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On the latest trip back to Michigan [05 Jul 2003|04:09am]
Overall, it went smoothly. I prefer going the "northern route", via the Upper Peninsula, now, as it's a more relaxing drive than going via Chicago. And crossing over the Great Lake from the U.P. at the Mackinac Bridge is always visually and technologically impressive, driving high above the blue water on a suspension bridge that is a model for what the "older" technology of Mechanical Engineering can accomplish.

Sister Jen and her fiancee Tom are doing well, as I'm happy to see. Certainly Jen has had enough trials in recent years that I'm glad to see things are finally going her way. And now that they are the keepers of my (former) cat Odin, I was happy to see him as well. Cats seem to take longer to recognize someone after an absence than dogs; it took several hours before Odin returned to the behavior I was used to from him, purring and hanging around me and that charming habit of burying his head in the space between my shoulder and neck when I am going to sleep.

This trip also saw the completion of my most pressing reason for returning to Michigan at this time, the sale of the cabin. Though it feels like a loss in a sense to have let the place go to another owner, as I recall many fond times being there, it's large-log-cabin-ish structure sitting welcomingly off the shore of Lake St. Helen, it was a necessity to let it go. As Jen and I bought it together, for me it was a large monthly expense (in an economic downturn) for a place I rarely ever was able to spend any significant amount of time at, and for her, a very burdensome cost despite her proximity to it. I recognize that other family members may have strong feelings about the place as well, and history there, and in that respect, at this point, I only ask they consider the situation from Jen's and my perspective and the long time frame during which this decision was made, and the discussions in that time looking for another alternative to "keep it in the family".

In all, the cabin was (and is) a very special place. Perhaps I'll devote a post of its own to memories of and thoughts about the cabin, when I'm properly inspired to do so.

Visiting Rob and Carrie near Traverse City was very nice as well. Unfortunately I was quite pressed for time so could only spend one evening there, and at the hour I arrived their kids had already gone to bed, so I didn't get to see Janie or Casey, who are *most* charming. Rob graciously stayed up late and we had another of our fun conversations ranging from code to business to Experiments of Dubious Probability of Success. Rob's acute sense of humor, I'm pleased to report, has dulled none over the last 17 years or so, since I met him in college in Traverse.

At 5 AM the next morning, it was time to get up to head to Ludington. With a Rob-provided enormous cup of coffee, I headed out toward my early departure time. I had decided to try taking the ferry across the Lake this return trip, to save considerably on driving time. Without Lake Michigan inconveniently putting its share of the Great Lakes' 94000 square miles of water directly in my path between Minnesota and mid-Michigan, the drive would go much faster. So, for the first time in a 20-or-so trips back since moving to Michigan 6 years ago, I ponied up the money for a car ferry. I was rather unenthusiastic about it in the past, since the transit time over water doesn't save much time on the net travel time, but the time saved behind-the-wheel is easily worth it. Especially if you pay the extra cash for a room on the boat, which gives you a small bed, your own little bathroom-thing, and blessed privacy. As I slept maybe and hour and a half the night before, this was much appreciated. Seasickness was not a concern at all either, with the size of the boat and speed (and I imagine the relatively low position of the quarters) there was no swaying detectable at all, a low vibration was all I perceived. Traveling this way is nice, apparently some people just choose to go across the Lake without the need to get a car across, as they charge for "you" and "your vehicle" separately, and there are a bunch of diversions provided on the ship, from movies to bingo to singers to a bar to a mini-nautical-museum to lounging on the deck in the sunlight. Being used to the smaller visual aperture of a computer screen or a television or a car window for most of my interesting visual experiences, it is noteworthy how being on a ship, looking around at 360 degrees of Lake Michigan, puts even iMax to shame. Undoubtedly one of the appealing things to the Vikings in pursuing their lifestyle.

On the final leg of the trip, driving, I had the sad experience of seeing a deer killed by an 18-wheeler. The semi was directly ahead of me on I-94, some 50 feet perhaps, when a deer darted across the freeway, misjudging the speeds involved and running to try to get past the onrushing vehicle. With an unmistakable short, sharp snapping sound, the grille of the semi hit it, and undoubtely killed it instantly as I passed it lying on it's side, along the side of the road. A few minutes later, I passed the semi, and looked into my rear-view-mirror to see the grille substantially caved in. Deer are beautiful animals, the chromed grille so aesthetically inferior in the context, though naturally man's steel will win against nature's flesh every time in such a "contest".

And now, I am back in my new "home" state, working and living, though trips back to Michigan will undoubtedly be a mainstay in my future.

