Red Sox meet the Cards

Red. Meet Red. We coming to kick your butts, boys.

Of course, it would have been funnier if Houston went on to meet the Red Sox. I mean, think of it: A Texas team competing against a Massachusetts team. Sound familiar?


Wiki etiquette

Jeneane responded with her opinion about the statement that many more men weblog than women. I think that we can safely assume that she doesn’t quite agree with this statement.

Jeneane is also one of the happy, hardy volunteers for Kitchen duty, and is coming up with some interesting sounding ideas. Damn interesting in fact. She asked about where to focus her writing, and whether to write to the wiki or the weblog, and I thought a comparison between the two might be good for a weblog post.

Of course we know what a weblog post is. It’s a long-form, short commented link, featuring photos, not having photos, written, spoken, seen, commented, not commented, about one’s cat, and about anything but one’s cat. Well, maybe if we’re really honest, we don’t know what it is; other than I think we can all agree that it has a unique author, and it’s rarely edited after publishing. These are the key differences between a weblog and a wiki.

(And that anyone can usually sign up for a wiki user account, but most weblogs only have invitation only author list. The Kitchen, however, is completely open – anyone can sign up for their own account, and start writing as soon as they do.)

In a weblog, you identify the author of a post. The author may be writing under an alias, but there’s still (usually) one author. A wiki, on the other hand, actively discourages identification of an article with a specific person. In fact, following traditional wiki protocol, names are usually removed from contributions to a main wiki article page.

(They are, however, encouraged within discussion pages associated with the article, if the software supports this. The software we’re using does. To sign your name, sign up for a user account, login, and then when you want to add something to a discussion page, just type in four tildes: ~~~~. This puts in your username, a link to your user page, and the timestamp of the edit. )

In addition, the writing in a wiki article page is open to editing. Weblog posts are edited by their author, but usually not edited after posting. Wiki articles are continuously edited, and usually not by the original contributor.

Now, wiki discussion entries are not edited, or in my opinion, shouldn’t be edited; because these are comments and notes made by contributors, or readers, about the contents of the ariticle. If you want to see a good example differentiating between material in a wiki article, and the discussion associated with an article, check out Wikipedia’s George Bush page, and it’s related discussion pages. Right now, the article is ‘protected’, and under mediation to discourage vandalism (see Wikipedia’s fascinating discussion about protecting pages).

I will be following the procedures and guidelines established by Wikipedia because, frankly, this site and the people who maintain it know what they are doing. Which means encouraging multi-author contributions in the articles, discouraging editing of comments in the discussion, and protecting pages that get too hot to handle, until the participants cool down.

For the Kitchen clinic, I will be writing essays daily to the weblog, and most likely will be copying the contents of the essay to the appropriate page in the wiki, in order to hopefully jump start topics not already started. If a topic has been started then I may only add a link to the essay in the weblog.

Now, my enthusiasm for this wiki in this circumstance, doesn’t mean that I’m enthusiastic for wikis in all group efforts. In my comments, Sean Conner brought up the obvious enthusiasm I have for the Weblogging Wikipedia as compared to my oft stated reluctance and criticism of the wiki-driven effort with Atom.

I felt, and still feel, that the Atom effort didn’t suit a wiki. In fact, it didn’t take long before most of this effort left the wiki and became focused in the mailing list associated with the Atom syntax.

Atom was seeking to create a new specification in an environment that had been heavily contentious in the past. As such, it tended to attract fairly aggressive participants who would barely wait for the ink to dry on the paper before going in and editing whatever was written all to heck. Wikis should encourage editing, but not at the expense of each person having a right to have their voices heard. If a wiki is dominated by a small group of very aggressive editors, much of the beauty of the community participating in the wiki is lost.

In addition, the Atom effort was to form a specification, not necessarily to document existing information. In my opinion, and people can and probably will disagree with me, that a wiki is better suited to documentation and dissemination of information, than resolution.

In addition, as I’ve said previously, a wiki is a great way to document the ebb and tide of this very transitory medium we call weblogging. In fact, I had an email today asking for a summary of the contretemps that happened earlier in the year; the person wanted this for an article he is writing. This is the perfect demonstration of the benefit of the wiki for weblogging because once the event is documented, and all links scouted out and linked in, in cases like this, we just point the person to the relevant wiki page.

Only thing now, is I have to decide if I should add a new category to handle it: weblogging warfare.

Just Shelley

At the edge of change

My Dad did give me one last gift, and it’s one that would make him happy, too. This week I received half of his savings minus the expenses we’ve had. This combined with the increased writing I’m doing–finally–and the contracting work and the honorarium for the Kitchen, I’m finding that for the first time in two years I’m not worried about being able to pay the bills next month.

Seems trivial when the world is going to hell around us, but this is a significant event for me; unless you’ve been in this state, especially when you’re older, you don’t know exhausting it can be to be worried about money, constantly. If you have been in this state, you’re probably nodding your head right now– not emphatically, but sadly, ruefully.

More than the exhaustion from worry, you lose your self-respect, and begin to question your worth as a human being. In the last post we talked about wanting respect more than fame, but ultimately in the end we discovered that seeking respect from without can be just as limiting and constraining as seeking glory. Respect has to come from within, and self-respect is something I’ve had in short supply the last several months.

