Categories
Writing

Media Mailed

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Tonight I sent off the books for those of you who emailed me your addresses. The UPT is in boxes, and the Practical RDF is in bubble envelopes. Zoë helped me pack the books, so you’ll know which ones are from me by whether they glow in the dark or not.

Just kidding — Zoë’s radiation does not rub off on inanimate objects. Not unless she were to pee on your books. I can assure you that if my cat peed on your book, I would not send it. Well, not without drying it, first.

I got a very good deal on envelopes and boxes at our local Office Depot, and the Media mailing rate is incredibly low. All total, mailing the Practical RDF books came to about 3.00 each and the UPT to about 5.00. Since I would rather not have 3.00 and 5.00 charges on Paypal (of which I believe it would take 1.25 anyway), instead I’d like you to consider donating some canned goods or money to your Humane Society. If you would prefer, you can also donate to another charity, or drop it into the tin of a really good street performer. Or you can have a good cup of coffee and a PB & J sandwich, on me.

Then, if in my journey late summer, my odyssey through the States and beyond, I come into your area and you want to buy me a beer, well, you’re on.

Speaking of the little princess, she’s happily home and has spent the last several hours exploring every last bit of the town-home, climbed into boxes, snuggled, ate, snuggled, played, and snuggled some more. She hasn’t slept once. I did a little research and found out that if we hold her close for three hours a day, the amount of radioactive exposure we’ll experience is 3 mrem/year–an increase of 1% over normal radiation doses we experience from the sun and other sources. This is supposedly equivalent to drinking one cup of coffee or one diet soda per day. We have decided to snuggle Zoë the 3 hours and do without one can of soda or a cup of joe a day.

It was a surprise to hear, though, that coffee and soda add to our radiation exposure. I wonder if Starbuck’s is managed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission? Further research shows that drinking coffee shortens our lives an average of six days. If you think that’s bad, did you know that if you eat 40 tablespoons of peanut butter, one after the other, you’ll die of aflatoxin poisoning?

All in all, I’ll take my chances with Zoë.

Categories
Critters outdoors Photography

In praise of lurking

Yesterday, when out walking I came upon a group of deer, including a young male who was using fallen trees to break off parts of his antlers. Luckily, this time I had a camera and could get pictures–including the male who alternated aggressive behavior toward the does, with insecure wariness of me.

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The males with their antlers and full, proud stances may make for better photos, but I hold the quiet, shy does in my heart. Their soft, sweet eyes and careful curiosity has accompanied me on many a trek through Powder Valley. Sometimes when I walk at dusk, I can feel them all around me, hidden in the shadows. Yesterday, though, for whatever reason, when I stopped and held very still, they entered and crossed the road around me–appearing back-lit by the setting sun, in a display of beauty and grace.

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I have found if you wear sunglasses, deer will approach you more closely than if wearing clear lenses or no glasses at all. I think it’s because they can’t see your eyes, and they translate this into not seeing them. I have had deer, wild deer, approach within feet of me when wearing sunglasses.

My favorite interaction, though, is when the deer will remain in the bushes and when you look at them, they’ll hide their faces quickly behind a tree. They think they’re hiding from you because they can’t see you, but their entire bodies are out in the open: torso, legs, and especially, white tail. If you wait just a minute, they’ll peek back and when they see you still looking at them, back their head disappears behind the tree again.

It is humorous and endearing, but also a little sad.

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I can empathize with the deer; to be in the woods and thickets and looking out, knowing, or think we know that we’re not seen.

My desk at home is in front of a set of screened, double windows on a second floor on a hill overlooking a large section of our housing complex. Sometimes during the day after I’ve had my shower, I’ll sit in my chair at my computer, naked, water falling from my wet hair, slipping down my back and across my breasts.

I’ll watch cars drive by, the mailman on his rounds, and people walking their dogs or going to the laundry room, and know they can’t see me sitting here, in my chair, in the shadows.

Of course, at night or very early morning, before the sun has risen, I can be sitting in front of my window with the lights on and be just as back-lit as the deer yesterday. When I start to get undressed for bed, I look over my shoulder just to make sure both windows are tightly covered. Even when I see they are, I undress and slip into bed quickly–not quite trusting the shadows I cast against the blinds. The only time I’ll open them at night is during a thunderstorm, when I can open the curtain and lay in bed, watching the light flashing against the rain blurred window.

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Writing is a little like being the deer hiding in the woods, or sitting naked in front a window on the second floor of a house on a hill. We may think we’re in control, and that we’re exposing just as much or as little as we choose. However, sometimes curtains open a crack, or the light falls just right and our shadows give us away.

There is something to be said for taking time to lurk–to pull back deeply into the dark and watch, rather than be watched. To be still, and just listen. To appreciate others dance in the sun.

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Categories
Writing

The Eagles have landed

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Today I finally found the eagles. I am both exhausted and exhilarated. I have photos, which I have to go through to see how many survived both the sunlight, speed, camera shake, and distance. When the five or so out of 300 have been found, I’ll post them and their story online.

In the meantime, O’Reilly has been trying out different publication business models, including a new type of book experience called Rough Cuts and publishing smaller works, online, for less money.

Rough Cuts are pre-production releases of books focused on new, and hot, technology while the book is currently going through final revision and production processing. You pay less money, download PDFs and also, hopefully, provide feedback for the final book. With this, O’Reilly hopes to get books on hot tech into the hands of the readers that much more quickly.

One of the books is Ajax Hacks, which I helped tech edit this last December. Lots of helpful tips and tricks when working with Ajax in this book. It’s this book that inspired me to dive, happily, into Ruby on Rails.

As for the short publications, yours truly wrote one of the first for O’Reilly, on none other than syndication feeds. Per Derrick Story at O’Reilly:

O’Reilly recently commissioned Shelley Powers, a specialist in technology architecture and software development, to create a comprehensive PDF document that would help webmasters manage their incoming and outgoing feeds. Shelley produced nothing short of a must-have reference for online publishers, titled “What Are Syndication Feeds.”

This eDoc, as O’Reilly has termed it, is focused primarily at those newly exposed to syndication feeds and needing to understand what they are, and how to use them. It’s not focused at developers; it is focused at end users, regardless of degree of technical experience. It also doesn’t cover any of the history or the politics, as folks newly introduced to syndication feeds don’t need to know about either of these. RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom are all featured.

I also noticed that O’Reilly used a bird for the colophon on the eDoc. Rather timely considering my recent successful quest for eagles.