[Hopefully first-names-only anonymizes everything to everyone mentioned's satisfaction, if not, tell me guys...]
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Yes, they started the Internet, but *still*... [04 Jul 2003|11:36pm]
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I'm falling... [04 Jul 2003|11:35pm]
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Independence Day once again [04 Jul 2003|09:25pm]
[ mood | lazy ]

Let freedom ring.

As I haven't heard back from Bryant and Karen as to what their plans are tonight, I think I'll spend the night at home, catching up on the journal and work. Struggling against the traffic for a decent viewing location doesn't sound all the appealing atm.

Still haven't logged anything from my trip back to Michigan a couple weeks back, so I think I'll follow with thoughts on that.

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Should be required reading for techies and their managers [02 Jul 2003|05:17pm]
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Back [23 Jun 2003|04:16pm]
Back in Minnesota. More to follow.
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Thomas Jefferson on "Intellectual Property" [18 Jun 2003|06:57am]
"It has been pretended by some, (and in England especially,) that inventors have a natural and exclusive right to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but inheritable to their heirs. But while it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all, it would be singular to admit a natural and even an hereditary right to inventors. It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, belongs to all men equally and in common, is the property for the moment of him who occupies it, but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices."

"Considering the exclusive right to invention as given not of natural right, but for the benefit of society, I know well the difficulty of drawing a line between the things which are worth to the public the embarrassment of an exclusive patent, and those which are not. As a member of the patent board for several years, while the law authorized a board to grant or refuse patents, I saw with what slow progress a system of general rules could be matured."

-- Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson, 13 Aug. 1813
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Linux now Linus' day job [17 Jun 2003|05:04pm]
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Apple: Worse games, better writers? [17 Jun 2003|04:10am]
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Mead of Poetry [16 Jun 2003|11:37pm]

"Whence did this art, which ye call poetry, derive its beginnings?"

Such asked Aegir, and Bragi explained:

These were the beginnings thereof. There was a war between the gods of the Aesir and the Vanir--

For strife between those who are deemed wise and powerful and independent,
and the primal forces of nature, continues endlessly, even today...

--and they appointed a meeting of peace between them, and to seal the peace treaty they spat into a vat. Not wishing their symbolic act to perish, they formed a man from this, and his name was Kvasir. He possessed such knowledge that none could question him with anything for which he did not know the answer.

Perhaps... "What other visions did Odin see as he hanged from Yggdrasil, before the runes?"
"Are the spinnings of fate which are the Norns' unchangeable,
or may our will and troth reweave them to other destinies?"
"Are there more branches in the World Tree than the ideas of mankind in Midgard?"

Kvasir wandered the earth, to give instruction to men. He was invited into the abode of two dwarves, Fjalar and Galarr. Completing their plot, they killed him, draining his blood into two vats and a kettle. They mixed honey with the blood, making the mead which has the virtue of making anyone drinking from it a poet or scholar. In explanation, they informed the Aesir that Kvasir had choked on his own wisdom, when finding no one who could reach his insight.

Now, many of the dwarves we highly valued by Odin and the other Aesir,
for their great skills of craftmanship,
having created such works as Freya's necklace Brisingamen,
and Thor's hammer Mjollnir;
but these dwarves were vicious,
and were soon confronted
by the wrath resulting from another of their crimes...

The giant Suttungr, enraged by Fjalar and Galarr's murder of his father Gillingr and his mother, took the dwarves out to sea, setting them on a reef which would be covered at high tide. The dwarves entreated Suttungr to spare them, offering him for reconciliation the precious mead they had obtained. Suttungr brought the mead to his home and concealed it in a place called Hnitbjorg, asking his daughter Gunnlod to guard it.

From this come the kennings
"Kvasir's Blood"
"Dwarves' Drink" and
"Ferryboat of the Dwarves"
for "poetry"...

"These seem to me to be dark sayings, to call poetry by these names. But how did the Aesir receive Suttungr's mead?"

Asked Aegir again, and Bragi continued:

Odin left his home and traveled to a certain place where nine thralls were working mowing hay. He asked if any of them wished him to sharpen their scythes, and all agreed. Odin then took a hone from his belt, sharpening their scythes greatly. So impressed were they by how well their scythes now cut the harvest, they asked insistently that he sell the hone to them. Odin told them he would only sell it at a very considerable price, but they agreed and persisted. He then tossed the hone into the air, and the thralls scrambled for it with such desire that they mortally wounded each other with their scythes.

Odin then sought a night's lodging with the dead thralls' master, Baugi, who was Suttungr's brother. Baugi despaired for his efforts, having found his workers had killed each other, declaring all workers hopeless. To disguise himself, Odin called himself Bolverkr in Baugi's presence, and offered to undertake the work of all nine thralls. In return, however, he demanded as wages one drink of Suttungr's mead.

