Just Shelley

Mid-life special

Yesterday one of my errands took me to KMart, home of the infamous Blue Light special. The store was strangely empty for a Saturday afternoon, with few customers and fewer store employees.

I couldn’t find what I was looking for and pushed the button at one of the service stations to get help. As I waited I looked around at the empty aisles and the tacky blue lights and the huge sale signs in this cavernous building, when I was suddenly hit with the thought, “This isn’t where I’m supposed to be. This isn’t what I had planned for myself.”

The force of the feeling of complete alienation from my surroundings almost folded me over. When the service person came up, I managed to communicate what I wanted, follow her, have an intelligent conversation with her, but inside it was, “Get the hell out. Now. Run!”

However, I didn’t run, but calmly paid for my purchases and slowly walked out to the car. Closing myself in I turned on my air conditioning and my music, and sat and thought.

I thought back to being on the road, no longer living in San Francisco, but also not yet living in St. Louis. I remembered driving through the thunderstorm in Nevada, and the biker gang and the trucker in Utah, I think it was. And I remembered my last cross-country trip and getting pulled over for speeding on the Navaho Reservation, and the Dog with No Name in New Mexico.

I wanted to enter the freeway and just start driving, but I sat in that car with my music and my thoughts, cool air blowing on me, drying the sweat on my upper lip and lifting my hair away from my face. Finally, I put the car in gear and I drove to another store, where I bought grapes and bottled water and some Corona beer to go with taco fixings. You have to have Corona with tacos.


The Dog Days

Well, wasn’t I in a melancholy mood before retiring yesterday? I blame it on the dog days of August.

This time of year, the Dog Star–Sirius, in the constellation Canis Major–starts appearing in the sky just before dawn for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, after hiding behind the sun for most of the summer. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that it was Sirius in combination with the Sun that causes so much of the heat we feel at this time of year. Those crazy Greeks and Romans.

Regardless of how we got the term, these days are the worst of our summer and it shows. The Southern Hemisphere webloggers are just going to have to carry the rest of us for a week or two.



I really admire Doc for trying to find a middle ground between Larry Lessig and Dave Winer regardling Larry’s rather assertive and bold speech at Open Source.

I agree with Doc: we’re all on the side of angels, here. The important thing is that we all work towards something that’s important to each of us: Larry is fighting copyright restrictions and Dave’s fighting the Berman-Coble bill (by tring to get a Libertarian elected in North Carolina–no small task). It’s unfortunate when someone such as Josh Allen seeks an even wider split by highlighting the differences between Larry and Dave rather than any similarites. And while I may agree with Allen in his admiration of Tim O’Reilly’s article The Growing Politicization of Open Source, I disagree with him when he says:

How is it that the certain people have time to clone 30 year-old Unix utilities but not enough time to create really new things? How is it that certain people will politic so tirelessly to coerce California into using lousy software, while totally ignoring the individual liberty impacts of DMCA?

BTW, did I happen to mention that Josh Allen works for Microsoft? (Of course, in the interests of open disclosure and fairness, I must mention that I’m a co-author of the upcoming “Unix Power Tools 3rd edition” for O’Reilly. We all have our personal stakes in these conversations.)

I haven’t talked much about copyright laws in this weblog because this isn’t the fight I’ve picked. I think it’s a good fight, and I would contribute to the EFF if I had more money (sigh), but most of my political energy is focused on preventing a war in Iraq, and on stopping the current administration’s violations of the constitution. And if fighting these means voting for someone who might be for the Berman-Coble bill, so be it.

Confusing times when the angels you dance with one moment become devils the next. Why can’t everyone just agree with me. Life would be so much simpler.