Monday, June 10, 2002

When My Dad Wakes Up Today

[April 10, 2002 -- Could I have actually written this TWO months ago? Seems like both two years and two minutes, since my dad died on 4.9.02 . We make taffy of time when we grieve and mourn -- we pull it, we stretch it, we yank it, make it salty with tears and then we let it snap back into place. The phone still rings these days and I slip ... thinking, "Hey, maybe it's my dad!" So, remember today, no matter how bad the traffic, how annoying your co-workers, how hot the weather, how boring the task, whatever else you are, you're alive! ]

When my dad wakes up today, the first thing he will notice is that he is dead. But he'll take that in his stride, because my mom will be cooking bacon downstairs and getting the coffee ready and these divine smells will keep him from worrying too much about it. He will dance a jig as he jumps out of bed, to realize he's got his young healthy body back. He'll pant with excitement to find a Life Magazine on his nightstand. It will be 1948 and he will be 30 and he'll be in Youngstown, Ohio long before they had a zip code of 44444.

He'll dance a "ain't I cute" happy dance in the mirror to look at his strong, lanky, 6'4" body all dressed up in a perfectly well-worn pair of red plaid flannel pj's, size XL, his boyish dark brown hair thick and devilish. He'll marvel at his graceful dancing feet, like a baby in a crib discovering his own new toes, ready to do their entrancing steps. He'll fly downstairs to grab my mom for an impromptu kitchen Lindy, cranking the post-war Big Band music on the kitchen radio and arching her backwards into a ballroom swoon, safe in his steady, strong arms.

She will say with a sexy sneer, "What the hell's gotten into you?" And if the frying pan weren't full of hot, greasy bacon, crisping up perfectly -- even she can't burn the bacon in heaven -- she would take the pan and give him a whack on the butt with it, but instead a swipe with the spatula will have to do. He will yank her by the apron strings reeling her towards him, into a big hug and kiss. She'll finally just give in and let him mess up her pretty make-up. But then back to business, she'll push him away. "Get out of here," she'll warn with a phony sternness. "Go get the kids."

He'll stop dead in his tracks to realize he even HAS kids. She'll point out the kitchen window to the yard -- a green heaven of wavy, windy, grass and flowers, daffodils blooming, bending down to bow to him, on a perfect spring morning. Jean and Bill will be 10 and 8 and mucking about in a mud puddle with sticks and leaves, fascinated with the tiny boat they've built. My dad will choke up to see this, but my mom will have none of this early morning lollygagging, pushing him out the door.

The screen door will slam with a happy familiar whack, and my dad won't miss that often ignored sound of home. Look at him grin. He will relish it, but not for long, because he'll nearly fall over his old retriever dog, who will shoot from stage left to see if he can upend this happy man. The dog's got the paper in his mouth, and every damned story is good news, one better than the next, but he'll have no time to marvel at it. He'll run to his kids and scoop them up, squeeze them so hard they'll whine, "Dad!" They'll roll on the grass in a mock wrestling match, the two of them unable to keep a good man down.

When he drags them in the house, my mom will see two kids covered in mud, and her husband up to the usual malarkey. "March," she'll order, pointing towards the bathroom. Dad will supervise the soap and make the thing bubble, splash and spill all over the bathroom, making a bigger mess than either kid could muster, much to their delight. They'll be in giggles and my mom will hear them playing. She'll serve up the fried eggs, over-easy, just right and the perfectly crispy bacon, the A&P coffee will be dark and rich, she's pouring it now. She'll take her apron off slowly, hang it on the hook, sit at the table primly, a shapely wise and wonderful brunette, suppressing a grin as she hears them horsing around. And with a yell, she'll begin a new day, "Get in here you ruffians!"

They'll come flying in a pandemonium of boyish, girlish crewcut and braids, grins from ear to ear, trying not to laugh. But where's my dad? Obviously planning an entrance, the kids can barely control their giggles. My dad will turn the corner now, all eyes on him suddenly. He's still his pj's but now sports a porkpie hat, and has a beard of bubbles, "Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!" he sings out. The kids run to swipe the bubbles off his chin.

