Kicking was the operative word

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I hesitated to mention the “Whose Butt should we be kicking” panel at SxSW until I saw more detail on the session. Thankfully, Dru Blood provided a fairly detailed liveblogging of the event.

It was a mistake for SxSW to keep this session once the original panel broke up. There was a dynamic involved with the original participants that led to the subtitle: whose butt should we be kicking? I created the title of the panel, and saw this session to be controversial, provoking, and even a little confrontational. I, and I believe the original organizer of the panel, Dori Smith, saw this as a a true debate between strong willed women who disagree on the answer to the question: if we exist in equal numbers, why are we not seen?

It was never intended, at least from my viewpoint, to be a how-to. We have how-tos. We have them coming out of our asses and they aren’t making a difference. It was never about individuals, or how any one person could increase their visibility. Whose butt should we be kicking?–that’s not a how-to.

This is not a criticism of Blogher, because I got them involved in a replacement panel after the SxSW organizers expressed interest in it still continuing. The Blogher folks did a terrific job finding replacements, and the panel that was formed had a dynamic of its own–just not the same as that of the original group. This placed an unwelcome burden on the new panel members–ghosts of panel members past. Keeping the title was a mistake, because it implied debate, and the replacement panel didn’t have the dynamic for this particular debate.

Frankly, I’m not sure that this debate can ever happen. Not in weblogging. There isn’t enough marketing impetus to sustain a debate of this nature.


The heat rolled in from Texas

The weather has been extraordinarily erratic: hot, humid, and stormy followed by icy, dry calm, then back to hot, then cold, then back, until I’m exhausted. Seriously, if I wanted to live life alternating between stormy heat and cold calm, I’d date a guy with commitment issues.

We spent most of the weekend under a tornado watch, and the last of the dangerous storms finally look to be leaving the area. Behind them is the dry line, and the end of what could be one of the worse outbreaks of tornadoes to hit this area in a long time. Estimates put the number of tornadoes at over 100; with so many towns damaged, I’ve lost count. Three people were killed. (Update: Nine people were killed in Missouri.)

St. Louis wasn’t negatively impacted, other than flooding from the rain. It’s the Arch: keeps the storms away. (And all this time, you probably thought it was just a monument.) We have been lucky this weekend in that Saturday’s storms went to the south, and Sunday’s went north, splitting to either side of us. Not so lucky for other folks, though. Festus, Kansas City, Columbia, St. Mary, St. Gen, and so on — all have been hit.

Oddly enough, in the midst of the storms, we’ve had beautiful weather. Saturday morning was wonderful–sunny, warm, and though it had rained all night, not terribly humid. I visited the Botanical Gardens to see the first of the spring flowers and the last of the orchid show. Took photos, of course.

Yesterday, as I hovered over the radar at Wunderground, watching every red blob form, I used Lightroom to create a show of the some of the photos from the weekend; with spring flowers, ducks, cardinals, and park photos in the Flash show at Tinfoil Project. I also added a fade functionality to my JavaScript library I’m currently updating, and you can see the early effort to emulate the Flash fade effect (bandwidth intensive, requires JavaScript).

(Note that it most likely will only work with Safari, Firefox, and Opera at this time; I haven’t tested it on my Windows machine yet. This JavaScript library work is part of my new development efforts in PHP, Ruby, and JavaScript that will be housed at Tinfoil. When they’re finished, they’ll all be open sourced. )

I’ve also made a tweak to the Burningbird site design–just in the background. I like the shadow better. Really I can be so productive when a storm blows through. Oh, I don’t necessarily get work done–but I can be productive.

Work also continues in my very limited spare time to create the application that finds Flickr images in my pages, downloads the images, and then updates my content to reflect the new image file location (and removes the Flickr link). I have the part on downloading the files; just need to add the part to update the posts. Once finished, I’ll be deleting my Flickr account. I’ve already deleted my gmail account. Last to go will be Bloglines.

Have no worries on my use of such technology: I have not jumped on to the Web 2.0 wagon; I don’t plan on setting myself up in competition with Flickr. After all, I’m not seventeen, anymore.

