Just Shelley Places

Soft arcs of winter white

Recovered from the Wayback Machine. This is derived from trip notes recorded in paper journal

I started the trip to California under clear skies that lasted with me until Colorado. I arrived at Denver around sunset and the sky was beautiful, a blue-gold color that speckled the dark grey clouds gathering to the west, and gilded the green of the trees and the grass on the side of the road.

I stopped for the evening in Cheyenne, spending the night listening to the many trains blowing through town, each with its own distinctive whistle. I would begin to drift off when a whistle would blast, close by, startling me awake. I would listen, heart pounding as the whistle faded, the sound becoming softer, sadder as the train moved further away.

Leaving early the next morning, the snow started falling as soon as I left the city behind and entered the pass. The traffic, the few of us, a minivan, a small red car and myself, slowed, staying behind a couple of trucks that had downshifted for their trip down the mountain.

The driving was challenging but manageable, and the reduced speed allowed me to look about. I noticed ring-billed gulls, sea gulls really, next to the road. They lost much of their grace and speed under the onslaught of the cold snow and frozen rain, flapping hard to clear the land, rising awkwardly rather than with the sureness I had seen with gulls at the beach. They didn’t seem right there by the side of the road in a land locked state, chilled by the cold.

I was looking at one pair when out of the corner of my eye I caught an arc of white coming over the concrete divider between our lanes and the lanes of the freeway going in the other direction. A white car had lost control and was spinning on the highway, throwing snow all around, like petals on a flower suddenly opening in a spiral of white.

By some miracle the car missed a truck that shared the road with it, but I didn’t think it could miss the divider. I didn’t see how it could miss the divider. However, when I looked back, I saw it regain control and continue on down the road, unharmed.

I had tensed while watching the car spin about, and once I saw it was safe, I relaxed, yawning from the sudden cessation of stress. I didn’t see the two sea gulls in the road as they tried to take off. I did see the one lift just enough to fly safely to the side of the car. And I saw the other hit my window, flowing up and over the car and falling in a boneless, soft arc of winter white and silver grey to the road as I watched in my rearview mirror.


Magic moment in a tiny body

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The weather was beautiful today and I and my roommate went for a walk at Powder Valley. The forest was just getting its new green and mixed among last years fallen dead leaves were delicate pink, purple, blue, and white flowers — some hardly more than a mote in one’s eye.

As we were walking back to the parking lot, my roommate yelled out, “Stop! Don’t move!”


“Look down.”

squirrel2.jpgAt my foot was the smallest squirrel I have ever seen, a baby grey squirrel I had almost stepped on. When I stopped, afraid to move, the little guy walked up to me, climbed my tennis shoes and held on to my laces for dear life. The moment was indescribable.

Eventually the little creature decided I wasn’t it’s mama after all and crawled down to the sidewalk. It could barely walk, and moved with drunken movements in a circle, shivering from fear and hunger. Obviously this little guy was too soon out of its nest, and was in trouble. What was worse is that it would go towards people, looking for comfort and if they didn’t see the little thing they would almost step on it. Two younger guys came close until the small crowd that had gathered by that time yelled at them.

“Watch out! Don’t step!”


“Look down.”

My roommate went to the park center to get help while I stayed to keep the creature from harm. Well, I stayed with a group of about ten people, all forming a circle around the little baby to keep anyone from hurting it. Unfortunately the park folks were gone for a couple of hours. A nice man with a dark sweat shirt and grey hair stopped, kneeled down, and the baby crawled up to him. The man put his hand down and the baby crawled into it and stopped shivering, content to have contact with a warm, soft creature.


I know the scoop about baby wild animals — don’t touch. You can get your scent on the creatures, scare away their mothers, the whole thing. But if we left that baby alone, it would have been dead. Of that we had no doubt.

By helping the baby, we interfered with the natural development of this wild creature. If it was meant to die it should die. But then, we interfered with the creature when we built the cement walk that confused and frightened the baby. When we filled its home with tall, strange creatures that were warm, but didn’t have a nipple to suck, we were interfering. We also interfered by polluting its air with the fumes from the cars we rode in to get to the park. This little creature’s whole life was a result of human interference. A little late to quibble about interference when you’re looking into tiny, innocent eyes, and feel a small clawed paw wrap around your little finger.

The man made a little bed in his shirt for the tiny creature, who curled up, though still hungry. When I got close to look at it, it nibbled my nose. I looked into its tiny, clear eyes. It nibbled my nose again.

The man and his friends were at the park for a presentation that night. He said he would watch it, keep it warm and safe until the park people came back. We, reluctantly, left for home.

When I got home I went online and looked for information about lost baby squirrels. I found out that it’s perfectly fine to intervene and help the baby; it can still be safely re-united with its mother even after human contact. If not, the park has a rescue service for hurt or abandoned baby animals. The little baby will be fine.



The Blues and Bourbon Mississippi Social

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Howdy. Burningbird’s evil twin here.

I wanted to send out a hail and hie thee well greeting to Liz and the new Many to Many (M2M) weblog at Corante. Especially since this drags Clay Shirky into the murky, strange sea-green depths of the weblogging world. Damn glad to have you here Clay. And with comments, too.