"Cut that out. Get over here and eat your breakfast," Mom gives Dad her best scowl, makes her "no-foolishness" face. They sit down to breakfast, she passes my dad the biscuits. He deftly applies butter and honey. "Katie, my girl," he says, with a smile that can never stop, "I've died and gone to heaven."

Saturday, June 08, 2002

More Snow In Boston

[March 25, 2002 -- Well there's really NO snow today in Boston, but Rageboy just dropped me an email to ask who this brilliant blogger Heather Snow is. RB, she's a friend of mine -- if you ever read my darned blog you'd know all the cool brill chicks -- I told everyone about her last March! He's way excited about her posts at her own site and Blogsisters about women creating their own glass ceilings. Me too, it's excellent stuff. Check it out here and at Blogsisters. Blog on, Heather!]

Wait, I don't mean weather! Heather Snow's started a new blog and it's great! She does ecommerce writing and other stuff at MIT. Check her blog out here.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Kiss of Death

[As you know, this summer, my new blogging is over at BLOGSISTERS, and here at Halley's Comment I'm doing a retrospective of earlier posts. This was a post I did on January 15, 2002, while my dad was still hanging on by a thread. I remember looking at the IV's in my dad's arms and the song "I've Got You Under My Skin" was playing on the radio in the room that day. We do what we must. I was no angel of mercy -- many days I just didn't go to visit him in the nursing home because it was too damned depressing. My dad passed away April 9, 2002.]

My dad is dying. He's 83 and was shuffling along pretty well despite a very bad heart, until December 2 when he fell and broke his hip. He's been in and out of the hospital five times and in two rehab facilities in a month and the "happy holiday season" wasn't too much fun.

Some good came of it. A friend gave me this amazing book How We Die. Nuland writes poignantly about how most people long for two final scenarios — to die with dignity and not to die alone. Most Americans will not get either.

It is painful, sad and scary to go into these places (nursing homes) where so many people are so needy. They reach out for you, like kids left late at daycare.

My dad has dementia. Doesn't know who I am most days. I sit with him for as long as I can, just holding his scrawny hand, his skinny arm bruised from too many IV's. I play mind games to cheer myself up, to keep my half-full glass from emptying. As I sit there, I am now cataloguing every kiss I've ever received. I have received some excellent kisses and would like to acknowledge and thank all parties concerned.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Come Clean

[February 18, 2002 -- Wrote this as so many of our institutions were simulaneously crumbling this past winter. Interesting how we're worried about many other things three months later. We still are concerned about who's telling the truth, however and it's still hard to be sure who is and who isn't.]

Something's happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear ... We're watching the Enronians drop their pants (a few of them) and tell the truth about what was really going on. We're watching the poor pathetic guy who ran the crematorium in Georgia be forced to come clean. We've had it with hockey dads beating the shit out of fellow hockey dads and pretending they weren't. Enough with priests abusing little boys and being protected by their superiors. We've had it with lies. Come on, just come clean, tell me the truth!

My sisters and I used to watch To Tell The Truth when we were kids. We already knew TV sucked, so to make it more interesting, we mostly watched it upside down on the couch, our legs straight up on the back cushions, our heads nearly touching the floor, our braids flopping in arcs rugward, blood rushing to our 5, 10 and 12-year old heads. And even upside down, you could always tell who was telling the truth and who wasn't.

Saturday, June 01, 2002

Alright Already!

Yikes! Thanks for all the email! This going dark until September has rattled many cages. Everyone's asking me to come back to Blogsville in the kindest ways. Here's my revised plan.

At Halley's Comment this summer, I'll post "Greatest Hits" of my stuff from the archives that I want to repost. At Blogsisters, I'll post new stuff on an occasional basis.

