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.


Neighborhood news

Frank has posted the first installment of the Mike Golby interview. Fitting Mike’s status as the blogger with the most…words, the final interview approaches 20,000 words. Thanks to Frank for splitting it up.


Recently, I’ve moved from a tight social circle where every blog entry I’ve read is reflected in my daily offering, across to clusters of newfound bloggers, and back again to individuals and groupings. Things change; people change. We float away, we come back. In recent weeks, I’ve been solitary, moving from writing intensely personal entries to giving ill-informed commentaries on current affairs. I’m exploring the boundaries of myself in this unknown space, not knowing what the hell is going on or what it or I am all about. I find it enormously exciting, invigorating, tough, rewarding, and addictive.

Gary continues his quest to get sued by major publications with his version of a famous financial magazine.

Yours truly is feeling the heat and the humidity and the work on the book. Want read weblog. Don’t want write weblog.

Just Shelley

Simple Love

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

A couple of days ago Jeneane wrote in a posting:

That problem being that too few of us understand what it means to love. Simply to love and to love simply.

I’m not married, nor do I have a boyfriend, but it seems to me that the simplest of loves–an uncomplicated love–can’t really occur between adults. We bring too many expectations, too much background and hidden baggage into our relationships with each other. We can love deeply, sincerely, painfully, honestly, hopefully, and joyfully, but I’m not sure we can love simply, at least in my understanding of simple love.

I think we see true simple love only from very young children and our pets. Both have such minimal expectations from us: food, shelter, warmth when it’s cold, coolness when it’s hot, tenderness and care in times of illness, fear, and pain. And they give so much–total and unconditional love.

I never had a child, but have always had pets, and currently have a ten year old cat named Zoe. As an example of what I see as simple love, a couple of weeks ago I received a cardboard box containing a couple of shirts. I opened it in the living room and left the box near the door. When I returned from taking the shirts upstairs, my cat, Zoe, had climbed into the box and curled up, a picture of perfect contentment.

I’ve bought expensive cat toys and carpet condos and a fleece lined bed for her, but she hasn’t liked anything as much as she’s liked this box. Everyday, she curls up in it for an hour or two, that time that she’s not spent curled up next to me, or playing with me, or entertaining me by looking out at the birds and “chatting” with them.

I’ve not the heart to throw the box out so now we have a cardboard box next to the wall at the bottom of our stairs. Simple things: a cardboard box for her, gentle head butts accompanied by copious purring and occasional washings for me.

Perhaps I’m complicating adult relationships too much, but I don’t know of many men who would be happy with a cardboard box (though I do know of a few that seem to like dishwashing tools).

Joking aside, I’m not sure what simple love would be like between adults, but it sounds like it would be nice, doesn’t it? Probably a lot like this.

(Speaking of pets, Flightless Farrago has provided the most humorous cat photo I’ve yet seen [scroll down page]. And two virtual neighbors just brought home new furry friends: Ryan and Jonathon. Lots of gentle head butts and much copious purring to you both.)