Yesterday I went to the Meramec State Park to hike and continue my reaquaintence with my film camera. As I pulled off the freeway to Highway 185, I saw a semi blocking the road in both directions, hit by another semi when it had tried to pull intot the road from the right. I was close enough to see the drivers and the police and was surprised at how good natured everyone was. People were smiling, even laughing, as they worked to get the blocked semi out of the way.

Eventually, they did whatever they were going to do as the semi crawled around on its own power, limping down the road, a perfect word to use because it literally was limping on its right side. Once it was past, I could see why the reason for the humor — it had been hit by a semi who was hauling what was left of another wrecked semi truck.

I arrived at the park later in the afternoon, and pulled into the Visitor Center to get my bearings. Unfortunately, when I pulled in I stopped dead in the middle of the parking lot to look at my map, assuming no one was around. I didn’t see the Sheriff’s car directly behind me. When I realized I was blocking a car I pulled into a slot, but of course, the office pulled next to me and I thought he was going to give me a lecture, deserved, about how not to drive. Instead, he asked, “Ma’am, do you need help with something?”

Assumption of innocence is a wonderous thing.

“Yes, can you advise me which trails around here don’t have tics and chiggers?”

“Well, this time of year, it’s pretty bad walking anywhere in the Ozarks but the this trail over here,” he says, pointing to one off the Visitor Center, “I take my kids on it, and it’s pretty clear.”

Thanking him, and fate for dealing me a patient policeman, I checked out the trail he mentioned, but a criss crossing of webs across the path dissuaded me. I can’t stand walking through web, I just can’t stand it. Instead, I drove to the end of the park to walk the trails near the Meramec River and Fischer Cave.

Along the way I had to crawl down the road because deer were continuously crossing it. I could see movement in the forest around the road from the corners of my eyes and I was both thrilled and a little stressed because I didn’t want to hit a deer, even at 5MPH. What I almost did hit was a teenager who decided to strap on inline skates and hurtle down the hill towards me, assuming no one was around (or not caring). I pulled over to the side to let him past, wondering who was the ‘dumb animal’ on the road that night — the deer or the kid?

I made my way through the campground at the end of the park, nodding my head at the campers out walking because the weather was fine, real fine, warm, and dry, with a nice cool evening breeze. Instead of a trail I found a path down to the Meremac river, it being low enough for me to walk along the sandy bed.

The opposite side of the river is all tall limestone cliffs covered with trees, many of which are just barely beginning to turn colors — scarlet, orange, gold, but primarily still that wonderful brilliant green of the Missouri forests. Sometimes the colors are so sharp here, so clear and pure, especially when you see them in the early morning or late afternoon that you can almost feel them as texture in the air around you — velvet reds, smooth, cool green, and sharp, rough browns and oranges.

Birds were about, diving at insects over the water, many of which found their way to dine on me — my arm is swollen about the elbow by something that bit me, and I picked up a couple of chiggers along the way. However, being part of the food chain is the price you pay to enter heaven on earth, as my little sandy beach along the river was.

I walked along until I found an area shadowed on both sides, where the river water had pooled forming a semi-lake with branches of dead trees sticking out. I was taking photos of the cliff when I heard a splash and turned around just in time to see an eagle or large hawk grabbing a fish from the water and beating its way to the top of the trees and out of sight. Other predator birds were circling about, waiting their turn, and most likely my absence from their feeding ground. Bu I couldn’t leave.

I put my camera away and stood there, breathing in that sharp Missouri Green smell; listening to the orchestra of breeze and insect and bird; watching a hawk circling about as it hovered over the fish jumping in the water, all surrounded by that glorious color.

(This non-photo photographic moment is dedicated to Margaret Adam, who could probably use a pick-me-up about now.)

Books RDF Writing

A kinder, gentler Slashdot…and friends

Today Practical RDF was reviewed at Slashdot, a fact I found out when some kind souls warned me of the fact so that I might prepare for the hordes marching in. However, Slashdot book reviews usually don’t generate the server stress that other Slashdot articles can, and the server was able to handle the additional load with ease. This now makes the second time I’ve been slashdotted and lived to tell the tale. Thirds the charm, they say.

