Just Shelley outdoors Photography Places

Listening to your inner monkey

The photos in the last post were from a hike I took to Crane Lake on Sunday. I read in this new hiking book I bought, that it was an ‘easy/moderate’ hike, with a north loop of 3 miles around the lake; a southern loop 2 miles in length, with an end at the dam and around yet another shut-ins.

I had hoped to make both loops, it being easy and all, but ended up getting lost on the way. I ended up on a dirt and rock road leading into the interior of the Ozarks, past national forest land and small, old homes tucked into hills and hollows. The homes had signs posted on them–the usual with ‘Keep Out’, and ‘Private Property’. All except one that had a skull painted on a black board with ‘Keep out…or else’.

Finally I found the parking lot for the lake. It was cold Sunday, but a beautiful sunny day, so I was surprised not to see anyone else there. Still, I like having hikes to myself, so made no never mind to me. (That’s a genuine Ozarks expression — I’m adapting.) It was too late, though, for both loops and I’d have to settle for just the north one around the lake.

The hike started out easy, until reached the first hill to climb down. I found the ground covered with inches of dead leaves, and I couldn’t see the footing. I ended up sliding on the gravel and tripping over rocks. The little monkey in the back of my brain was wide awake, and though it wasn’t banging at my head, it was trying to make me aware that all journeys have an option: to go on, or turn back. I thought about turning around, but remembered that the hike was ‘easy’, and I wanted to see the shut-ins.

The rest of the trail worsened, obstacles buried under too many leaves to see, twisting my ankle, and constantly having to catch at the hiking stick to keep from falling. Again I thought about turning around, but figured it might be easier returning on the other side of the lake. Besides, I wanted to see the old dam, take some photos of it.

The trail turned into the forest away from the lake, and connected up with the Maple Creek section of the Ozarks Trail. It flattened, which was good. Unfortunately, while keeping my eyes down to avoid rocks, I also managed to miss the trail markers. Another aspect of hiking in the winter, just after the leaves fall, is that they can obliterate an already hard to see trail.

No worries, though — when you hike around water, you can always find the path again. It’s just that sometimes when you go off the path, the way isn’t always easy going. Still, I headed in towards the water, found the dam, struggled through the trees and branches and grabbed a picture of it from the side, turned around, and noticed a half torn off white diamond on a tree. I’d found the trail again.

Above the dam was the beginning boulders signaling the shut-ins, but I couldn’t see any indication of where the trail led. The sun was going down, a lot faster than I thought it should, and the path was further obscured by the long shadows of the white oaks I was walking through. Long shadows are not a day hiker’s friend.

I didn’t need the monkey to tell me to turn back–my common sense had finally decided to make an appearance. However, while exploring around, I had again lost the trail. In fact, heading back to the car, I lost the trail a third time, and managed to get back to the car just as the sun started to set behind the hills.

I was a wreck, too — absolutely exhausted, badly overheated from the cold weather gear I was wearing, dehydrated because I hadn’t taken enough water, and barely able to walk after twisting about on the rocks. And I all I could think of was how hungry I was, and how I wanted some onion rings. Water, too. But I wanted onion rings. Yes, indeedy — deep fried, corn dipped onion rings, fresh out of the oil. I ended up stopping along the way, and bought some from a fast food place and wolfed them down. I then came home and promptly became sick.

After 24 hours of oranges and bananas and rest, I checked the hiking book again, actually reading the front matter this time, and found that though a hike in the book might be rated ‘easy’ this was the Sierra rating system, which is based on elevation and length of hike — not ground surface. You have to read the hike details to get a better idea of trail conditions. According to the details on Crane Lake, though the elevation change is slight, the trail itself is ‘rugged’ and often times, easy to lose because of the poor markings.

The author also mentioned in the front matter about avoiding hiking in conservation land during November and December, because of deer hunting season. I had totally forgotten that Missouri Conservation lands allow hunting, and sure enough, Sunday was right in the middle of hunting season. However, not Iron County, which was where I was hiking. No hunting was allowed at Crane Lake.

