outdoors Photography Plants

Meets the eye

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day, almost 70 degrees. There was a breeze, but it was warm and gentle and one could go about with a light jacket and feel just right.

I hadn’t been up to Shaw in a long time because of the road construction on I-44. The state is adding an extra lane all the way to Gray Summit, and in the process the lanes are narrow and the road surface uneven. The speed limit is supposed to be 50, but I’ve yet to see anyone follow this. Well, other than myself. A Ford Focus handles beautifully on country roads, gravel, in the city and what not, but it does not do well on uneven roads.

At Shaw I debated on taking the forest path to the wet land, or the country road behind the back. I had my iPod in its new heavy duty Belkin leather case, and it was fun just walking along the road, listening to Bond; taking the ear buds out from time to time to listen to the wind through the trees and the birds singing.

I also took along my camera because, though Shaw is in the middle of its dormant stage, you never know when something will pop up that might be fun to photograph. Such was the case yesterday when I came across piles of cut Eastern redcedar.


Eastern redcedar is really a juniper tree, but it still has a beautiful grain and smell. The photography gave me an excuse to get close to the wood and breath in the scent. I noticed that the trees must have been fresh cut, as they were still ‘bleeding’ from the cuts.




A couple of folks came along and seemed dismayed to see what looked like healthy young trees cut down. After all, this is a Nature Center, what could be more natural than trees? Especially when the Center replaces the stands of trees with what looked like fields of weed. However, this effort is part of the the ongoing effort to remove invasive species all across the park; restoring native wetland and prairie, as well as stands of hickory and oak, which are more natural for this area.

Environments are delicate, and the health of a particular environment is not necessarily obvious in the eye of the beholder. Though a vast empty prairie may look like ruin, and a forest of cedar look richly healthy, the opposite can be and often is in true–prairies are alive with many species of plants and animals that may be difficult to spot, while eastern redcedar forests may contain just that: big redcedar trees and nothing else.

At one time, Shaw was prairie and wetland, but people came along and plowed it under into farmland. When the farms were abandoned and the ground lay fallow, rather than be reclaimed by what was natural wildflowers and grasses, seeds contained in berries eaten by birds made their way to the fertile ground and honeysuckle and eastern redcedar thrived. Unfortunately, redcedar needles contain a high level of acidity, unpalatable to other plants. Both species choke out others by overrunning the ground as well as providing a canopy preventing young plants from getting enough sun.


Like many other areas in the Midwest, work is underway to pull up these invasive plants, and replant native species in their place. Until this is finished, every winter the park is a mass of pulled and destroyed honeysuckle vine and redcedar trees in addition to the marks of controlled burns.

I left the road half way around to take the forest path past the prairie. The park had added a new bench overlooking the hills in a nice place to sit and enjoy the view of the grassland and the sod house on the hill.


I liked the inscription on the bench: He was in love with this world.





Photography Weather

Whirling away

The robins were by yesterday, in their annual migration. I grabbed a few photos, which I’ll scatter about this writing.

We were hit, or I should say, sideswiped by a tornado Sunday night. It wasn’t a surprise: we had tornado watches all night, and you could see the storm coming toward us on the radar. Still, we’ve had warnings before and not much has happened, so I went to bed about ten on Sunday after taking two nighttime Tylenol to help me sleep.

The Berries are mine. Mine.

Peek At You

I lay in bed, half asleep listening to the wind and rain, when I noticed that the sound was getting louder and more steady. People have said that tornadoes sound like trains, but I didn’t get that impression. The sound was unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and as it got closer, I grew more alarmed until I jumped out of bed and opened the curtain. Outside was rain and hail and wind whipping all about in a chaotic fashion. When one of the lamp posts fell over, I grabbed my robe and called out to my roommate that we were getting hit by a tornado.

Pretty Girl

He was still up, watching weather on television and assured me that this wasn’t a tornado — they had turned off the tornado warning just a few minutes before. It was just a strong wind is all. I stood in the hall, robe clutched around me and listened, and as suddenly as the wind had started, it was gone. He went back to bed; I went back to bed.