My birthday is in a few weeks, and I’ll be 50, and stretched beyond that, the future had become muddy and unclear. My Dad died, and he left me a gift – enough time to breath and rediscover hope. Is that a callous thing to say? That my Dad died, and it doing so, left me a gift? He wouldn’t think so. He loved me, beyond doubt and hopes and dreams, to the very core of him. He didn’t understand me most of the time, and he didn’t agree, and sometimes he would be angry with me– but he always loved me.

So now I have time to breath and I’m not going to waste his gift. I’ve been given a second chance and it’s up to me to make it grow into something good. To redraw the future.

One major change I’m making is in my lifestyle. Since my fall last Spring and badly hurting my ankle, I’ve not walked as much as I should, and it shows. More than that, my diet has been, frankly, atrocious–full of all those comfort foods that may give comfort today, but weigh you down tomorrow. Have you ever noticed that most comfort food is high in starches and fats and calories? Well, my favorites are, and they not only put the pounds on, I’m finding this type of food leaves me not feeling good.

I’ve been running my own tests the last three months, varying my diet among foods and I’ve found an important fact about me and food: I feel better when I eat a whole lot less simple carbohydrates These are the pastas and the potatoes and the candy and the cakes and the breads – oh the breads! I love the breads, but I also have an enormous sweet tooth, and I’ve written about my love affair with chocolate in the past.

However, in the last three months, whenever I’ve eaten pasta or the cheese bread from the deli or chocolate or anything of that nature, I don’t feel as good. In fact, when I’ve eaten lean meats and vegetables, usually cauliflower and brocolli and tomatoes or zuchini, I feel really good; not only after the meal, but for the next day or two. The change in energy is rather amazing.

A bit of research around brought me to the South Beach Diet, and reading about it, I found that my own experiments with my body, and having it tell me what it does and doesn’t like (not what I, the id, like and don’t like), coincides quite closely with the South Beach Diet. Unlike Atkins, with the reliance on fat-laden foods, and absolute abhorence against any carbohydrates, South Beach stresses lean meats (or meat substitutes) and plenty of legumes and green, leafy types of vegetables. In addition, after the first shock period when you eat no simple carbohydrates at all, you can begin to add in breads and chocolate and fruit–fruit’s the kicker for me, I love fruit–but in moderation.

Moderation isn’t a option for me, it’s a necessity. When I quit smoking years ago, my doctor, a wonderful person and the best doctor I’ve had, said that I was one of the lucky, unlucky ones in that I had an amazingly healthy metabolism. The benefits are that I have low blood pressure, low cholesterol levels, high resistance to illness, and various other things that make me generally a very healthy a person – well, when not brought down by depression, as I have been this last year. An unfortunate consequence of such a metabolism is that I can look at food and gain weight. I’ve had to avoid food magazines at all cost. A cookbook will send me into a bloated coma.

Joking aside, I can live on about 1000 calories a day when sedentary, which for someone close to six feet tall, is rather amazing. Luckily, I like fairly strenuous activities, such as working out in the gym or hiking. But this year, in part because of surgery last year and injury, but mostly because of depression, I’ve sat at home more often than not. Too much time on the Internet, and in books, and movies, trying to find some semblance of a life in other’s stories, rather than enforce the discipline to pick myself up off my butt and find my own damn life.

Finding life, such as finding work. It’s not that I haven’t looked for work. I’ve applied for customer service jobs at a couple of the local parks, and various other jobs that aren’t even remotely connected with computers, writing, or photography. Most only need a high school degree, if that. I’ve even looked at truck driving. I’ve had a couple of nibbles, but they look at my resume, and say something to the effect that there must be plenty of opportunity for me in my field, and I really am overqualified for their jobs.

I talked with a recruiter recently who was looking for J2EE people, and I said that I haven’t worked in this for so long that my skills have atrophied (not to mention, which I didn’t mention to the recuiter that I now find that J2EE, for the most part, has been a huge ripoff perpetuated on an unsuspecting world). I asked him what else he had and one of the jobs he mentioned was for a PHP/MySQL developer for a local university system. I jumped on it, but he said they weren’t paying much. I said, that’s okay. He said they wanted a junior person, someone they could ‘train to the job’. I said I was quite adaptable, but he replied, one look at my resume and the school would not be interested–I was too qualified.

Now, thanks to good people who I have met online, I have work and that’s encouraged me to try writing again, and I’m working on my first article in such a long time. Thanks to my Mom for the camera, and my Dad for his last gift, I even have the opportunity to pursue photography more seriously. I have a second chance.

But, I’m looking down at my sad ‘almost 50′ body and going, oh my God, who snuck in and left the Pillsbury Dough Girl. We are too weight concious in this culture, and trying to be skinny or to look like the ladies in the magazines or movies is unhealthy. But so is allowing your weight to get such a point, or should I say, your general condition get to such a point, that you find yourself restricted from activities you love; much less losing respect for yourself for letting yourself go to seed. We don’t have to be thin, but we do need to be fit. Right now, if I tried even a five mile moderate hike, I chance harm to my knees and ankles by lack of good conditioning. And that’s not acceptable.

Hence the change in lifestyle, and diet. And a goal: being able to do a level 5 fifteen mile hike I’ve been wanting to take, before the next Spring’s bugs pop out to do havoc. I also want to canoe down the ‘Sip.

And if my proposal gets accepted for O’Reilly’s Etech, I want to go and kick some male techy butt. Now, that would be wonderful exercise, and a very worthy goal.