Well, no hunting, except for the feral hogs known to be in the area. Feral hogs. I’ll be damned.


The sexy rocks I have known

A haibun is a combination of prose and haiku, with the haiku usually reflecting the writing, but not necessarily directly referencing it. It provides a personal perspective while still being detached; humorous and light, regardless of topic.

I learned about this style of writing from Loren Webster, who provided a particularly deft haibun today, about sexual desire and enlightenment, writing:

I’ve often felt in the past that that I would be a better person if I could free myself from my desires. After all, most great religions I’ve studied seem to imply that one of the first steps in attaining enlightenment is to free oneself from desire, particularly sexual desire.

As I’ve aged, in fact, I’ve comforted myself with the idea that as my sex appeal declined my desires also declined. Ideally, it seemed to me that the two would meet at the very point where pure enlightenment compensated for the fact that no woman in her right mind would even consider sleeping with me.

I chuckled when reading the last, a smile that froze on my face, as Loren acquainted his readers with the fact that he’s recently been diagnosed with another form of cancer. Operable, but not without side effects, such as medication that takes sexual desire but doesn’t leave enlightenment in its stead.

If I fuss and worry, I’m sure I will annoy Loren to no end, so what I’ll do instead is talk about hiking. It is, after all, a shared form of linguistics.

Perhaps these things work differently for women than for men, because I’m not sure that as I’ve gotten older my sexual desires have decreased. When I was younger, the drive for a ‘man’ dominated much more than today, but much of that was mixed with other complicated needs, such as reassurance that I was attractive, interesting, and above all sexy–that primitive little monkey in my head again, waiting to be mated.

What I’m finding is that I’m as sexual as I was in my younger days, but my sexuality isn’t necessarily tied up in ‘having sex’; I can also experience sexuality in my code, my writing and photography, and especially when I’m hiking.

I could even say that hiking is an erotic experience, but then I would have to bring in trite comparisons such as “when I touch the rocks of Castor Shut-Ins, I’m really touching myself”; or “the Slot was a crack in the earth — like a vagina waiting to be entered”. Then there would be the rocks thrusting skyward, like giant penises (or is that giant breasts?) and boulders and balls, or some such thing.

Oh, please. Why must all discussions of sensuality be reduced to a catalog of body parts? And why must all that is erotic be reduced to sex?

What is sex other than an intimacy and a passion, a fulfillment, and above all, a celebration of life? And isn’t this what I experience every time I complete a challenging hike, surrounded by the incredible beauty of the Ozarks, isolated from other people, and dependent only on myself?

It seems to me that rather than suppress one’s sexual desire to achieve enlightenment, one should give into it–to experience it in the wind, and touch it in the plants, and taste it in our drink, and above all hear it in our words.

Of course, I wouldn’t be adverse to the ‘real thing’, either. I am not celibate, only single. But I’m not dependent only on sex to find sexual completion.

Be well, Loren.

(Okay, okay, I’ll stop fussing.)


Webloggers and other ancient mariners

Dave Rogers sounds a bit ambivalent about weblogging at the moment, so I thought I would publish a poem by the odd and delightful Ogden Nash that I think he’ll appreciate. By the way, Dave, you have to stay around; we need more people that know “War of the Worlds” is a remake.

