When part A doesn’t fit into Slot B

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

To continue my work on ThreadNeedle, I needed to update my server’s Berkeley DB installation to take full advantage of the persistent features of the Redland RDF Application Framework. Since Berkeley DB is also used with our Movable Type installations, I felt it was only prudent to upgrade the weblogs on my server to using the MySql database system so they wouldn’t be impacted by any of my tinkering.

Burningbird and my other MT-based pages upgraded to MySql without a problem, but the conversion of Stavros’ weblog was less than successful, resulting in re-build errors and missing functionality (the Recent Conversations comments feature). According to Movable Type Ben, what most likely happened is that the version of MySql on my server can’t support the complex functionality used for this particular feature.

What to do, what to do. If I don’t upgrade MySql, Stavro’s weblog will either remain in its semi-broken state or he’ll have to back out his upgrade, and return to using Berkeley DB (leaving his weblog a bit vulnerable to my ThreadNeedle efforts, and that’s a lousy thing to do to my favorite Canuckian). But if I do upgrade MySql, I’ll most likely break other applications using the database system. As it is, I’ve already broken the Post Content prototype application, used to manage my moved and missing web pages, when I installed Redland and overwrote the Perl libraries used with it.

And to add the element of irony necessary for any good story, the Redland Framework isn’t working, either.

The software development process is an act of creativity. We have an idea, we conceive the final form, and we use the tools at hand to to bring this conception to life. The software that results from the development process is no less a thing of beauty than a dramatic photograph, a well written phrase, or a lively tune – for all of the software’s perceived useful rather than aesthetic nature.

Sometimes, though, there are impediments to creativity, and this is no less true with software development than it is for other forms of expression such as writing or photography. A case of part A not fitting into slot B. When this happens all that creative momentum hits the limitations and constraints and compresses in on itself until it resembles, at best, a misshapen accordian that plays only to a middle range of mediocrity.

Mark Pilgrim understands this, which is why he created the series, 30 days to a more accessible weblog, including the most recent entry Using horizontal rules. Ostensibly the tips from the series will help us create more accessible weblogs; in reality, Mark is showing us how to blast apart the limitations inherent with web pages and let the creativity of our weblogs flow unhindered.

(Most likely Mark would also tell me that ThreadNeedle’s current technical limitations would be eliminated if I just went with a Python solution.)

Jeff Ward understands this, which is why he put up a static page of thumbnail sketches of Invisible Light, his fascinating, disquieting photo essay based on images captured from various bars in Southern California. The thumbnails are the quick peeks, the fast throughs, the tip of the hat in compliance to those who travel from web site to web site in a race to see how many they can gulp at a time. And once the sop to those who live in a perpetual state of brain freeze is tindered, Jeff then creates a wonderous show for those viewers willing to spend the time to await the results, slow modem be damned.

Jonathon understands this when he spends hours investigating techniques that will allow his readers to resize the text in his weblog. What matters the time and effort expended on carefully crafting stories and tales, thoughts and opinions, if his reader can’t appreciate the effort because the text doesn’t render correctly in their browser, or is too small to read? Works of creativity aren’t complete until they’re consumed.

And I understand this. Which is why you all have to excuse me as I return to figuring out how to put part A into slot B with ThreadNeedle.

Anyone have a hammer I can use?

Just Shelley

On being a sensualist

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The world that lieth in wickedness, the sensualist, has no taste nor relish for that bread which cometh down from God out of heaven, and nourisheth the soul up unto eternal life.

Thomas Lechtworth, They that wait upon the Lord

Roget’s Thesaurus defines a sensualist as a person devoted to pleasure and luxury, a hedonist or sybarite. Merriam-Webster defines the sensualist as a person in “…persistent or excessive pursuit of sensual pleasures and interests.”

Weighed down with this association to addiction of earthly delights, the sensualist has been cast as the wanton, the wicked, and the antithesis of both the intellectual and the spiritual throughout history.

Eyes and fingers speak in its favor, visual evidence and palpableness do, too: this strikes an age with fundamentally plebian tastes as fascinating, persuasive, and convincing – after all, it follows instinctively the canon of truth of eternally popular sensualism.

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Small wonder that I’ve spent most of my life trying to deny my own sensualist nature; first wearing the misty face of the spiritualist, and later donning a mask showing the placid wisdom of the intellectual. It’s only been recently that I’ve stripped away all such self-doubting foolishness, and have felt confident enough, or perhaps indifferent enough, to show myself.

The populace think that your rejection of popular standards is a rejection of all standards, and mere antinomianism; and the bold sensualist will use the name of philosophy to gild his crimes. But the law of consciousness abides.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being a sensualist doesn’t mean I run into the street, tackling every man I see – a modern day succubus. With laptop.

Nor does this mean that I am not capable of intellectual pursuits or appreciation of same. And if my spirituality is tempered, it is more so by the intellectual aspect of my personality rather than that part of me that is sensual.

Being a sensualist just means that I’m highly attuned to and very aware of my senses, to the point of defying conventional behavior at times.

Helen woke up in the middle of the night wearing someone else’s breasts. Not her own insignificant, almost non-existent bumps, but huge, pendulous, full ones. Breasts whose only master was gravity, whose creases ached in bands across her ribs, whose weight cascaded irrepressibly onto her lap. Breasts that could round shoulders and cave in chests. “Damn,” she murmured to herself, “it’s begun,” and then went back to sleep.

Barbara Hodgson, The Sensualist

I will stop to listen to a bird, or alter my course to follow an intriguing smell. I hesitantly place a hand on shoulder or arm when in conversation with another – being aware of the possibility of giving offense with said action.

I love sparkly sidewalks.


i love sidewalks that are all sparkly. i can’t imagine why a city would not get sparkly sidewalks. the sidewalk company says, “ok, 50 new sidewalks…. you want sparkles with that?” and the city says, “nah, we’ll take the ones with black, dried up chewing gum on them, instead.”

eggstone 2000

Being a sensualist also does not make me a sentimentalist. As much as I appreciate subtle and complex emotional interplay there is nothing I abhor more than maudlin, contrived sentimentality.

The movie Titanic would have been best served by sinking the ship in the first ten minutes, and taking the Bridges of Madison County with it. Debbie Boone singing “You light up my life” or Helen Reddy’s “I don’t know how to love him” generate an almost overwhelming revulsion in me. Yet the Andrew Sisters World War II classic, I’ll be with you in apple blossom time never fails to move me.

Yeah, okay, fine – and I did cry when I watched Old Yeller.

As for writing, there is some writing that is so sensual and that invokes such strong mental imagery that I have to put the material down; there is no room left within my mind for processing the letters into words and the words into sentences.

Just Shelley


In the shallows, in soft, soft sand, you can stand very still and 
the little fishies will nibble at your toes.

In the shallows, in soft, soft sand, you can look down through clear, 
clear water and be master of all you see.

In the shallows, in soft, soft sand, you can laugh at tiny ripples of 
water lapping ineffectually at your ankles.

In the shallows, in soft, soft sand, you are God.

Until a big goddamn wave comes along and sucks you in, and you’re pushed here and there at the mercy of energies beyond your control with Big Fishies wanting to do more than nibble at your toes in water that’s murky and dark, and you think to yourself, “Holy shit! What just happened!?!”, as your only hope is to ride along, follow the current and stay afloat, looking for an escape…

...back to the shallows, and the soft, soft sand.