I watched the Weather Channel most of yesterday afternoon and evening, and they kept referring to the storm as one of the ‘worst’ to hit the area, and discussed how ‘bad’ they were for the communities. Yet this morning I awoke to a perfect cool, spring day. From Friday to now, the daffodils have bloomed, and so has the magnolias, and especially the bird tree outside my window. All but the tallest trees have hints of green about their edges, and as for the critters, in the park on Saturday you could hear cardinals, mockingbirds, and red-winged blackbirds forming a surprisingly harmonious sound; my roommate saw a fox on his way to work not far from where we live; a bunny is hopping about on the lawn–whether it’s my old friend or a descendant, I can’t tell.

Storms in the fall strip the last of the dead leaves from the tree, to carpet the forest floors and provide home and protection for squirrels and other creatures. They knock the nuts down, to provide food. In the winter they bring snow, and if they bring in ice, they also take it away again. In the spring, they bring warmth and rain, giving new life. Storms are not ‘bad’; they are a price for life, like growing old.

Ah me, enough with my philosophy as I have much work to do since I spent the weekend hovering over the weather and walking in the park during the lulls. Some of my favorite photos from the walk I’ve attached to the end of the post. More on the storms at Technorati. Make sure to turn off the authority setting–there’s no one with authority in Missouri.

My favorite comment on the storms comes from LiveJournal:

so what if a tornado DOES hit and we all die tomorrow? At least I updated my livejournal.

All of which is my way of saying the witch didn’t come for us this weekend. Zoë was relieved; she didn’t want to play a dog in a basket.


Best Practices Scenarios

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There are just some things that don’t belong in a Best Practices Manual…

One investigator to another, as they slowly walk through the wreckage of a 747–bits of fuselage and bodies lying about: “Well the Best Practices Manual suggested that the pilot use the landing gear rather than attempt to land the plane on its belly.”

Two surgeons are bent over an operating table where a man lies, stomach exposed. The first surgeon begins to cut into the patient’s stomach. “Argghhhhhhh!”, screams the patient, who then scrambles off the table and runs away as fast he can, hand cupped over the bleeding cut. The first surgeon looks at the other, mystified. The other shrugs and says, “Well, the Best Practices Manual suggests anesthetizing the patient first.”

Once a dam is built, the Best Practices Manual says it needs to be maintained.

The architects of the new zoo were chagrined to read in the Best Practices Manual that it’s the animals that are put into cages–not the visitors. The architects will rectify the problems…as soon as they can safely leave the conference room.

Leon Moisseiff created beautiful bridges. Unfortunately, he ignored the Best Practices Manual, which said they should also be sound.

“This is the National Weather Service. A category 5 hurricane with a storm surge estimated to be 30 feet tall is approaching your area. We here in the weather room agree that the best practice would be that everyone in the path leave the area. But hey! It’s only a suggestion. Have a nice day!”

Tommy Joe, anxious to try out the new gun he bought neglected to read the Best Practices Manual. Later, the police agreed that if he had, he would have known not to look down the barrel of the gun to see if a bullet was stuck in the chamber.

The parachutist had just enough time to reflect on her folly in ignoring the Best Practices Manual and passing up the parachute folding class in favor of one on origami. Her parachute, folded into the shape of a graceful swan in flight, flapped like a dead, beheaded chicken for a minute before completely failing.

The Best Practices Manual suggests that all team members use the same system of measurement when building navigation systems.

In the year 2020, a small group of men and women land successfully on Mars. After a week of exploring the Red Planet, they load back into their landing craft and prepare to leave the planet. However, when the pilot tries to turn on the ignition, all that happens is a sputtering sound. They radio to Earth: “Houston, we have a problem.” The engineers of NASA are mystified until one, glancing through a manual, points out, “Best Practices says we needed enough fuel to get to Mars and back. We only loaded enough to get to Mars”. The room is quiet. Finally one engineer is heard to murmur, “Bummer.”