So Does Everybody Else, Only Not So Much

O all ye exorcizers come and exorcize now, and ye clergymen draw nigh and clerge,
For I wish to be purged of an urge.
It is an irksome urge, compounded of nettles and glue,
And it is turning all my friends back into acquaintances, and all my acquaintances into people who look the other way when I heave into view.
It is an indication that my mental buttery is butterless and my mental larder lardless,
And it consists not of “Stop me if you’ve heard this one,” but of “I know you’ve heard this one because I told it to you myself, but I’m going to tell it to you again regardless,”
Yes I fear I am living beyond my mental means.
When I realize that it is not only anecdotes that I reiterate but what is far worse, summaries of radio programs and descriptions of caroons in newspapers and magazines.
I want to resist but I cannot resist recounting the bright sayins of celebrities that everybody already is familiar with every word of; I want to refrain but cannot refrain from telling the same audience on two successive evenings the same little snatches of domestic gossip about people I used to know that they have never heard of.
When I remember some titlating episode of my childhood I figure that if it’s worth narrating once it’s worth narrating twice, in spite of lackluster eyes and dropping jaws,
And indeed I have now worked my way backward from titllating episodes in my own childhood to titillating episodes in the childhood of my parents or even my parents-in-laws,
And what really turns my corpuscles to ice,
I carry around clippings and read them to people twice.
And I know what I am doing while I am doing it and I don’t want to do it but I can’t help doing it and I am just another Ancient Mariner,
And the prospects for my future social life couldn’t possibly be barrener.
Did I tell you that the prospects for my future social life couldn’t be barrener?


B & B toss up

I have to go to Ann Arbor, Michigan in the next couple of weeks, if the weather holds, to visit a very specialized store, to get material to make a very specialized, but late, Christmas present. Being Michigan, December is not the best time to travel in the state, so I thought I would check out B & B’s because if I’m going to be stuck in a place for a couple of days, at least I would have people to chat with. Additionally, if the place I pick is interesting enough, perhaps even be able to take some photos.

I found a listing of two B & B’s in the area that caught my attention right off:

The Library Bed and Breakfast

Books, books and more books! Choose from the Poetry, Fiction/Mystery and Miniature/Pop-up bedrooms. Loose yourself in the Rare Book Living Room full of many special book collections, a complete kitchen and share a Go Blue! Bathroom. Short walk to campus, sports and downtown. Full literary breakfasts! Walking maps available to all libraries, bookshops and museums. Truly a book lover’s delight. $$

The Eighth Street Trekker’s Lodge

Fun, relaxed and adventurous. An 1875 home with a Himalayan theme, five blocks west of Main Street. Royal Nepal guest room with twin beds and shared bath, rock garden and mountain stream in the attic. Customized adventures trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal. Himalayan Bazaar in the garage and Everything’s Art Gallery. Hungarian watch cat and vegetarian breakfast included. $-$$

Upon further investigation, I found the following about the Trekker Lodge:

My cats name is Frederika. Like the tigers in Nepal, she will hide from you most likely. You will be lucky to see her at all. But if she does let you pet her, be aware that she has claws.

Having looked forward to a feline friend to cuddle with, I was rather disappointed to read this. I looked further at the Library, and ended up finding a host of literary theme-based lodging, such as the Artful Lodger. But how can I resist The Burnt Toast Inn?

Easy, when there’s an inn called the Vitosha Guest Haus, with a description like the following:

An English Gothic yet cyber-savvy inn featuring feather duvets, fireplaces, and afternoon tea. Located in a historic church complex on the University of Michigan campus. Formal breakfast in a cottage flower gazebo garden with a stone teahouse. Pets in residence. Rooms with private baths and DSL

Would an English Gothic with a formal stone teahouse, a Frank Lloyd Wright church attached, owls in the rafters, with DSL and duvets have pets that will cuddle with me?

Technology Weblogging

Multi-blog Multi-user metadata support

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

In my comments, Eric Wallace asked about multi-weblog support. I can answer him, with a few caveats, that yes, the first alpha release of Wordform will have multi-weblog support. The caveats are that this support, in addition to multi-user support, will be added as formalized extensions to the base product.

Much of the work I’m doing in the administrative pages is to make much of the interface dynamic, so that I, or another developer, can extend the options available within the tool itself — not just within the weblog pages shown to the public. By doing this, the base Wordform release will be very simple and easy to use and hopefully will meet the needs of 95% of the weblogging user base.

Now, for the other 5% of webloggers who want to get down and funky, well, they have some interesting possibilities available to them, as time goes by; including three extensions, called Administrative Extensions that will release with Wordform 1a.

The first Administrative Extension is multi-user support, and this will add in the User management page, in addition to a drop down in the edit page allowing an administrator to pick which user to write as. For the non-administrative users, they will only be able to post as themselves.

