A tale of two technologies

I just published the first two parts of the four-part Tale of Two Monsters. These are something different, with the first covering legends and old sci-fi movies; the second covers the field known as cryptozoology and if you’ve not heard of it, you’ve heard of the beasties this field investigates.

Fun stuff. Well, I thought it was fun stuff. These four articles took considerable time to research, and I met all sorts of interesting people online through them.

I still have to edit the last two, to make sure the data is up to date. So much has happened with giant squid research, that I know I’m badly out of date in the third article. Once these are finished, then I have a few other old stories to port, and can get to the new stuff–a couple of LAMP essays, including one on the concept of open source Java (J-LAMP?) How appropriate that Apple’s hot new server comes with a Java-based blogging tool.

Is the Java community feeling threatened by the upstarts, PHP and Python, and their grandaddy, Perl? Guess it’s time for another Parable of the Languages.

I also discovered a very fun new toy, and am creating not one but three FLASH movies featuring the same song recorded by three different women, and using my photographs and other graphics.

Playing time aside, I was delayed with today’s publication because of work commitments and this and that. Additionally, I wanted to use page breaks with these very large articles, which meant finishing up my WordPress tweaks. Now, you have an option with larger articles of accessing each individual page by clicking on the page number; or selecting to read the entire article, as one unbroken page. I’ve also added code so that the comments only show at the end of the article, not at the end of each page.

The second Tale of Two Monsters references a site called Blather. If you’re into UFOs, Nessie, odd science, the occult, conversing with fellow druids, Greenpeace, or very different and very interesting people, you really need to spend some time at this site.

And this will make Dave Winer and the RSS Advisory Board members happy: Blather features RSS 2.0 feeds.

updateBlather is using Movable Type. Wow, talk about future meeting past with a clash and a bang. However, I love the idea of the cryptozoologists getting weblogs–these guys are pros at conspiracy theory. Compared to them, we’re rank amateurs.

What made me happy was finding a copy of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, which I haven’t seen in years. I know it’s a turkey – but they were the best kind.

Next week…The Wasp Woman!


Google Email

I had received a Google email invitation a week or so back. Originally I created the account under shelleyp, but I’ve since moved to an account with ‘burningbird’ as the recipient. The original name is too close to my primary email account. And nobody, I mean nobody spells my name correctly.

I used a Google invitation to ‘move’ my account, and closed down the old one. However, Google is like a lot of ‘beta’ social software apps – it doesn’t close an account down cleanly. Email still goes to my old account without bouncing back, and I have no way to access it.

First thing engineers should design into a new social software application: the exit.

If you want to reach me via email, you might send it to me at the new account. I don’t have any spam there…yet. I think you can figure out how to form the email address from what I’ve given in this post.

If you’ve sent email to the old Google email account– marriage proposal, death threat, an invitation to join you in hot, torrid, sex, or a great job offer (hopefully not all in the same email)– you might want to resend it to the new address; the Google engineers have the original now, and they’re at home, with their feet up on the coffee table, drinking beers, and making a whole lot of fun of what you’ve written.

And yes, if I get any invitations, I’ll offer them online.


The Crystal story is back online

I was able to recover the hard copy pages of the Crystal Story, fomerly known as “A Girl and her Rocks”. Somehow in all the moving I made a few months back, I blew away the MT database for the site, and have to hand edit the pages.

Eventually I’d like to move these into a WordPress weblog, and create a new style for the pages, but you can see the rocks and read the stories online now.

Including the following, a story about amber, and a man named Kristof…

Coming home from the park tonight, I had the windows rolled down to catch the evening breezes, and the music cranked loud, enjoying being out of the house and away from the computer. I was on autopilot, not really paying attention to my surroundings until I pulled up behind a dark bronze colored car at the spotlight. The license plate read KRSTOF.

KRSTOF. Kristof. A name that evokes images of dark gypsies with mysterious ways, brilliant red sashes holding hair back from unnerving black eyes. I peered into the back window of the car but the glass was too dark and the sun against it to bright to see anything more than a shadow of a head. A male head. Of course.

When the light changed and as we drove, I thought about this man in the gold car, with the name that rolls across your tongue like fine chocolate or the merest wisp of fine cognac.