Baugi answered that he had no control whatsoever of the mead, that Suttungr insisted on having it entirely to himself, but assented to go with Bolverkr (Odin) to try to get the mead. Odin completed the tasks of the nine workmen over the summer, and as winter arrived he asked for the pay which was promised.

They traveled to Suttungr's home, and when Baugi told his brother of the bargain, Suttungr refused to share even a drop of his beloved mead. Bolverkr suggested to Baugi they might be able to get the mead by trickery, and Baugi readily agreed.

Odin produced an auger called Rati, asking Baugi to bore through the rock barring them from the cache of mead, and when the hole was bored through, Odin transformed himself into a snake and slithered through the opening. Baugi, believing himself deceived, thrust the auger after Odin through the hole, but missed.

Odin continued to where Gunnlod was at watch guarding the mead, and slept with her for three nights, after which she consented to give him three swallows of the precious drink. Odin drained the entire cache with three massive swallows, transforming to an eagle for the escape back to Asgard.

Odin now gives the mead of Suttungr to the Aesir, to the Valkyries for reviving dead heroes upon their arrival in Valhalla, and to all who have the ability to compose.

And so from Odin,
whose own name means
something between "madness" and "fury",
came poetry and more kennings for it,
Odin's Booty and Find,
his Drink and Gift,
the Drink of the Aesir.

(Paraphrased from Snorri's Prose Edda, with additional writer's commentary drawing from Norse mythology)

[This writeup can be found with appropriate linkage where I originally wrote it, here: http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1467258]
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From the Notes-To-Self Dept. [16 Jun 2003|06:24pm]
Time to ramp up and get things done for the trip back to Michigan at the end of the week.

- Clean
- Message Rob, Ben that I'm going to be back in town, briefly
- Call on remaining biz followups
- Code like a madman
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Ode To Cheap Mass-Advertising Utilitarian Objects [15 Jun 2003|11:35pm]
I look upon my plastic Matrix Reloaded movie-theater 44-oz mega-cup, and I must admit, self-consciously, that it somehow moves me.

Consider, not only is it interesting to look at, but, given that it exists as a advertisement for that blockbuster-budgeted flick, the advertising pays easily for the manufacture of the cup. An entire chain of inventive, industrial, and technological wonders has been employed to provide me with this esthetically-pleasing and capacious vessel from which I can now sip cold water as I happily surf the internet. And all this is, essentially, free.

As an aside, it also serves as a pleasant reminder of a very nice evening spent with former co-workers, in the skybooth of a nearby theater, on the opening night of this very movie.

And... don't get me started on... trade-show t-shirts...
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Written by me, back when it was still topical and more amusing [15 Jun 2003|11:03pm]

(Riters, April 5, 2003)

Due to heavy Iraqi military losses against Coalition forces, in conjunction with the Iraqi regime's continuing efforts toward securing their leader, U.S. intelligence sources now estimate that "approximately half" of Iraq's military consists of Saddams.

In a somewhat daunting implementation of the Iraqi Information Ministry's ominous assertion that "something unconventional" would be employed against Coalition troops, a heavily-armed horde of Saddams poured out of Baghdad and began engaging Coalition troops at the Saddam (Baghdad) International Airport and surrounding areas.

"Targeting has been somewhat problematic" admitted Capt. Michael Richardson, interviewed under fire originating from a platoon of identically-mustached assailants. The interview unfortunately had to be cut short, due to the need to take cover and the disruption of loud shouting of Coalition troops, yelling orders which were mostly variants of "No, no! Target *that* Saddam!"

Formal protests were immediately lodged with the U.N. by the U.S., arguing that the military utilization of mass Saddams constituted a prohibited use of biological weaponry. The U.S. representative pursuasively argued that the Saddams fit the Geneva Convention definition of a biological weapon, i.e., "A living, self-replicating organism which results in the indiscriminate illness or death of human beings upon contact."

"We always knew Saddam was concealing biological weapons. Now it has become apparent Saddam *is* a biological weapon" amplified Donald Rumsfeld in his most recent press briefing.

An anonymous Coalition officer admitted concern about this new type of "force multiplier" becoming a significant factor in the events unfolding in Iraq. "We now have Saddam simultaneously directing covert operations against the Kurds, generating vast amounts of propaganda, 'managing' the 'Iraqi assets' in Swiss bank accounts, igniting oil wells, pursuading pregnant women to serve as 'Allah's Holy Exploding Mommies,' as well as personally manning the majority of Iraq's remaining military vehicles and small arms" he explained.

Consternation was expressed by Secretary of State Colin Powell as well, in connection with the expected formation of a democratic goverment in Iraq. "We are concerned about the possible viability of a recently uncovered Iraqi war plan, in which Saddam proposes to his close advisors that if democracy is imposed, he will personally be the majority needed to reelect himself."

