you're standing in front of a manager, wondering in one gut-wrenching awful moment if you're about to lose your job.

People are touchy about their paychecks, especially these days. Perfectly understandable.  They figure it's maybe not a good time to  cause trouble. When they're talking to the guy who controls the money, they consider every word they say.

So managers hear what employees think they want to hear. And when employees get scared, what managers hear can get real confusing.

Is there a way out of this mess? I think there is, but it means, at very least, restructuring corporate control, and that's a sticky wicket because those in corporate power positions are just as afraid as anyone else of losing what they have. Wealthy powerful executives and less wealthy less powerful middle managers get scared about food and shelter, too, even if they don't say it that way. Yeah, it's absurd, but this is about perception, not about facts. For the most part, humans don't act from observation of facts, but from fear. And we do, very much, like to live indoors.

If there's a way out of this mess, I want to find it. Better yet, I want to live it. I want to work in that corporation where people are not afraid of their managers, where when management says their job is about service, they mean it and employees believe it.

Yeah, it takes risk to get there. When I had control of the corporate reigns, I took those risks. I didn't take them all. I tried to straddle the line between what seemed possible and what seemed sensible. That edge is a scary place to play, especially when you've got responsibility for other people's food and shelter - not to mention your own. Because I like to live indoors, too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Thyme

It must be the season of Spring
Ze flowers so brightly go zing!
Popping from treeses
Seducing - the teases!
Then it's over, like some kind of fling.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Quoting Me

So I'm surfing the google sea, there looking for things I've written but forgotten about, and I come across this lovely quote from the webpage of an old acquaintance that I swear I don't remember writing, but does sound surprisingly like me, and what do you know, it's not bad:
Basic Flying Rules: Try to stay in the middle of the air. Do not go near the edges. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees, and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.
Sounds like me, all right.

And this one, thoughtfully collected for me by someone I simply don't remember:
Dedication is not measured in suffering-units.
Which sounds very much like me. Flying, suffering - am I an expert on these things because I'm quotable? Sure, why not.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Enter Stage Left, Exit Stage Right

About six years ago I lost someone. It wasn't death that took her, but misunderstanding and fear. I did everything I could to keep her, but I failed. So I cried, I lamented, I agonized. I railed at God. I went on.

That's how it goes: we lose love, someone dies, is destroyed, leaves. We object, agonize, lament, rail at God. Then - somehow - we go on. Sometimes the pain is so wretched, so unbearable, that it seems nearly certain we'll die from it. But mostly we don't. We keep breathing. We keep walking.

Recently I lost someone again. This one is more fresh, so of course it feels more poignant, as such things do. The loss is just as hard, just as wretched, and seems just as permanent.

But you know, nothing is all that permanent. It comes on stage left, exits stage right. Indeed it was this particular friend in whose company I came to a better understanding of this lack of permanence, of stage left and stage right. Nothing was the same for me after that.

Loss of a person has the feel of a freshly dug, freshly inhabited, freshly filled grave. You look at the dirt, you think about your love, and you marvel at - and abhor - the moments between the life and death of that love.

Now it's spring and renewal (and resurrection?) is in the air, so I'll tell you the good news: about four months ago, the first friend contacted me again, and we are gently, kindly, sweetly, talking again. Somehow the dead have risen. To my eyes, it is a miracle.

Enter stage left.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blogging at The Store

I was at the store (you know, The Store, that place that's quirky, friendly, and has lots of chocolate, which shall for my amusement remain nameless) and I met a sample server who we shall (again, for my amusement) call Sara.  Now, Sara loves her job, loves her employer, and is having a great time chopping up small bits of biscuit and jam for all of us hovering around. Someone is telling her that she should start her own blog about how much she loves her job and how cool it is to serve people samples.  So I take a photo for her nascent blog.

It turns out, though, that The Store does not I repeat *not* like their employees blogging about said store or any experience in said store, however love-filled they or it might be.

This got me thinking about companies and social media, as so many things do. There seems to be no middle ground.  Either the company says "thou shalt not blog" or they say "go forth and blog!"  The Store says don't. But other companies, including (but not limited to) the Nominal Evil Empire (nominal because there are other evil empires, including the one that says don't be, but this one has the cool logo) says "go and blog!" (They do, check it out.)

But hark: their instructions are something like "be careful, because if you mess up we will screw your ass to the floor so hard you won't remember what it ever felt like to stand up."  Okay, I made up that last part, but you get the idea.

So what should corporations do about social media?

You know what fabulous cats and great tango dancers have in common? They make a graceful movement out of every misstep. Not the right direction? Got an oops? No problem. That's what I meant to do all along.

