Places of Energy

I was reading Maria’s post in response to the Ecotone’s Energy of Place. She wrote about living in San Francisco, within visual range of San Quentin prison, with it’s 613 men on death row:

I have asked others around me if they found it odd living in this place of plenty – excesses, really – with the largest death row prison so much in view (but so rarely in sight) as they go about their daily business. They (at least those I asked) said that they didn’t find it strange. It’s just the way things are. It’s all part of what makes this place what it is.

I thought Maria’s description of San Quentin being part of what made San Francisco what it is, was an interesting way of looking at it. But it is true, that for all the beauty of the region, both man-made and natural, there is darkness within the soul of the city– seen as you walk down the streets stepping over sleeping bodies, or take a ferry over to see the infamous Alacatraz.

Then there’s San Quentin, with people playing chess, as they wait to die; in a prison with some of the best views of San Francisco.

When I first read the Ecotone project title, I thought immediately of places that give you good energy. Like yesterday when walking at dusk in Powder and meeting the orphaned fawn, finally having lost its spots, but still young and trusting as she eats by the side of the path. A litte further along, I spotted an owl in the tree, a very rare occurrence for me.

However, I could name a hundred, a thousand places that provide the same good energy and can go to them when I have a little time and money for gas for the car. But I can’t always easily identify the ‘bad’ energy places, nor can can I as easily avoid them; they’re just as likely to be visiting me, as me visit them.

If good energy places leave you revitalized, places filled with bad energy leave you feeling listless, indifferent, and uninspired. Sometimes the places are easy to spot – a bad or unhappy job, relationship, or home life. Most of the time, though, they’re more subtle, and work against you slowly– sometimes giving you a little energy back as they continue to drain you, so you don’t know if the place is what’s leaving you feeling so off or something else. Anyone who has been in a bad marriage for a long time, will understand this one.

Yet, a bad energy place can have an odd fascination, and you return again and again, even though you find yourself dissatisfied each time you do; you wonder why you continue. It’s not necessarily a case of addiction, as much as it is a memory of, and hope for positive energy, which doesn’t materialize.

One could consider San Quentin a bad energy place that has a phsyical manifestation. Yet, I imagine the men on death row who sit and play chess every day find it to be a good energy place, when compared to the alternative.

Maybe places are just that, and it’s up to us to imbue them with energy, good or bad. However, my cat tells me that any place that doesn’t have a cat in it is a bad energy place, and to think otherwise is to be self-delusional; this includes Powder Valley because though the fawn is sweet, and the owl impressive, they’re not cats.


From the Squid Lady, a story

According to this story giant squid now exceed us in biomass in the world. This is born out by the sudden appearance of the Humboldt squid in the Puget Sound and off the waters of Alaska–not these creatures normal hunting territories.

Then there is the story about the giant squid, probably Architeuthis Dux, confirmed in New Zealand, and measuring 12 meters long. That’s close to 40 feet, for the metric challenged. Taller than a four story building.

Since this is Halloween I decided to look to see if I could find a ghost story about giant squids. I didn’t find a story, exactly, but I did find a very interesting weblog writing from May, 2004, that seemed to be looking for the same type of thing. The post provided a link to a wonderful Michael Chabon introduction to Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories, and this marvelous quote:

It may be, in fact, that the ghost story, like the dinosaur, is still very much with us, transformed past the point of ready recognition into the feathered thing that we call “the modern short story.” All short stories, in other words, are ghost stories, accounts of visitations and reckonings with the traces of the past. They describe moments when a dark door, long closed, is opened, when a forgotten error is unwittingly repeated, when the fabric of a life is revealed to have been woven from frail and dubious fiber over top of something unknowable and possibly very bad. Were there ever characters in fiction more haunted than Chekhov’s or Joyce’s by ghosts?

All short stories are ghost stories, because they all reflect, in some ways ghosts from our past. Isn’t that lovely?