Like me, Kristoff is a hiker; however unlike me, with my walks along simple paths close to home, he’s traveled all throughout the world: hiking the fjords in Norway and the hills of Scotland and Spain. He speaks with a slight accent, the product of his early youth spent in Europe, as the son of a university professor who taught medieval history.

His face is lean and dark from the sun, and wrinkles form grooves down his cheeks and a single line between his eyes. He’s is in his late 40’s, but age sits on Kristof as lushly and caressingly as the dark, sable soft mustache sits over his thin lips.

His hands grab the leather wrapping of the steering wheel, fingers long and slender but strong; gentle hands with calloused fingertips, a legacy of years of playing classical guitar. Around his neck he wears a silver necklace, weighed down by an extraordinarily carved amber leaf, held in place by intertwined silver vines. The pendant was a gift on his 40th birthday from his mother, an artistic and ecentric woman who used to make him soft boiled eggs sprinkled with chives and dotted with caviar for Sunday breakfast.

His parents are separated, and have been for years; though apart, they still remain close. There is love between them and always will be, but it’s not enough to overcome their need to be free – a need that chafes at the bonds of daily cohabitation. As soon as Kristof was old enough, they talked with him about this need to be apart and from that moment he alternated his time between them, content with his odd but satisfying family.

Kristoff’s father is retired, living in Denmark and doing research for a book on Margaret, Queen of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Margaret, a queen in a land dominated by men, was gifted enough to capture the hearts of the people and keep peace in her homeland of Denmark; strong enough to extend that peace through marriage and alliance to include Denmark’s neighbors, a rare moment of unification for an area with strong regional ties.

Kristof’s mother is visting Russia, searching for fine specimans of baltic amber, the stone she uses for all of her jewelry. At one time she used other stones, such as onyx and opal and lorimar, but after her first creation with amber – the very pendant on her son’s necklace – she would work with no other material. In Moscow, she meets with an old friend and over cups of strong tea served in tall glasses held by delicate silver filigree, they talk of rumors that another piece of the famous Amber Room has surfaced. Entirely crafted of fine amber in different hues, the Amber Room was a gift to Peter the Great from the King of Prussia, and they say to walk within it was like bathing in pure sunlight. The room disappeared during the War, stolen by the Nazis and some said destroyed in a fire, others said at the bottom of Baltic Sea when the ship carrying it was sunk.

As much as he loves his parents, though, Kristof’s mind is not on them, Margaret, or amber. He’s thinking of a trip two weeks ago when he was visiting a close friend who lives in Maine. They had spent a fine day out on a boat owned by his friend’s brother, sailing about the bay with the Atlantic breezes cool as they blew through Kristof’s thick, dark hair; the sun warm as it touched upon the glint of silver at his temples and in his mustache.

The boat was trim and sleek and the gathering of friends and family was warm and friendly, made more so by another guest, the cousin of his friend’s brother’s wife. He had noticed her as soon as he stepped on to the boat, a woman with chestnut hair down to her shoulders softly framing a face lovely, but not beautiful. She had a light dusting of freckles across her nose that he only noticed that evening when they walked along the beach and he bent down to meet her face tipped up to meet his. The moonlight and the golden glow of the antique streetlight next to the beach picked out her soft grey/green eyes, a hint of laughter and something else, something more subtle, reflected back at him.

In the morning, they shared strong, rich coffee made smooth by sweet creme, and spread blueberry jam on fresh, still warm muffins. The day promised to be another fine one, with only faint wisps of fog curling around the trees by the shore. They ate on the porch, sitting in rockers worn grey from years in the salt air and smooth by the bodies of past visitors, occasionally tossing crumbs to the seagulls that shamelessly begged at their feet.

Kristof remembered her soft curves and generous mouth and the blue-green tang of the ocean, always the ocean behind and around them; but more, he remembered her laughter and how well their words met and melded into crystaline phrases he could still recall. He told her about autumn in St. Louis, looking at her from the corner of his eye as he spoke about the deep greens of the hills turned into the same brilliant colors of his mother’s collection of fine amber. He also made sure to talk about nights filled with delicately fried catfish accompanied by dark beer, and cool, blue jazz. His words were both a promise and a lure, and he wondered whether he should wait until he got home, or pull over then and there and call her on his cell phone.

At that moment, Kristof turned into the left turn lane, and I pulled up beside him and then passed, eyes forward and on the traffic surrounding my car.