What corporations should do about social media: clear and simple guidelines and a really excellent cat. Guarantee employees no retaliation as long as they follow the guidelines, give them a reason to blog, and open the windows and let the light in.  If someone stumbles, well, that's what you've got the cat, or spin-Meister for, to clear things up. Any corporation worried about having the windows opened has someone who can write that well on staff already. Just get them watching the social media output. (And imagine what they'll learn about their own company.)

In the end, a corporation's brand is its public image. It's Sara, standing there grinning, offering little samples of biscuits and jam, with people like me mulling around munching and chatting, feeling - for just a moment - like community, right there in the village market.

Hey, The Store: If Sara wants to blog about how cool it is to work for you, you should let her. Think of it as samples of transparency, the sort of thing that makes a company truly beloved.

Besides samples of food. Yum.

Friday, April 9, 2010

My stories, your skill, whataya say?

So I get this email that begins:

"Your [sic] a published writer, I am not.. I have many Sci-Fi stories (raw) and was wondering if you would ever consider a collaboration of sorts, (ex: my stories-your skill, or any combo)"

I have to re-read it, pause, consider.  Isn't this the classic writer joke?  I look for signs of humor in the letter, find none.

So easy to answer, but so hard to answer well. If you want to be, say, kind and considerate, what do you say?

My friend Kate says it reads like a Nigerian scam. "Honored Ms. Lyris, I am in possession of some stories and would appreciate your help getting them to see the light of day..." Except, of course, her use of language is better than either the scam artists' (is it really art?) or my correspondent's.

So I answer straight, simple, respectful.  Suggest he write his own stories. He writes back, grateful for my reply. Asks me to keep his offer in mind.

All rightie then.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Funny as in both

I had to tell it aloud to see if it was, and it was. Both.

I get this call on the old area code, which is significant enough to pick up right away.


A male voice I don't recognize.  "This is Joe."

"Hello," I say.

There's a pause.  "Is this -- " he rattles off my number, minus area code.

"It sure is," I say brightly.

Another pause.

"Ah, well. Misdialed. Sorry."  Click.

It's been like that these days.  Funny strange and funny ha-ha too.  Like this, not quite believable. Too strange to be fiction. This time, though, worth the words.  Even I was amused.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Unexpected

Amidst the storm and wind and cold and disintigrations, a minor miracle: she lets me cat-bathe her - appropriate, she being a cat - and doesn't run away. She even seems content. Purrs.

Endings. Beginnings. Surprise.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Mustard

So I'm on day three?  Four?  Of an unholy exhaustion backed by stunning headaches.  The world is challenging, and by that I mean just walking from one room to the next, nevermind navigating the challenges of human agendas, re-evaluations, meetings, and word choices.

I drag myself to the store anyway because I need something. I'm not sure what exactly, but it's important so I wander the aisles, sure I'll remember if I see it.  So I get some cheese (because, you know, my life is cheese) and some plastic bags (becasue, you know, uhm) and somehow I'm standing there in front of a display of mustards and this one looks pretty good, and I can't remember if we have mustard or not, and it's all sort of hard you know, and there we are, I'm stuck.

Stuck trying to decide if I should buy this mustard. Long moments go by, and yes, I realize I'm stuck, and that it's not a good use of my time and I'm not really having that much fun, but if I walk away without a decision, I'll have really wasted my time, and besides, hell - do we need mustard?

Desperate, I channel the lizard. Says he: "so, is it worth three dollars and sixty nine cents to stop wondering about whether to buy the mustard?" I consider that and then I nod.  "Okay," he says. "Then buy the damned mustard."  A decision! I take the bottle and slog to the checkout, happy to spend three dollars and sixty nine cents to get free.

And - bonus! - we now have mustard.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It goes like this

Yesterday we cleaned the old place. I found old dreams floating in the air by the windows and caught up high against the wall in the corners.  I took a beat up sponge and wet it down with some simple green and I wiped them up.  I rinsed the sponge under some very hot water, and rung it out. The scalding felt good on my hands. Cleansing. I did it again and again, until the place was cleaner than I found it, all those dreams ago.

Friday, March 26, 2010


As my friend Ivy reminds me, every place you live has something to complain about and something to delight in. And here? It feels peaceful, quiet, sufficient. Perhaps that's just the contrast, but who can say, late, late on moving day, with tired and aching head?  The cats like it, and they are, after all, my little rulers, my little tyrants. When the cats are happy, so goes the neighborhood. The air is fresh, all my stuff is correctly held to floor with gravity, and for the moment I'm content.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This Too Shall Pass

I have grown attached to this place. I ache at this leaving. I love waking to see the trees out the great expanse of my windows.  I even like being woken up in the middle of the night by the full moon in my face.

Yes, there's the road noise, which I thought would bother me more, but I learned to tune that out while still being in love with the green outside.