Comments to the post in the weblog (Wired Mesh ) led to this giant squid song lyrics — which will have to do for Halloween, and giant squids:

I Crush Everything

I lie below, you float above
In the pretty white ships that I’ve been dreaming of
And I’d like to swim beside you
Getting dizzy in your wake
Getting close enough to touch you
Getting brave enough to take you into my arms
And bring you down to be with me

But I can’t do that thing anymore
I can’t be the thing I was before
Maybe I am better off alone
Because I crush everything
And I crush everything
And I crush everything

My body’s strong, but my will is weak
I got pretty nice arms, but I hate my beak
And the dolphins are all phonies
They seem nice enough at first
They pretend to be your friends
Until they see you at your worst and then they leave you
Without a word they swim away

So I can’t do that thing anymore
I can’t be the thing I was before
Maybe I am better off alone
Because I crush everything
And I crush everything
And I crush everything

And everything I want I take
And everything I love I break
And every night I lie awake

Did the stars come out? Did the world spin round?
Does it matter that much when you’re ten miles down?
And in the light that filters down
Into my giant yellow eye
I can see the sails unfolding
Stretching white against the sky and I forgive them
I forgive and I let go

Cause I can’t do that thing anymore
I can’t be the thing I was before
Maybe I am better off alone
Because I crush everything
And I crush everything
And I crush everything

And I crush everything
And I crush everything
And I crush everything

I lie below, you float above
In the pretty white ships that I am dreaming of

Sometimes this weblogging thing works out.

Thanks to Danny and his creepy pumpkins, and others,who have been sending me giant squid stories. They never fail to cheer.


Slow Cooked

This week I’m taking a break and heading down to Arkansas and the Ozarks. When I leave depends on if the Techwatch people respond to my email telling me where I need to be and when, and what I need to do. Since I haven’t heard anything by now, I’ll probably take off right after I vote Tuesday morning.

Arkansas is a wonderfully funky sounding state and I’m looking forward to my visit. The trout are moving upstream in the White River, one of the last rivers in this country where they can do this naturally. Arkansas is also home to the effort to preserve the genre of music known as ‘mountain music’.

There’s also a bakery that makes bread purely from wheat starter, and doesn’t use yeast for anything. They heat their old brick ovens up to 1000 degrees in the morning, clean them out, and then cool them down to 450 before putting the bread in. The loaves themselves are wrapped tightly in baker’s linen, and variations in the bread occur because of the incredible pressure that can build up. When you remove the loaf from the oven, you can’t eat it right away–the bread is still cooking internally. In fact, the guide I read recommended you wait for three days before cutting into the loaf.

In some ways this bread reminds me of the US Presidential election, and you might say we’ve all been wrapped tight in in baker’s linen, and the compression will keep us cooking long past the actual election date, regardless of who wins, regardless of how close the vote.

Today in Michelle Malkin’s weblog, she wrote the following based on Kerry’s response to the bin Laden tape:

The only thing “crystal clear” is Kerry’s utter lack of clarity on national security matters:

Which terrorists will Kerry “hunt down and destroy?” Only the ones who have already committed acts of terrorism. To borrow Charles Krauthammer’s brilliant phrase, Kerry is the self-styled “retroactive genius” in this campaign–the one “who always knows what needs to be done after it has already happened.” This is true not only of Kerry’s after-the-fact foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also of his after-the-fact homeland security policy. Kerry has lambasted John Ashcroft for targeting Middle Eastern illegal aliens, surveilling terrorist sympathizers, and arresting and prosecuting Islamist suspects. Yet, Kerry is silent on the preemptive measures he would take to stop terrorist conspirators on American soil before they commit their crimes.

Period? Has Kerry ever said anything unequivocally ? Period? Insert laugh track here.

Malkin is a journalist, author of a controversial book on the Japanese internment, and an extremely conservative person who one could say is a leading light on the side of the neoconservatives.

At Orcinus, Dave Neiwert’s weblog, I read the following based on the same tape:

In fact, that lack of judgment manifested itself in important ways: in the failure to heed the pre-Sept. 11 terrorist-attack warnings and being, essentially, asleep at the wheel when it came to terrorism on Sept. 10; and then by going to war in Iraq under what proved to be false pretenses; and most of all, his failure (despite multiple warnings) to adequately prepare or plan for an extended occupation coupled with a violent insurgency, not to mention providing enough troops to secure all the former Iraqi weapons sites.

How has Bush answered the justifiable criticism for these massive blunders? By questioning the patriotism of his opponents, of course.

But then, what else could we expect from someone with such a casual relationship with the truth?

Neiwert is also a journalist/weblogger, author of an upcoming book on the Japanese internment, and an extremely liberal person who one could say is a leading light on the side of the progressives.

