Weblogging Feb 6 2002

I am in a very fey mood tonight.

(In the background, running feet, slamming doors, the sound of people crashing through windows, screams of terror)



Well didn’t we throw the orange kitty into the little flame today, hmmm?

I’ve been picking on some of my favorite webloggers this week. I don’t know why I do it. This evil little impulse just steals right in and takes over my body and makes me do these things I don’t want, and I hear voices, and I get these strange, exciting thoughts, and I think I’m in a crystal bowl of orange jello with little green sprinkles, and Ed McMann is talking in the background, when all of a sudden I see in front of me….

Wait a sec. Wrong movie.

Anyway, to make up for the fact that I’ve been picking on my favorite webloggers, I’ve got a treat for you: Shaggy Dog stories.

If you’re a fan of Isaac Asimov, then you’re familiar with these. I love short stories, and I love shaggy dog stories. I found a few places with some stories I thought I would throw out for your amusement, if you have the time and the inclination:

Stories Group 1
Stories Group 2
Stories Group 3


As many posts as I’ve done recently, I should be nominated for weblogging’s poster girl.

Well, a project I was on is falling apart, and I’m finding that i’m relieved about it. It was incredibly stressful. Though I can’t afford the loss of the money, I’ll trade it for the peace. Some things just weren’t meant to be.


What’s fun

Yesterday in a posting, I planted the seeds of analogy and today we’ll watch them spring forth as fully bloomed metaphors.

Mike throws another thread into the void with a discussion about why we blog. The posting is somewhat based on Dvorak’s article, but it also takes a closer look at what we mean when we say the word “fun”. We weblog because it’s fun, but what is fun? Is it, as Mike says, not the same as pleasure?

What is fun. Might as well ask what is life and receive as many responses.

Mike defines fun as watching a game or riding a roller coaster. I agree, but take it one step further: if you consider that life, with its heights of pleasure and depths of pain as one big roller coaster that you can ride only once, then all of life is fun. Calling our singular journey through time “fun” doesn’t demean or lessen the value of the experience. Instead, it invites one to see the fear and the joy and the laughter that is tangential to the trip.

Yesterday I talked about my walk among the dog people, and my observations of the dogs as they enjoyed the beach, the water, and the company (canine and human).

I talked about the black lab that would bring me her ball to throw and then take it away before I could grasp it. In this process she was inviting me to share her wonder, her special moment, her fun, as we invite others to share ours, in our weblogs and in our lives. I tease the world to laugh with me, to play with me, as this dog teases her owner and willing participants such as myself with her ball.

The Jack Daniels barked at the mighty ocean with all the confidence in the world that it could move those waters back and return his friends to him. There are no impossible challenges to a dog, just as there are no impossible challenges to those who are determined on a course that they must and will follow.

The mountain climber climbs the peaks because they are there. The singers sings because the melody must be heard. The writer writes because the words demand to be read. There is a need in our lives to find our unique challenge within each of us, and then meet it. When we are successful, when the waves roll back, then we throw our arms open and embrace the air. And it is fun — the highest peak of the roller coaster.

The Boxer would dash into the water again and again in its quest to capture the stick thrown by its master. Left unchecked the dog would literally drown in its drive to find what was thrown. A simple goal for the dog, but no less intense than the drive that leads us to find cures for illness, the secrets of the Rosetta stone, whether there is life on other planets, the meaning of God, the meaning of Life.

Is it too much of a stretch to call these purposeful and intense actions fun? Perhaps. But if the roller coaster’s intensity is one factor leading to the fun of the ride, than would I be wrong in equating the intensity of purpose and drive to one aspect of the fun of living? Is that a trivialization? Or is it really more of a simplification?

My favorite of the dogs was and will always be the red Doberman. That she singled me out on the beach to approach. That she sat beside me. That she leaned into me with such open trust. When we reach out to others, in person, or via the threaded void that is the weblogging and the Internet, we also put a measure of trust in those who receive the message. Will they shy away? Will they reach back? Will real affection result, or is the contact as ephemeral as the medium used to transmit the message.

When I write this, I am very much like that red Doberman, except that I’m approaching 2 people, 10 people, 100 people asking them to let me sit beside them at this moment, to lean against them, to share a moment together. And in that moment is companionship and contentment, perhaps the smoothest and most velvet form of fun there is.

There are no right or wrong answers to the question of what is fun; the answers will be as individual as the people. I do know, though, that it will be fun to hear what each has to say.


Google Programming Contest

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’ve had a chance to look at the source and the data files for the Google Programming contest. In the last several years, I’ve spent so much of my time tweaking sites for business use — better use of the database, better security, better architectural design, better use of Internet technologies, or using other new technologies.

With the contest I’m faced with the type of challenge I haven’t had in a while — pure algorithmic programming. This is a great reason to give the contest a shot, if for no other. Developers should stop and work on pure programming challenges from time to time, to keep these down to the metal programming skills at peak.

Sure, the whole thing is a cheap way for Google to get programming expertise and buzz, but participants also get something in return — an interesting problem, and a chance to exercise the little gray cells, to quote a mystery figure.

Besides, who else is going to work the buzz better than the greatest buzz meister of all — Google?