Photography Travel

Clark Fork

My mother is anxious for me to see all of the beautiful places she’s discovered. By the time I return home, I’ll be ready for a good long rest, tweaking the A-listers and writing code.

Today I headed the opposite direction and drove just out to Clark Folk about 29 miles away. Unfortunately, the day was so beautiful that I ended up following dirt roads hither and yon. What’s the good of having a rental car if one doesn’t make full use of it?




In the town of Clark Fork, I passed a little gift shop and didn’t pay it much attention until I noticed that the sign that said they sold marbles. Marbles? I pulled in and spent a wonderful hour looking through the shop at all the odds and ends, including marbles and antique bikes, and talking with the owner. I took photos of her store, and she gave me several sample marbles, imprinted with logos with cute little wood stands. I asked about the hand crafted marbles, and she picked out one of her favorite marbles and brought it and me out into the sun so I could see it. It was called “Fire and Ice”.

Did I buy it, of course I bought it. Fire and Ice, how could I not buy it. My excuse is that it’s my birthday next week, but I needed the color; I would have bought it even if I didn’t have a handy excuse. And no, my plane ticket is purchased, so I won’t be forced to hitchhike home.

But no more cute little gift shops.

Just Shelley Photography Places

Nostalgia: Reversed

Nostalgia doesn’t fit a reverse chronological format, so I’ll refrain from indulging in sweet stories of pig-tailed cherubs wearing gingham, skipping about in the late afternoon sun. I did enjoy my trip to my hometown after these many years, but it didn’t seem all that much different than the towns I visited in Missouri, or Vermont, or Arizona, or any other of the states in which I’ve lived. My mom enjoyed the photos I brought back, though, so that’s a goodness.

Kettle Falls hasn’t changed much. Any new development tends to be along the highway rather than through main street. The only change was the addition of a median with trees down the street. Oh, and to shame big city libraries, this little town’s tiny little library offers free wireless.


The old grocery store was still standing but, like most of the businesses, closed. I spent many a penny on candy in that store during its time. When I was about a year old, my mother had gone into the store leaving my brother and me in the car outside. My brother released the brake on the car and managed to hit another car before we stopped.

Hodgkiss Grocery Store

The old Assembly of God church I attended is now painted a bright blue and is a union hall; I imagine the union workers are timber company employees. Timber is still the big trade item in the area, though the old saw mills are gone and the new ones burn ‘cleaner’. Not so clean, though; I saw too many dead fir trees, most likely killed by acid rain.


When I lived in town, I and a friend used to climb Gold Hill, which formed one side of the main bypass highway. In my mind, I remembered it as steep and rather expected it to be less rather than more. However, my childhood memories do not lead me false–it is a steep hill, and a tough climb. Yesterday, I could barely climb the road much less the hill.


And Ralph’s is still Ralph’s. Every town has a Ralph’s, and while Ralph’s lives, the town still exists. If you grew up in a town like my hometown, you know what I mean.


In the country outside of town, the road to my old house hasn’t changed much. A few more homes, but the area is part of the Colville National Forest system, which has kept growth down. I stopped at the old bridge crossing the Colville river as it made it’s way to the Roosevelt. This is about two miles from my old home, and hasn’t changed even a little in 40 years.


I followed the old dirt road below our old house, where I spent most of my time growing up. How odd to see the land more wild than when I was a kid. Along the sandy shore next to the Roosevelt lake, I noted footprints: skunk, deer, and dog. It was the dog that sent me back to my car: dog prints without a matching human are never a good sign.



I almost passed the house I lived in until I was nine. My old science teacher bought it from us, and his widow still lives there. Sometime in the last few decades, they moved the driveway from the right side of the house to the left, took out the fruit trees, and cleared the forest behind the garage. It’s the same garage I almost burned down when I played with matches as a kid. I’d post a photo, but it’s a garage and posting a photo of a garage exceeds acceptable sentimentality. So I’ll just post a photo of the house, instead.


There was an nice looking, sightly older man mowing the lawn when I pulled up, and I asked him if I could take photos of the house, as I used to live there once. I identified myself and he offered to get his mom, but I didn’t want to disturb her. When he said ‘mother’, I asked him if he was my brother’s friend Mike, astonished to see the mature man where last I’d seen a teenager. He was visiting from his home in Hawaii, of all places. He was one of the many Mikes that were all of an age (it was an uncommonly popular name). Odd thing is, all the Mikes that moved away, lived, all the Mikes that stayed, died before 25.

I missed getting a picture of the sign leading into the town– Kettle Falls: 1255 friendly people and one grouch. Oh, in case you’re wondering, yes, I’m sure I’m related to the grouch.

It was interesting seeing the place, but I felt no connection with the area. As they say, you can’t go home again.



Always in Alt

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

In a post titled Passion is Blind Kathy Sierra discusses passionate users, double-standards, and forgiveness:

But there’s no getting around it–we all have double standards. We are all cutting one side some slack while holding the other to our ruthless, concrete expectations. And of course we will all screw up. We aren’t perfect. Neither is our software, our hardware, our service, our support, our employees, our policies, our products and services and ideas. But that’s the beauty of passion–if you can inspire it, by helping your user kick ass–they WILL cut you some slack. They’ll forgive you when you screw up.