A captured non-Saddam Iraqi soldier clearly had his morale bolstered by the ubiquitous presence of his leader, expressing triumphantly over the pain generated by attempting to destroy a M1-A1 Abrams tank with a large bucket of glue, "My great leader has been here with me all day. He is there with everyone all day. Praise Allah, long live Saddam, all of hims."
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Quotes 'n' Notes [15 Jun 2003|11:01pm]
Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent. --Ludwig Wittgenstein
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[15 Jun 2003|04:35pm]
Shapeshifter... lovely desktop background. http://www.deviantart.com/view/2159688
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[15 Jun 2003|12:42pm]
The Italian Job last night was a fun movie. Smoothly entertaining.
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[15 Jun 2003|12:38pm]
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[15 Jun 2003|12:35pm]
Awake... MailWasher dutifully cleans my inbox of spam as I wait for the ephedra and St. John's Wort to ease my transition to full consciousness. CNN runs a segment on "cyberbegging"...
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[15 Jun 2003|05:05am]
Chat log snippets, anonymized:

[me]: Yes... absurd. Now the latest thing apparently is for pressure groups to get academically-used texts to change all reference to words like "fireman", "cowboy", etc. So says CNN.
[them]: (Would you want to go see a movie called "Midnight Cowhandler", for crying out loud?!)
[me]: Yes... it's ridiculous. There are plenty of reasons a writer might use "cowboy", even in a gender-neural form, and to change this is Needlessly F*cking With Things.
[me]: I got into a really uneconomically-wise thing here... I'm paying $200/mo for uber-storage.
[me]: Heated, security cams, drive-up access, but really not worth it at all.
[me]: They've got like a timer that if a security code is punched in, and that person doesn't open their unit in a half-hour, the alarms go off. Some German company owns this, no doubt.
[me]: Can you live in a unit? I wonder if that's owner-determined or a matter of law.
[them]: I'm pretty sure it's the law here... safety codes et al.
[me]: Ah... seems like they should allow it. If all you can afford is $50/$100 a month, i.e. you're quasi-homeless, it'd still be safer than being on the street.
[me]: *grin* Yes... even worse... it was funny, that AOL's consternation at being asked in congress, after touting what his company is doing to eliminate spam, being unable to answer whether his company spams it's users, given that they clearly do.
[them]: My mother saved me every last disc they sent her, in the mail... every couple months I had to explain to her--AGAIN--why they made good coasters, but not much else.
[me]: Coasters and landfill. Which we'll be getting a lot more of if that new self-destructing DVD tech becomes standard.
[them]: This is an amalgam of my mother's and brother's recipes, with some tweaks... and it adapts extremely well to veggie.
[me]: wishes he could remember the hard-core chili reviewer article.
[them]: I started over a couple years ago, basing it on tomato soup instead of tomato sauce/juice, but haven't done it that way in awhile... I try to stick to the way folks're used to.
[me]: A guy at one of my clients was really into spices... I asked him what the hottest thing he ever tried was, and he replied, without blinking, "Pepper spray".
[me]: Just an observation... it's hard to get traffic directed one's way, regardless of the quality of one's work. One advantage to posting to a site geared to specifically good writing.
[me]: Hmm... exchange "specifically" and "good" if you would.
[them]: I have done bios on iMDB for side-players (and a major or two)... so it's not like I write in a total vacuum, these days.
[them]: In theory, I could reado 'em with a dofferent word-flow... and they generally hack up what you write, to some degree, anyway. "Once he pees in it, he likes the flavor better, so he buys it."
[me]: I never really got into South Park... the talking feces was my first exposure.
[them]: Yeah, that's a bad place to start.
[me]: I hear raves from people about the movie, though, and I'll have to see that.
[me]: still occasionally shuts down hyperactive friends and acquaintances by addressing them as "Beavis"... when their behavior gets too analogous to Beavis' misadventures with sugar.
[me]: What happened with sugar, you mean?
[them]: Yeah.
[me]: Heh. Beavis ingests a candy bar or something at an aquaintance's house, then completely spazzes out and goes on a search-and-consume mission for *all* the sugar, in any form, in the household, growing more and more spastic and bizarre... eventually pulling his shirt partially over his head, wandering randomly and announcing "I am the great Cornholio! I need TP for my bunghole!"
[them]: Ohhhh... so *that's& where that came from!
[them]: "Sometimes your shallowness is so thorough, it's almost like depth." "Thanks!" --Daria and Quinn
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[15 Jun 2003|04:20am]
This space is going to be strictly for journaling for me, in general, with all the attendant randomness and half-baked thought of a journal. For examples of my "serious" writings, you'd be better off searching for "Empiric" on everything2.com.
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