It was a nice review, and I appreciated the notice and the kind words. In fact, I’ve had very positive reviews across the board for the book, which is very gratifying for me and for Simon St. Laurent, the lead editor. I’ll probably earn ten cents for every hour I spent on the book, but at least I can feel satisfaction that it’s helping folks and the writing is respected and seen as a quality effort. That’s pretty damn important for a writer – worth more than bucks.

Well, bucks are nice, too.

Speaking of Simon and the book, I was reminded that I owe some articles on RDF and Poetry, and a view of RDF from inside the XML clan, and a few other odds and ends. Hopefully this nice little push will energize me again and I can get these written. It’s been a while since I’ve delighted in the act of writing.

I also wanted to thank the folks for the thoughtful comments in the Tin Can Blues posting. I must also admit I lied in the posting – horrors! – but the lie was unintentional. I forgot that when I worked at Express Scripts earlier this summer that one of the people I worked with started weblogging just as I was leaving. I still remember the shock I received coming around a corner and seeing him read my weblog. As to the question whether your writing changes when you meet those who read it, I remember that for two weeks after that incident, I focused almost exclusively on photography and technology.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to the issue of meeting webloggers in the flesh. I think it really is up to the person, and the opportunities, as many of you noted. For myself, several St. Louis webloggers and others passing through the community have invited me to events, cook outs, coffee, and beers, and all of the people are terrific folks, and I know would be a real treat in person. But it’s not easy for me to mix my worlds.

Ultimately for all the chatter I’ve indulged in online, I have become somewhat of a reclusive person; uncomfortable with larger gatherings (i.e. more than three people), quiet at any events other that professional ones. I love to speak at conferences, but I find corners to inhabit when I’m finished. This person in this weblog – assertive, outgoing, and anything but shy – is the real me; but so is the physical person who runs from parties and get togethers, and I just don’t know how to reconcile the two.

I do know that my not meeting people in the flesh doesn’t diminish my genuine affection for the people I’ve met and come to admire, respect, and like through this virtual medium, and maybe that’s all that matters.

(Po-ll-y-a-nn-a!! This sounds good, but I don’t think it’s that simple. I can see a time when friends met online but never in person become less tangible than the ones whom we’ve pressed the flesh with, in one way or another. Our presence will begin to thin as it stretches to meet always and continuously across the void; touching through the mists, our essence flows around the shadows cast by the real, becoming increasingly transparent – true ghosts in the machine.

Or maybe I’m just tired. And maudlin. Time for new topics…)

Speaking of people I’ve not pressed flesh with, Liz writes about Google search hits, mentioning the phrases she now ‘owns’, such as “introvert extrovert”. I checked my stats and find that I own or partially own several phrases including ‘parable’ (number two), Shelley (number one), and ‘love sentences’ (number two).

I thought it was funny that DorotheaLiz, and I have part ownership of the word ‘frustration’ – Dorothea at sixth, me at eight, and Liz at ninth. See what all of you guys are doing to us?

The most problematic phrase I own is ‘baby squirrels’. Yup, search on baby squirrels and there I am, Kicking the Baby Squirrels, Again. I get a lot of visitors for ‘baby squirrels’.

I also own the number two position for the phrase ‘virtual friends’. I’d rather own ‘real friends’ but that’s owned by cats.

PS Nobody make AKMA laugh for the next week.


Slashdot review of book

Dorothea just sent me a heads up that Practical RDF has been reviewed at Slashdot. All in all, a nice review and I appreciate the author, Brian Donovan writing it.

In fact, all the reviews I’ve read — at O’Reilly, Amazon, Programming Reviews, and elsewhere — have been very positive. Most of the criticism has been on the book organization, with some people wanting more coverage of the specs, some wanting more coverage of the tools, some wanting less coverage of the XML. However, add all of the comments together and the organization probably fit the audience about as good as it could considering the topic.

Though this site is linked from the review, I’m not getting many hits, not compared to the traffic I received for Parable of the Languages. Probably a good thing because I’m maintaining this server, and slashdot proofing is a tough SysAdmin job.

Thanks Dorothea, for pointing out the review.

PS Thanks also to Rev Matt for heads up, as well as nice note in the /. thread.

Original archived at Wayback Machine