Neiwert and Malkin used to work together on the same newspaper once upon a time. Other than that, being journalists as well as webloggers, and writing books on the Internment, couldn’t find two people more separated. Yet change the words a bit and you have two people who sound remarkably the same — it’s just each has picked a different devil to dance with.

Such absolute surety in the evilness of the presidential candidate they are not supporting. Bush wasn’t wrong on Iraq–he is evil, he was stupid, and now he’s lying. Kerry isn’t wrong on his plan for moving ahead on terrorism–he is evil, he is stupid, and now he’s flip-flopping.

And what are we shouting for? To convince some unconvinced voter? Would you want to vote for either of these men after reading both of these excerpts?

I am voting for Kerry. He doesn’t make me jump up and down for joy, but I think he’ll do his best, and most importantly, keep informed and be flexible to meet needs. I like his support on certain issues such as global health insurance, and re-training the unemployed. And no, I don’t he won’t give our country away to the terrorists. If anything, that’s probably what will disappoint me about him — he won’t roll back much of the Patriot Act and is unlikely to disband that horrid Office of Homeland Security.

He will boot out Ashcroft and Rumsfeld, so there is that.

In many ways the thing that Kerry has been most criticized for, his flexibility, is why I’m not voting for Bush. I studied Bush’ tenure as governor in Texas, where you can see the imprint of the man more clearly in a smaller, defined community.

He’s not willing to listen to naysayers, he tends to stick to a plan, even when finding out it’s not the best plan to follow. Additionally, I don’t think he understands people like me; like a lot of us.

He was raised in a family of wealthy people, primarily invested in oil and other rather conversative industries. The Bush family were brought up to believe that you help yourself or you help your friends and families, but you don’t ask the government for help. Anyone can be somebody in this country if they only work hard enough. This is, in essence, the core of the fiscal conservatives that make up the majority of the Republican Party.

But somewhere along the way Bush, the drinking, partying guy, found God, and in a big way. Like many reformed people, he is obsessive about his faith, to the point where he imposes his particular brand of faith on the country (though he may not always be aware that he is, or doesn’t see this as an imposition).

His family is one that doesn’t tolerate much in the way of disagreement, and they see this as a strength. If you were to tell him he’s being inflexible and rigid, and that this leads to acts such as the invasion of Iraq, he would look at you in astonishment and say that he’s just being a strong and committed leader. And he would mean it.

As for Iraq, Kerry voted with most of the Senate to give support to Bush for an invasion of Iraq, and he has to share cupability for this act. Bluntly, I don’t forgive either of them for not thinking through the passion of the moment following 9/11, and the clamor of the American people for blood. They have both wrought harm on that country, for what we have done to it; and this one for what we have become with this act.

However, Bush and his Cabinet are responsible for how this invasion was run, and it was badly done. Too much loss of life; too much loss, period, and the losses continue. I have no doubt that Rumsfeld was responsible for much of this with his arrogant assumption that this would be a cake walk — but in the military, and the person in the White House holds the highest office in the military, the top-ranking officer takes responsibility for the actions of his or her people under their command.

“Who was on deck, Captain, when the ship was blown up.”

“I was, sir.”

Would Kerry have done better? Frankly, I don’t think the issue of invading Iraq would have come up with Kerry. Whether you consider this criticism or a compliment to him resides, of course, with your view of the war in Iraq.

As for other issues, I don’t think that Kerry is necessarily a savior of the environment, but he’ll follow the party line and protect it. Not as much as I would like, but our beloved ANWR will be left alone, and we’ll stop drilling in Colorado and elsewhere; see what we can do to salvage Kyoto, too, because we need that act — every year now, we break temperature records, and this means something’s changing and I think global warming is it.

Contrary to a lot of assrtions, Bush is not against the environment as much as he grew up in a time when people believed that science could solve everything. Every little problem that man creates, science will fix. Rather than restrict our uses of limited resources, which would only constrain our progress and expansion, we’ll invent new things, such as hydrogen-powered cars.

To Bush, the environmentalists are alarmists who want to stop progress. They don’t take into account how inventive and capable humanity is; how we can rise to meet each challenge.

But I don’t agree with Bush, and that same science he rests his hopes on, tends to agree with me. We will run out of time before finding the solutions he believes in. Species are dying every day, and we’re loosing enormous amounts of natural wild land (essential for oxygen production and home to many amazing discoveries in medicine) by the minute. It tears my heart to see it, and to know that if you have kids under five today, by the time they have kids under five, chances are there will be no true wilderness left in this country and elsewhere.