Blogsisters, think of it as really juicy femail. Even better than email. I need to get down with my girl tribe and there's no better place to do that than Blogsisters. I posted there tonight. I just read a great piece over there by Jennifer Balderama, bloggeuse extraordinaire, on sex and pix, which links to a post on her site about how you just can't see enough men's penises in movies these days. True, true. Maybe we could go back and restore all the old films by cutting and pasting in the male member in critical places. Frankly, Rhett, I DO give a damn.

And can I take my hat off to Jeneane Sessum the mega-energetic creator of Blogsisters and her extra-great sidekick, Elaine of Kalilily fame. Jeneane, you are my super baller woman, go girl! Elaine, you share the blood and guts female wisdom of all ages, but I must ask "Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?" (I think good.)

At Blogsisters, we're busy as heck. We women are reinventing how people will talk to one another in a brand new world — ALL people, men and women, old and young — and it's definately the coolest place to hang this hot summer.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

See You In September

I'll be alone each and every night
While you're away, don't forget to write

Bye-bye, so long, farewell
Bye-bye, so long

See you in September
See you when the summer's through
Here we are
(bye, baby, goodbye)
Saying goodbye at the station
(bye, baby, goodbye)
Summer vacation (bye, baby bye, baby)
Is taking you away (bye, baby, goodbye)

Have a good time but remember
There is danger in the summer moon above
Will I see you in September
Or lose you to a summer love
(counting the days 'til I'll be with you)
(counting the hours and the minutes, too)

Bye, baby, goodbye
Bye, baby, goodbye
Bye, baby, goodbye (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
Bye, baby, goodbye (bye-bye, so long)

Have a good time but remember
There is danger in the summer moon above
Will I see you in September
Or lose you to a summer love

Halley's Comment is going dark until September 1, 2002. Thanks to everyone for reading my blog.
xon xoff --- H

The Cure

I remember asking John Perry Barlow once what he would do it he were suddenly to become a woman. He didn't hesitate, looked straight at me like it was obvious, "Get a pedicure of course!" I'll take his good advice today. Make sure not to miss Doc's link to the interview with the former cattle rancher and Grateful Dead lyricist.

David, Here You Go Again

Dr. Weinberger, another backhanded compliment!! Telling me how outstanding my writing's been lately, but then reminding me by email that my permalinks and template are all screwed up!!! This is worse than telling me I'm normal, not wild and wonderful like Rageboy!

I don't want to be praised as a fine writer — I want the world to know me as a super-geek!

[Okay, okay, just kidding, I accept the compliment graciously and I'll get off my lazy butt and go noodle around with the inscrutable link problem.]

U of Blogaria Faculty AField

I can see the faculty of the University of Blogaria was definately making the most of the Memorial Day Weekend. AKMA is talking about forgiveness, me too below at Err=Human, Forgive=Divine.

The Professor of Hyperlinked Studies, Dr. Weinberger seems none too interested in hyperlinking with Mother Nature. Doctor, please watch out for all that dangerous pointy gravel. But don't miss all the rainbows, see below.

The Clued Professor of Micro-Journalism and Women's Studies, Jeneane Sessum, is doing wonderful blogging on love, life, vulnerability and excellent recall of her esteemed colleague, Ms. Helene Cixous.

And Herr Doktor Locke's field studies continue in the field of Priapic Ideation. He's boning up on the vagina ... so to speak and visiting train stations, or was that train tunnels?

Monday, May 27, 2002

Memorial Day Grave Dance

In Concord, on Main Street at the corner of Frye, there's a very old graveyard. The stones are not bleached white but rather black and worn away to nubs, like an old man's really rotten teeth. We share the grassy stretch with another family. Their 4-year-old girl is lurking in a happy stealthy game, behind the thin black stones, just hiding her perfectly from her mom as she and the gravestones match heights. She's grinning and leaning against the shelter of cold black stones on a warm evening. Her brother, around 3 years old, is in one-piece jumpsuit pj's and jumping all around. The mother can barely keep after the little boy, but does a good job of chasing his gyrations. The father is rather solemn, looking at veterans' graves, now long gone. He is thanking them under his breathe. His body knows something sad, remembers it perfectly. Many stones are hard to read, but you can read the gravity in his spine ... perhaps a father, a brother or a friend, now gone or fighting a good fight for us.