But it's not mine. I leave because it's not mine. Even if I owned the house, it wouldn't really truly be mine, it would just be - less someone else's. Maybe I wouldn't have to move if it were mine, but I would also have to take on all the responsibilities of ownership, costly responsibilities that I know too well, that I can't now afford. If I owned it. Which I don't.

It's so easy for me to think of the place I live as somehow defining me.  But we own so little, really.  Not even our bodies, which maybe we have on indeterminate lease, but surely don't own.  And if we don't own those, we sure don't own our houses, no matter what the laws like to say.

And so I pack the last of the boxes in full view of the cats who watch  curiously, ignorant of how this will soon ruin their world, their ownership. I can remember them howling in the car during the last move and for hours during the move before that, furious feline outrage at this intolerable upset.

I understand. I want to howl, too.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cherry Blossom Fall, Part II

I had a friend take me out for ice cream. What else do you do when your ride's been pinched? Good stuff, this gelato place. Especially the salted caramel.

So coming back, there it was, parked along the street. Under some cherry blossoms. My bike. Minor damage to the ignition panel.  Gas level about the same.  Seems to run fine.

My best guess is that they started it up, drove it a block, realized it only looked like a powerful bike,  and then thoughtfully parked it near by.

Not an entirely bad day after all: ice cream, my bike back, and Cherry Blossoms, still falling.

Cherry Blossom Fall

It's the time of year to write about the blossoms, how full and lush, and lovely their fall. How they remind us of the changing of the seasons, of the delicate beauty that is spring.

This morning someone stole my bike. Just - took it.

Last time I moved residences, the car was hit and run the week before. This time it's the bike.

Just - gone.

Yes, it's damned unfair. Yes, I called the cops. No, they haven't found it yet.

And it's the weather for riding, too. Beautiful, lovely.

Cherry blossoms fall. No bike. Damn.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday Morning, Well Fed

I'm still digesting, because it was a big, big meal. Metaphorically, of course. Got back last night from this thing called "BootCamp", which is, at essence, a training to make teams more productive. Not just more productive, but a lot more productive. You know, great. Make great products. Do great things.

Are you making a face, thinking that I can't tell? Ha. Or is your faith in me so great that you're giving me the benefit of the doubt? Ha. I was making that same face in my head for about the first half of BootCamp. Then I started getting a sense for what they meant by "great". When I saw it happen in front of me, with me, I lost nearly all of my cynicism. (You have to keep some. Spices up the food.)

BootCamp brings to mind, for me, really hard work. You know, metaphorical push-ups. Some really intense group-work, at least. But no, the first thing we were encouraged to do was get clear on what we wanted. What we wanted? What does that have to do with team building? With productivity? Isn't this about what the organization needs out of the team?

Not, apparently, if you want great work. First the members have to get clarity on what they want and see how they can get it. Then they have to know that their teammates know what they want and will help them get it. That, it turns out, is hard (and slightly terrifying) work, not well-supported by our corporate culture.

It's also annoying. Once you commit to being present, to engaging fully, you care. And down the road of caring is conflict with other annoying humans who don't see things the way you do. Conflict, it turns out, is a good thing, if you handle it right.

What does management typically say? Get back to your (mind-numbing and uninspiring) work. Do what you want on your own time. And if you want fabulous work out of your team? Pay them more. Incentivize. But that just doesn't work.

And what if you want the team to be not just better, but really fabulous? In his post about his own experiences at BootCamp, Adam Feuer (my reason for being there), says: "And while we're at it, let's not just get a merely 'better' team. Let's go for great – a team that is 10x better than the average team. What does a team like that look like?"

I got to see something like that, in my three-day training. How did we get there? The recipe (which changes with each BootCamp) is something like this: Get each person to agree to be present. Ask them what they want and get them on the road to getting it. Have them use some interpersonal protocols to make communication cleaner and action more effective. Then ask the team to do something better and faster than they've ever done before.

I would not have guessed that this would work. But I saw it work. A bit past my ego and fears, I saw something odd and delicious: a team that came up with something brilliant, fast, on-time, that matched the needs of management.

And I got to feel it.

I'm still digesting. But one of the tastiest bits was to discover how limited is my understanding of how long it takes to get quality work out of a suitably motivated team. And if that's wrong in a team, maybe it's wrong for me personally, too.


Must digest more.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Good work, if you can get it

The other night I dreamt that I had my bike stolen, my important paper files were somewhere not in evidence, and I held in my hand an acceptance letter for a novel I didn't remember writing.

I was at a reading for this very novel, with lots of people sitting around with chocolate and fruit, smiling encouragingly at me. I was glancing at the opening paragraph, trying to remind myself of the story.

Something similar has happened to me before, in small ways, coming across a story I've written, not quite remembering having written it until I get into it. Or I'll remember some scene or nifty dialog, try to remember where I read it, and then realize that I wrote it.