To demonstrate her point, Kathy uses the now legendary support that Apple customers feel for the company, as compared to Microsoft customers.

It is true that it seems as if Apple can do no wrong, and Microsoft do no good. In fact, the unstable nature of Windows and the ‘blue screen of death’ is a standing joke in the industry. However, I imagine if there were as many Mac users as Windows users, we would hear the sounds of dissatisfaction about Apple just as loudly. In fact, from the anger expressed by many about the new Nano iPods, Apple doesn’t necessarily have the same ‘free’ ride it has enjoyed in the past. Apple is not as successful as Microsoft, but it successful enough.

How does a company get a break from its users? It’s easy: all they have to do is stay small, or appear to stay small; personalize the company so that being critical of a product is equated to being critical of a person or a group of people; most importantly, create a feeling of being an insider by being a customer–all the cool kids have iPods, you know.

(Personally, all the really cool kids have super-cheap iPod rip offs, and use the money they save to buy more music.)

Does this all then mean that there’s a double-standard in play because we’re critical of Microsoft where we’re not of Apple? If both companies delivered the exact same products, possibly, but both companies don’t deliver the same product. True, Apple and Microsoft both deliver an operating system–but the claims they make for both differ dramatically.

Apple promises to provide an environment in which you can add and remove devices and rarely have to worry about configuration; that’s simple to use and easy to maintain; that doesn’t have some of the performance issues associated with fragmented disk space and so on. The company can make these promises because it provides much of the hardware as well as the software, and in this environment, it’s easy to follow through on the claims. It is the hardware that allows Apple to shine, and which sets itself apart from Microsoft.

Apple focuses as much of its effort on design as it does engineering–knowing that people are easily swayed by smooth corners and sexy slim lines. Someone, somewhere thought, “Let’s put a lighted Mac logo on the back of all our notebooks”, so that a seeming sea of blinking apples face us out of conference after conference, even though in the beginning most notebooks probably weren’t Apple (but that changed, as all the cool kids etc.)

All in all, Apple promises what it can deliver. Apple promises to be easy, and it is; Apple promises to be sexy, and it is. What Apple doesn’t promise is what it can’t deliver: to be a cheap, reliable work horse.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is a company that makes claims based on its weaknesses, rather than its strengths. It makes grand promises about security, and thus virtually guarantees being a target; releasing, on average, one new security bulletin a week. It brags about reliability, when the operating system has to work on devices that range from the powerhouse to the puny. It seeks to win over business based on the stability of its products, and just when developers had created a wealth of applications in one environment (COM, DCOM, and COM+), it abandons it and the developers in favor of something completely new (.NET).

To be blunt: Microsoft has a corporate death wish, but will never be allowed to die and will, instead, thrive. This rather astonishing contradiction is based on the fact that the Windows operating system is about as ubiquitous as the common cold; the kicker is the reason it’s so ubiquitous is that Microsoft makes promises it can’t keep. Soooo, Microsoft gets slapped, true; but it gets slapped all the way to the bank.

Saying there’s a double-standard, then, when people complain about having to re-boot a Windows laptop, as compared to having to re-boot an Apple powerbook implies that both systems are focused on the same audience, and based on the same promises. It ain’t no such thing.

And this leads us to the second example Kathy uses in her post: she also references the past discussion that occurred when Phil Ringnalda noticed the sponsored links at the O’Reilly web sites, and when I brought up the sponsored links at my own site:

But sometimes our double-standards bite us in the ass and we’re forced to face it, as Phil Ringnalda did a few months back. When O’Reilly appeared to have search-engine-gaming ads, Phil slammed him in this blog entry. But when his friend Shelley Powers does it, the conversation got very interesting. It was fun (and impressive) to see Phil acknowledge and wrestle with the ambiguity of it all.

True, Phil is my bud–and not just because he has a great way with a rant. But was he indulging in a double-standard because he was critical of O’Reilly for sponsored links but not as critical of me? If he had continued being as unevenly critical, yes. In the end, though, as discussion on the topic brought about a deeper understanding of the issues, I think he was equally disappointed with both of us, but my cat, Zoë, won him over to the dark side.

In the end of her post, Kathy writes:

So, we have to ask ourselves… what can we do to put ourselves on the side of forgiveness? What can we do to help protect us from the times when we will screw up? What would it take in our product, company, service, whatever — to get users to have a glass-half-full attitude about whatever it is we do? If “rebooting” is a metaphor, I’d rather be Apple than Microsoft.

As a developer I try not to make mistakes, but when I do, I fix them. I would hope that ‘forgiveness’ never enters the equation, as forgiveness implies an emotional context, and what does code have to do with emotion? As for my site, what can I do to put myself on the side of forgiveness? I can do nothing, because I promise nothing.



I missed the heron today, but managed to get photos of two birds enjoying my mother’s flowering crabapple tree.

A flickr:


And a cedar waxwing:


Coming back from my old house at Kettle Falls, a mile along the road I spotted a bald eagle on a branch hanging over the road. I screeched to a halt and grabbed the camera to get a photo, but he had taken off. All I could get was this blurry photo of the beautiful bird, in flight.


And what the hey, I’ll throw in a furry mammal because it’s cat Friday.