We will feed the people, though. Not the soul of the people, not the heart, or the head; but we will feed the stomach. I don’t see this as something one should hold as a goal.

I don’t see Bush as a villain when it comes to the environment, as much as he has a set mind in how things work, and is resistent to seeing how things are.

As for the government helping the people, we are the last industrial nation on this world to not have a global health care plan or coverage for its people. If this doesn’t appall you, aren’t you at least embarrassed by it? And allowing people to invest their Social Security into the stockmarket is a course to disaster that only benefits those with the understanding of how it all works; frankly, these are the people who don’t need Social Security.

Kerry is a product of his background, which is New England liberal, balanced by his Catholic roots. As such he won’t be a blazing brand for change, but I think he’ll be a lot more conservative about the environment, and a little more liberal about social change. Internationally, the very fact that he isn’t Bush will probably work for him, because President Bush has pissed a lot of people off.

Bush is also a product of his background, which is Texas independent, balanced, or perhaps overloaded, by being a reformed born-again. As such he won’t be a blazing brand for change either, but I think he will erode many of the more global measures that have been enacted the last fifty years. This includes the expansions of rights we’ve enjoyed, as well as the environment and the movement of a society to care for its own.

As for terrorism, I have no doubts both will pursue bin Laden, and al Queda. I have no doubts that both will fight terrorism in this country, perhaps to the exclusion of other more needed efforts.

Returning to the Iraq War–we’re all just as much responsible for this as either Bush or Kerry. This is our war folks; we can’t push it off on others, or walk away and pretend it didn’t happen, and all is better now. It is our shame. And now it is our duty to do what we can to repair what we’ve done. I wish we knew what this is, though.

In the end, if Bush wins, we will survive. For the next four years, I will be watching and doing what I can to ensure he governs effectively, including using care in selecting all the other people running for House and Senate, and local government, and watching how they vote once in office. I will also use whatever other power I have as citizen to make my wishes and concerns known. But you know, I would do the same with Kerry.

Why hover over my man’s efforts equally with the other guy? Because though neither is evil, or stupid, they are politicians; and to blindly trust a politician is to court disaster.

Same kind of disaster as it is to continue fighting against each other, as foes to be crushed and vanquished but I imagine this is human nature and isn’t going to change with this election. Long live the human condition; slow cooked bread of a different kind. However, when this loaf of bread is removed from the oven on Tuesday, I’m not going to be around for the three days afterwards to watch it finish cooking. I’ll be in Arkansas stomping rocks and not people, and maybe trying my hand at a dulcimer; finding, I hope that last gasp and hope of fall color in this region.

Technology Weblogging

It’s called Wordform

When developers talk about creating a software fork, what we mean is that we’re going to take a cut of the code of the original and then develop from that point on in a separate and usually no longer compatible branch.

Firefox is an example of a fork of the original Mozilla project that was so successful, it became the official browser of the project (which is why you still also have a Mozilla browser [or did, haven’t checked recently].)

Why do forks occur? Sometimes it’s personality clashes; other times it’s because the developers of the forked version have a difference vision of where the product can go. Many times the developers who create the fork are part of the original team, but not always, particularly with open source.

Can forks hurt a project? Not usually. WordPress itself is based on a fork from the weblogging tool, b2. Another weblogging tool, b2evolution, is a second fork from the original product, being developed and maintained in parallel.

If anything, a fork can help the original development team because those who are pushing for a certain direction can go off and do their thing, leaving the developers alone.

As I wrote previously, the reason I decided to finally fork is when I realized that merging my customizations into WordPress was going to become harder and harder over time, and I’m not willing to give them up. Still, I hope to keep the plug-in and theme architecture compatible so the two environments can share objects of each.

My forked version of WordPress is going to be called, Wordform. From linguistics, a “wordform” is the smallest unit of speech or writing that can stand on its own, and has a distinctive meaning. Now, if that doesn’t sound like weblogging, I don’t know what does. The name also has the added benefit of paying homage to it’s parent, WordPress.

I’m not going to set up a weblogging tool empire, and look for gold or glory. The code will be available for download, will be GPL, and I’ll be enhancing and fixing bugs. But the effort is going to be very casual.

I’m doing this project for fun, but it’s also an answer to all those people who have said to me in the past, “Well, if you don’t like (fill in the blank) why don’t you create your own weblogging tool.” So I am.