To meet this functionality, the Profile page will be pulled out of the Users page, so that everyone can manage their own profile, regardless of Extension installed. In the Users Management page, though, those with administrative permissions will be able to assign Profile types to users, as well as define what accessibility each profile will have.

The User Management page will also allow the administrators to assign individuals to specific weblogs, which leads to the next major extension: multi-weblog support.

The developers of WordPress had added blog number to tables in 1.2 (correction: I don’t find these, so will need to add), but hadn’t implemented multi-weblog support, because this is not an easy change and I can respect this, having to struggle with solutions myself. Specifically one problem with PHP is that you have to set directories to write by the world to add files, and this isn’t necessarily secure.

I’ve thought about this one for a long time, and the implementation I’m going to support is something a little different–matching Movable Type’s way of doing business more than WordPress.

If you install the Multi-Weblog Administrative Extension, an administrator gets an option to create a new weblog. This weblog will be added to the database system, and you’ll be asked for specific URLs of the home page, archive structure, and so on — just as with permalinks options page now. You’ll be given a second of permalink entries for an .htaccess file for the new weblog, but you won’t add them to the existing .htaccess file for the initial weblog installation; you’ll add them to the .htaccess file at the new location.

(There will probably be one more file that needs to be copied to the new location. Hopefully no more.)

The new location will act as a separate weblog, but it will be run on the same Wordform installation.

So I have a weblog at and one at The site is a subdomain installed in /home/shelley/www/rdf, and weblog is installed in home/shelley/www/weblog. I install Wordform at (in /home/shelley/www/weblog) and generate permalink entries for the .htaccess file at

When I add the second weblog at, I’ll generate a second set of .htaccess rules for this new weblog, which will be added to the .htaccess file at (at /home/shelley/www/rdf). These rules will, among other things, define which weblog number the pages belong in, and will also handle redirects for comments, trackback and so on, because the application files for all of these are still back at

Both weblogs will be in the same database tables, separated by weblog number, very similar to how Movable Type works now.

From the Command Central page, you select the weblog you want to work in, just like Movable Type, and everything is filtered to that specific weblog. Again, just like Movable Type. The only difference is that there won’t be static pages at the site for the archives.

The basic installation of Wordform will be adjusted to pass weblog number, regardless of whether this extension is installed, so that it can be dropped in with minimum impact. This is the most major change I’m making when moving WordPress to Wordform.

Each weblog will be able to create its own separate wp-content subdirectory, to handle separate photo uploads and plug-ins and themes. However, activation of plug-in and themes is separate for each weblog.

The last Administrative Extension released with Wordform 1.a, is the primary influence for me to fork WordPress, and that’s the Metadata Extension. I want to cover this, very carefully, in a separate post, but for now, briefly, the Metadata extension allows developers to define a new RDF triples based meta-vocabulary, which can then be added to the installation–just as you add a plug-in. The developers will include, as part of the extension, an easy to use form for the weblogger to add data.

As a person adds a new post, they’ll have the option to add the metadata for one, two, or a dozen vocabularies, based on a dropdown box available from the edit page. They could add poetry metadata (’bird’ is used as metaphor for ‘freedom’ in this poem, named ‘ ‘, discussed in this weblog post with URI of _____); podcast metadata; photo metadata; metadata for recipes; geography — any vocabulary that is defined as a ‘metadata’ extension within the Wordform accepted format.

Just like with the feeds now, you can access a page like, and get the RDF/XML for all the vocabularies with data defined by the weblogger. Or you can pass in, just to ge the RDF/XML for the Poetry vocabulary defined for the post.

Before the developers assume this is a way for me to sell my RDF book, tools will be provided to make this easy to do for the developers (i.e. they won’t have to ‘learn’ RDF–they should, but they won’t ‘have to’). I’ll also be using RAP (the RDF API for PHP) to manage all the RDF bits.

I have been promising both threadneedle and Poetry Finder for close to three years now. Finally I have the vehicle to deliver on my promises.

More on metadata extensions in Wordform later this next week.