Bright Eyes

Strong wind my butt. The next morning I took my roomie into work, and we passed the Wal-Mart near our home and saw large signs tossed about, one half driven into a dirt bank; steel fences twisted into pretzels; electric poles snapped like toothpicks. It was an F0 tornado, with winds of 70 miles per hour. It had skipped about, snapping large trees into pieces and damaging several houses, as well as creating the damage to the shopping area. It was just a baby twister, and luckily no one was hurt.

The unseasonable warm weather is gone now–swept away by this last storm of too long a year of storms–and it’s very cold. I don’t mind so much when I get a visit from my robins.

A Shy Bird


Catching up

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Catching up on all my reading:

Scoble has dropped his subscription to Burningbird because I don’t provide full feeds. That’s okay Robert: I think I would rather not be read then to be skimmed quickly: fitted in between this meeting and that tech dinner.

I thought about this and realized I don’t write posts that skim well. I’m just as likely to start a post out about my cat, but finish on some esoteric bit of semantic web nonsense. I am an oblique writer; I drag all my readers through everything that’s of interest to me regardless of a topics of interest to them (you). Tech people get cats, cat people get tech, and you all get pictures.

On the other hand, Dave Winer has a good point in that if I’m not going to provide fulltext, I should provide meaningful excerpts rather than the ‘first so and so characters of the post’. I can agree with this and will attempt to do this in the future.

Of course, I always see the excerpt as yet another place to extend my creative urges…

Jeneane Sessum asked for opinions on commenting options, and received some good feedback. I like my approach: successful commenter’s email address enables them to comment freely; others go into moderation; comments are closed at 20 days. No muss, no fuss, no problems.

I’ve also decided to take a hands off approach to my comments. If someone is trolling, we can learn to ignore them. If folks want to get into strong disagreements, it’s between the parties — I’m not going to intrude. I’ve found in the past that when I do intrude, most of the time it just makes it worse because I’m not letting the folks work through the disagreement out on their own–and insulting them in the bargain. The only comments I’ll delete are ones that I feel are sp*m and ones that are so off-topic and deliberately harmful, that they might as well be sp*m. I won’t shut down comment threads either because of ongoing discussions–that’s only another form of intrusion.

I also thought about removing my ‘edit’ feature, but I like being able to clean up my comments and feel you all do, also. What I am thinking of doing is annotating any comment that’s been edited with a small line of text at the bottom that reads: “This comment has been edited”.

Back to catching up:

Happy Tutor writes about using humiliation as punishment and a case where a thief is required to wear a “I stole mail” sign:

But the good news really is that shame and humiliation can be imposed without a court. Satire is judge, jury, and executioner. Our noble trade is fully in the spirit of the times: Brutal. Branding is not restricted to products.

Sometimes that man is too damn smart for our own good.

Speaking of satire, I love finely crafted satire but it is a chancy art. I dabble in it, from time to time, with both visual and verbal offerings. The Happy Tutor is acknowledged master of the art of satire, and the Better Bad News folks hit the target time and again. Of course, no one is better than Jon Stewart, but we do what we can.

Including a new site, pointed out in my comments by zo: Go Flock Yourself: beta:(My mistake on pointing to this site–some people just like to wear hoods and burn things just to see them burn.)

Moving on….Noded has the best reaction to Michael Brown actually starting a consulting business for disaster planning.

Microsoft, bitch slapped by the state of Massachusetts for being all proprietary, has decided to see the standards light and release all of it’s Office formats to ECMA for care: feeding of. (What, has ECMA become the trash compactor of the spec world?) Tim Bray said why not support ODF (OpenDocument)Dare Obasanjo responded with pot calling and kettles named “Atom”; Tim responded back with apples and oranges. and sticks.

Look, I have the perfect solution: use RDF. Sure, we can convert ODF to RDF; we can convert Office XML to RDF. It’s not only a standard now, but your office format would be inter-operable with dozens of other specifications already in use. More than that–all parties involved really dislike RDF; a shared mutual sense of loathing is a good first step in forming an alliance.

See, you need a woman involved in these discussions to get to the heart of these matters; to see the crystal clear path amid the dark, old, and crusty biases.