The daughter's long blonde hair makes me feel happy and alive. She's dancing on graves and I love her for it. I was a girl like that once, a little girl with blonde hair and a happy dance, made to remind people not to be so darned sad. A girl made to dance a thank-you waltz for now stilled soldiers beneath her lively feet.

There is a man there, right in front of me — born 1680, dead, 1735. There are many soldiers there — with hard-to-read birthdates, but death dates of 1774, 1811, 1864. There are flowers of red, white and blue and vets' gold stars on sticks and American flags. Today we all say thank-you and goodbye.

Netsuke, ojime, sagemono

Three lovely Japanese sisters are riding their bikes off the ferry at Provincetown the other morning we were visiting. I'm sitting in the car and can see to the extreme right the three of them stop on the road next to our car, adjusting their backpacks and fanny packs, one has a belt with a swiss army knife and other implements hanging off it. They look like they're getting ready for a day-long bike trip.

There's a sign blocking my view, which frames the scene even more tightly. As the first sister stops to balance on her bike and wait for the other two, I can see a perfect portrait of her muscular legs, pretty shorts and a her feet in flip flops or call them thongs, both feet and legs strained and stretched. The bike is too tall for her.

She has a lovely foot, fully arched, nearly 90 degrees to the road, as the lavender rubber thong lays completely flat on the road. Her calf, hard and strong, has that long thin dimple line as if someone's pressed a ruler along her leg bone from knee to ankle. She is shifting her weight from side to side, both feet barely reaching the ground, her feet more stretched than a Barbie doll's arches. Her other sisters are behind her and she turns impatiently looking to see what they're doing. Her feet teeter totter from side to side impatiently to keep the bike up.

I see them say something to one another, the middle sister smiles, comes up close to the first sister. She's got black and white sneakers on with thick white rubber soles, no socks. She bends quickly to undo them, her hair tumbling down. I wish they weren't wearing western clothes. They have lovely black straight cascading hair and the girls would make a stunning portrait in traditonal kimonos.

With a swiftness, the first sister and the second swap thongs and sneakers. Ah, I see, the middle one has given the first sister just the extra inch of shoe she needs to take this journey comfortably. Now, they're off, all three girls down the road.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Err=Human, Forgive=Divine

The Cape Cod trip seems to have dislodged some old memories — they come crashing down, a bit like watching the polar caps give way, whoosh! My tears come too.

I'm thinking of my dad — a very young one, with my mom and oldest sis and bro, who would have been very young then too, in home movies and pix on various sandy beaches on big happy family vacations, which weren't happy, I know, in Virginia Beach and Cape Cod. They are smiling prisoners of Hallmark cards, trim and fit, handsome and pretty.

And at that young time in his life, early 20's, I marvel that he had responsibilties for a wife and two children and did his best to take care of them. But he was so NOT THERE so much of the time for all of us, both a simple fact of 1950's fatherhood and other extenuating circumstances.

And I ponder and hold tight to something wonderful in the world — that there may be just enough forgiveness for all of us — enough to go around the big family dinner table once and maybe even twice.

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Chatham Light

Late afternoon, at Chatham Light, my phone service is finally working again. It had pretty much failed for most of the beach at Truro and Wellfleet. I'm glad to be reconnected.

With the lighthouse behind me, I'm checking messages, smiling at friendly voice mails, but now I'm lagging behind at the top of the path and I see my husband and son below in the sand, like characters from a diarama, glued to the pretty beach scene. What a beautiful evening.