This is a good move. I’ve been out and about reading and one issue that seems to be coming up frequently is that folks feel there is an elitist as well as exclusionary aura to the whole social software milieu. While some of this feeling is warranted, some is not.

Dave, in a rather breathless and impressive display of seeing how many people he can offend in one week, on topics ranging from RSS to Moveable Type to social software, wrote:


It’s wrong. We don’t need this. Weblogs are about punching through the hype machine of idiot analysts and reporters who go for their BS. Social software has existed for years. What’s the big news? A few people are looking for a pole to fly their flag on. Pfui!

While I also dislike the we’ve found the ultimate solution hype that goes with too many “new” things today, seems to me that Liz and Clay and the gang are actually trying to bust the hype surrounding social software, as well as making it accessible with their new effort. And considering it’s a weblog, which should automatically make it holy and free from harm, like the cows in certain parts of India and oil companies in Washington DC, I’m surprised to see such vehement pushback in response to Liz’s gentle introduction at the blogrollers interest group and elsewhere. Boys and, well, urh, boys — if this ain’t your thing you don’t have to go to the party. I’m sure that M2M folks will find someone else to play “pin the tale on the donkey” with.

I’ll have to admit after this discussion, BloggerCon holds little hope for being a venue of open and honest discussion from differing viewpoints and interests.

Instead, I hereby invite all folks who would rather just chat and smile and talk and have fun, join me in St. Louis at that time. We’ll hitch a ride on the river boat, plug in our laptops, and blog the waterways while sipping bourbon and listening to the Blues. We’ll call it the “Blues and Bourbon” Bloggers Anti-Conference Mississippi Social. Leaves are right pretty that time of year here. Right pretty. Why they even match my tasteful, warm weblog decor.


I’m going shopping!

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

This weekend I have the very real pleasure of shopping around for a new host, thanks to the generosity of friends. I am blown away by the support I’ve received, and hope you all won’t regret it because the fire’s back and I’m feeling hotter than ever.

I won’t be staying with my current host for a couple of reasons: space and technology support. There has been some performance problems with Hosting Matters in the past, but these seem to have originated primarily from the NOC (Network Operations Center) that HM was using. The company has since started the process of switching to a new NOC, and since I was moved to a new server at the new NOC, I’ve not had performance or downtime problems, and the support has been good. If it weren’t for space and issues of technical experimentation, I wouldn’t move.

All those photos I upload eat up disk space as well as bandwidth at a fairly quick pace, and I do so love taking photos and sharing them. In addition, I want to start experimenting around with technology again, including running Java applications through a Tomcat server and my current host doesn’t support this. Dorothea knows me so well when she wrote:


On the up side, an email from Jonathon indicated that the Burningbird campaign is going well. Could always be improved upon—especially given Bb’s tastes in server hardware—so ante up, folks.


Well, you did. Beyond wildest expectations. I am all agog with the dama…urh, new things I can do now in this year you’ve given me. And I solemnly promise to share whatever I come up with, including finishing my online C# book and the RDF Semantic Web Poetry Finder, and PostCon (yeah!) and a blackbox experimentation my evil twin is tentatively calling RSS Buster. Hee.

Ahem, back to technology requirements. Few plans offer Java support because of the potential for problems as well as the resource burden. No shared hosts allow for root access to allow new software installation. Based on these two requirements, I’m currently looking at several Virtual Private(Dedicated) Servers (VPS) at several companies.

A VPS is having root access to a server as well as dedicated CPU, bandwidth, and space, but without higher costs of a completely dedicated server. Software such as that built into some FreeBSD installations, and provided by Ensim literally partitions a machine’s resources among the VPS installed, preventing one from taking resources, or causing problems, for the others. By the use of this technology, I can do something such as run a BrownSauce RDF Browser for my experimentation and it won’t impact on resource use of other clients on the machine. Or I can create a Perl CGI script that goes insane and only worry about taking my own system down. Same with the other clients — they can’t touch me, my CPU, bandwidth, or space slice. Best of all, I can customize the software install without having to ask the host — something that pretty much eliminates software experimentation. One might say that shared web hosts really would prefer that their clients not experiment.

Among the VPS hosts, I have to find ones that provide high bandwidth and disk space, but also provide DNS (Domain Name server) support for multiple domains and sub-domains, with little or no additional costs. I still have multiple domains such as and, and I want to park them pointing to without having to pay a DNS setup fee. The odd thing is that shared hosting plans such as Hosting Matters provide this service for free and make DNS management a snap; while companies that support VPS, such as Interland and possibly Web Intellects, and which one would assume would have more need of this type of service, tend not to provide this type of support, or only with a fee. Go figure.

I can use free DNS servers, but DNS management is a bear, to be honest. I’d much rather have a quick and dirty form that has me type in the domain and a process automatically adds the proper DNS records. I like to experiment, but not with DNS.

Anyway, I’m looking at several companies that provide VPS (suggestions welcome!). There might be a day or two overlap when the site ends at Hosting Matters but I’m not finished at my new host. If you can’t see this site May 1, be patient, it will be back.

I am having so much fun looking for a server, getting my current sites backed up for moving, figuring out what software to install, what new project to try first, and getting applications I have on my personal machines ready for re-load to a server; and all of this fun activity is thanks to your generosity. You are all steely eyed missile men, and very good people.