But a whole book? Kind of cool. I thought so in the dream, too. I was looking forward to the reading, to find out what I'd written that was so good someone had bought it. Apparently it had something to do with glass, since there was a picture of drinking glasses on the front cover. (I was just packing in the kitchen the other day.)

A nice dream, even with the stolen bike and missing files. Reading a freshly sold novel aloud is a wonderful feeling, even if you can't quite remember writing it. Good work if you can get it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cold. On Bike.

I was riding the motor bike today, and it was cold, oh very very cold. "Short spring this year" someone said, and I laughed. There was sun, but it was cold. Then it snowed. And hailed.

Every time I get on the bike I am reminded how easy it is to kill myself by being stupid. Just one extra rev, a poorly thought out turn, my balance wrong, a driver turning left without looking, and I am rag-doll splatter.

But I get on anyway, helmet, jacket and gloves, and do that thing that I do. Why? Because, well. I don't quite know. It feels right. Maybe because it reminds me how easy it is to die. On the bike, or not.

Life. Death. Snow and hail.

And sun. Don't forget the sun.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Purring Commas

I get those happy, yummy feelings when my cats are curled up together on the bed, like purring commas.

"Careful," a friend says. "You don't want to end up that crazy old woman at the end of the block with the big house full of cats."

Ha ha ha. Of course not.

Well, wait. Why not? A house full of cats? That's cool. As long as you can have some kittens once in a while, too.

That's how you get a house full of cats, see, by bringing in kittens. Just once in a while.

Kittens are a strong, strong juju. When I get a kitten, within months I've had all the kitten juice I need for oh years to come. Of course, the kitten still has juice. Plenty. That's where the parental love thing comes in. You love them SO much that you don't... don't!... rip their darling little heads off when they bounce across the bed at 3am, 4am, and 5am, chasing specs of dust raised by your breath as you sleep. Slept.

And in time they grow up, mellowing oh so slowly. Eventually they settle down and sleep the night through. Together, if you're lucky, curled up, pettable and purring, giving you that yummy awww feeling that only comes after you're years past the will-not-rip-head-off-kitten phase. The love only a real cat person knows. The person who becomes that crazy old woman with the cats.

Purring commas. Awww.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The best part about moving is the dream that afterwards, on the other side, Life Will Be Better. The house will be better, neighborhood will be better, the neighbors will be better. Joy and happiness will ooze in from everywhere, and all we need do to get there is put it all in boxes and rent a truck.

Yes, my friends, on the other side, all will be well.

It's a lovely dream, and it really is the best thing about moving. There isn't much else.

Oh, some people will tell you that it's good to get rid of your stuff as you go through the hell of packing it up, the stuff that you don't really need, that disgusts you to realize you still have. And that's all true, but this would be my third move in two years, and that's a lot of stuff already well and long gone. I mean, yeah, I did that.

See, my stuff used to reside in four buildings. It had lots of legroom. To be fair, one of the buildings was a barn, and the stuff I had that lived there didn't end up coming with me even on the first move.

Stuff. Carlin was right, and so was Tyler Durden in Fight Club. All these things that I'm packing have me real good. Maybe humans are just stuff's way of getting around.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pro Forma Indulgeo

I don't really know any Latin, but I'm hoping that using some will make me sound erudite as I do this blog thing that I have been resisting for ohhh-sooo many years.

Bet that's been done.

(You know, there's a good case to be made that I was part of creating one of the first blogs and blogging software. We were writing a web site for a radio station in Portland Oregon in what was it, '95? and they wanted their DJs to be able to, you know, write stuff about what they were thinking. It just wasn't that hard, so we wrote the code to let them type into a text window and publish it with a date and time stamp, and there we were. We didn't call it anything. We just did it.)

I don't know. The lizard tells me I'm funny and I should blog. Of course, he says a lot of things and not all of them seem to be about this universe. But he does make me laugh, and there has to be some truth in humor, since there's certainly humor in truth.

My biggest problem with this blogging thing is that I write too good. Since I write good, the finished product has to look like I write good. So I spend too much time working it over. Too much polish.

Hey, do you remember that commericial for lemmon pledge where they spray on the pledge until it's an inch or so thick, with the voice over saying "week after week you polish your furniture until - you're polishing the polish!" In those days, commercials didn't seem to be using self-mocking irony to sell, but then, I was a kid, so maybe I just didn't notice it. Maybe it was supposed to be funny.

Anyway. Polishing the polish. Mabye that would have been a better name for this blog. Can I still change it?

In the spirit of the title, I should say something here about please indulge me with this blog, and I don't really know what I'm talking about, I'm just going to tell you my thoughts however flawed, or some other crap about how it's just words, to maybe lower your expectations.

I don't think so.

Who are you anyway? Why are you reading me? Don't just sit there in silence. Say something. Tell me something.