Near my head, a gull and another gull friend are suspended in the air, looking all the world like two remote control toys from Radio Shack in grey and white plastic. They are doing that lovely friction-free gliding on air jets which they navigate with complete ease, as if held up by a provident hand. With the beach so far below, they are at my eye-level only five feet away — they seem to be hanging there motionless in the stiff breeze, waiting to use my phone when I'm done with it. Sure guys, help yourself.

Hey, Is Cape Cod A State?

My son calls from the back seat as we're headed back to Boston, "hey, is Cape Cod a state?" I turn to look, it's dusk and I see a beautiful boy — he's sandy and sunburned a bit and happy as can be, and like a big brother looking over his shoulder, there's the most gorgeous moon, almost full, winking good bye from Hyannis.

Cape Cod a state, well, you could say, a state of mind, I think. But I give him the right answer instead — a part of the state of Massachusetts actually — this satisfies and soon we are home.

Avez-Vous Goutee Des Canneberges?

Et pour mes amies francais, un lien a propos de Wellfleet et la region de Cape Cod. Venez nous voir a Massachussetts. C'est chouette. Amusez-vous bien ce weekend. C'est un jour de conge lundi ici aux Etats Unis. Jean-Yves, ca va?

Friday, May 24, 2002

Must Read: Jeneane

Very interesting stuff from Jeneane's blog. She's quoting the French writer, Helene Cixioux on an idea she calls an "entredeux", simply translated as "between two" (worlds):

"In this case we find ourself in a situation for which we are absolutely not prepared. Human beings are equipped for daily life, with its rites, with its closure, its commodities, its furniture. When an event arrives which evicts us from ourselves, we do not know how to 'live.' But we must. Thus, we are launched into a space-time whose coordinates are all different from those we have always been accustomed to. In addition these violent situations are always new. Always. At no moment can a previous bereavement serve as a model. It is, frightfully, all new: this is one of the most important experiences of our human histories. At times we are thrown into strangeness. This being abroad at home is what I call entredeux. Wars cause entredeux in the histories of countries. But the worst war is the war where the enemy is on the inside; where the enemy is the person I love most in the world, is myself."

Off to Cape Cod Tomorrow

Off to Wellfleet in the morning. First time ever to Cape Cod, strangely, after living in Boston for two years now. And I don't believe I ever went when I lived here right after college either.

Conference Day Three

Okay David, you win the blogging war with your great conference coverage of Connectivity 2002. Here's another cool site, check out — Prashant Agarwal was blogging at the conference a few laptops away from me, they do a group blog on technology. Honestly, I spent more time out of the room meeting interesting attendees than inside the room. Thanks to Sarah Stirland, Jordan Cohen, Sy Yules, Chris Herot, Susan Cohen, Jennie Bourne, Patrick Ross for having a minute to chat and a handy business card.

It was especially fun to meet Jennie Bourne and David Burstein, who've authored a new book on DSL. Check it out.

The weather was glorious -- it was one of the most beautiful days we've had in Boston in a long time — just a lovely May day right on the harborside— nice day for watching the water taxis zip back and forth between downtown beantown and the hotel pier.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Wise Men Say

Got on a bit of an ELVIS BINGE today for some reason.

Wise Men Say
Only Fools Rush In ...
But I Can't Help Falling In Love With You.

Such simple perfect lyrics.

Take My Hand
Take My Whole Life Too ...

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Technically Speaking

This conference has a fairly technical orientation and we're about knee deep in acronyms. At night, the cleaning crew has to bring in specially designed vacuums to suck up all the ILEC's and CLEC's and DSL's and SIP's and ISP's off the floor -- they're lodged in the carpet. And there's a messy pile of 802's and 11's in the corner that just won't go away.

I was worried I wouldn't be able to "hack" it — that is, understand a single word — but something else is happening. Speaker after speaker suggests not a new complicated technology as a solution, but rather what we need is a new way of thinking about the problem, a new story, a new idea. Reminds me of a book I've been reading.