Speaking of matters, I’ve just realized that 2/3’s of my subscriptions in Bloglines haven’t been updated in a very long time. Either I am subscribed to the wrong feed, Bloglines is missing updates, or a lot of people I know have quit weblogging. If the latter, too bad, really, because I miss the melody and it seems lately all I’m hearing is a lot of tubas with an occasional flute.

And now is a good time to drop in another Zoë photo! Zoë says use RDF…or else.

alt=”Hard Day Cleaning” width=”500″ height=”333″

(Warned you: esoteric semantic web nonsense, and a cat picture.)

Just Shelley

Lost autumn

I lost autumn this year. It was just beginning here in St. Louis when I went to Idaho, and just ending when I got there. When I returned to St. Louis, most of the leaves were gone from the trees. It’s rather interesting how disorienting this can be. If you watch Firefly, it reminds me of my favorite episode, Out of Gas, when Mal wakes after passing out from being shot. In his mind, he’s hearing voices from the past; as he gains consciousness and becomes more aware, they’re overlapped and eventually merge with the quiet conversations of the people in the room.

My hosting company will be upgrading us again to PHP 4.4.1, but I’m prepared. When I learned that the other Wordform sites had no problem, I knew the culprit was the aggregator desktop plugin I was using; I’ve since deactivated it.

While originally unnerving, the incident was helpful in the long run. It reminded me that I need to create a port routine from Wordform back to WordPress for the other users. After all, I may suddenly shuffle off this mortal coil, or move to a tropical island without wireless or something someday. I also have to decide if I want to continue with Wordform or consider a way of building all my various modifications into extensions and plugins that can run on WordPress. I like the independence of my own code base, but things happen and I may not always be around to handle sudden upgrades to PHP. Besides, there are some cool kids using WordPress — how can I deprive them of the fruits of my genius?

I also turned 51 last Friday. I was going to write that I don’t feel it, but realized that yes, right at the moment, I do. Which means now that the weather is cool, and the biting, stinging beasties are in hibernation, and the humidity down, I have to get off my doofus. After all if we, you and me, are going to dance and walk and talk all night and toast the Texas sunrise in the proper manner–with margaritas and brass– at SxSW, I have to get prepared. I’m too young to feel old.

But you knew I’d say that.

I am become rather dull lately.

You knew I’d say that, too.

I have to focus on work, and will be posting lightly.

Yup, yup — you saw that coming, too.

I need to get back out on to the trai–stop, don’t even need to complete that sentence.

You know me too well. The blush is off the bloom, the mystery is gone. We’re like an old married couple you and I–just before the affair.

But at least I didn’t write about Goo…uhp! That did it.

Technology Weblogging


Last night my host installed the PHP 4.4.1 upgrade, which promptly broke my weblogging tool, Wordform. Broke it to the point where the admin pages don’t load in any form, and no error is given in my logfile or in the system error log, and without any form of feedback, debugging is rather complicated. My host backed out the 4.4.1 upgrade temporarily but I’m having them reload it. I can’t have the entire server be insecure because of my application.

There has been discussion on 4.4.1 and impact on other applications, though the environment is a big factor. I wondered if the underlying code from Wordform, which is a fork of WordPress, was impacted. However, others who have been upgraded on other servers and running WordPress are working, so it is something unique to my fork. Knowing this does give me somewhere to start and appreciations to those who sent me emails to that effect.

The security issue and the upgrade release happened the end of October and I haven’t kept up with new issues in PHP since I’ve been out of town so I wasn’t prepared. That happens sometimes.

I wouldn’t pursue a fix so strenuously if only my weblog was impacted but a couple of friends are also using my tool, so I’m researching the issue and trying to find a quick solution. If it was just myself I wouldn’t be that worried. I figure my forced downtime would probably delight many of you who have felt I’ve been too critical of your companies and your software and even yourselves, and there is a nice irony in the situation. I can even join you in this delight: the biter gets bitten; how wonderfully circular–so very ouroboros. So consider it an early holiday gift from me to you. Hopefully, for my friends using Wordform, it will be a short holiday.

Good news for my friends: their applications of Wordform are fine so it is my experimentation that is breaking, not the underlying application. At least they’re not impacted, which relieves me considerably.