See you tomorrow.

Guilty As Charged

Dr. Weinberger is now truly taking me to task. Sorry, David, you're a terrific speaker, I wanted to hear more of you and less of the rest of us. Didn't I make up for it at lunch, giving my seat to Kevin Werbach, so you guys could sit together and chew the fat. Speaking of which, did you ever GET any lunch? They may have gone to Hartford to get your vegetarian lunch plate, what took so long?

Yes, my shotty coverage of the conference is an abomination. Thanks for working your fingers to the bone. But David, did you have to toss David Isenberg's underwear DIRECTLY at ME?

The immortal words of Gretchen Pirillo ring through my ears, "Mothers, don't let your boys grow up to be bloggers."

The Priest Weighs In

Getting lots of great email and posts from fellow bloggers, thanks guys. Doc notices we're having too much fun, as does Mary Lu.

AKMA, our Anglican priest blogger, ponders the deeper spiritual question mentioned on my blog today when he emails, "I can't help wondering WHERE those brownies were for the past week and a half."

My thoughts exactly, but then, some things are better left unsaid and unthought.

Big Dig Dessert and Dinner

My six-year-old son and husband just made me dinner — excellent treat. First they go to the D'agostino's Deli in Arlington Heights on Mass Ave. They have killer deli subs. The roast beef is so good on a long sub roll. And it's the best DEAL in town too — about $3.50 for a big sub.

Then they crossed the street and got a quart of BIG DIG ice cream at Brigham's. It's got chunks of chocolate asphalt, gobs of chocolate brownie slurry, caramel sauce rusty ditch water and vanilla snow drifts. They put big scoops of it on heart-shaped brownies they'd bought for Mother's Day but lost and then found again tonight.

Not Enough Diet Coke

I finally figured it out. The conference just doesn't have enough Diet Coke. That's why I've gone nutty. I've been unable to self-medicate today. I'll bring a case tomorrow.

Or maybe I really am Rageboy!

Professor Weinberger Takes Us To Task

Yikes, man! What gives?! I'm sitting there in the conference this morning, FOREVER, keen on hearing you speak and first, they let someone else from the afternoon speakers lineup go ahead of both you and Kevin Werbach, which kindof got on my nerves and then instead of speaking for an hour, you talk for ten minutes and then give us frigging homework! Holy Heck!

And may I add — you didn't even plug your god-darn book! David, David, David, racontez moi, mon vieux, qu'est-ce qui se passe? Qu'est-ce-que ca veut dire!? Je pige que dalle! Qu'est-ce-que tu m'enerve!?

Well, it certainly was more fun than visiting a sick person in a nursing home — but really, I wanna hear the book pitch, not break into groups and do an exercise.

I was in such a bitchy state, you won't believe what I did. And I was so rude to one of the guys in the group, even I was shocked. I interrupted him mid-sentence after about five minutes of his monologue on the RIAA saying, "You used all the words you're allowed to use. You have to STOP now. We need to focus. David will kick our asses if we don't come up with something fast."

To be fair, you have about 4000% more energy and zip as a speaker than anyone there today. You did get us going. And I kinda liked your red crayon-scrawly powerpoints — what font is that? So it wasn't terrible or anything, but wasn't what I was expecting. You know my attitude, "PLUG THAT BOOK, PLUG THAT BOOK!"

But you gave us a near impossible problem — explain to a senator what opportunity the US is about to miss if we can't get it together and create a ubiquitous, pervasive, robust global network infrastructure. Okay, okay, it was fun to talk to the other people in my group. But JesusChristAndChristmas, man, nobody TALKS to senators -- you bribe them or give them blow jobs! Isn't that the American Way?!

Beltway Schmeltway

First of all, I didn't realize Kevin Werbach was at the FCC before his current position as Editor of Release 1.0 w/Esther Dyson at Edventure. That came as a shock. I guess I didn't assume people make it out alive, once they enter such a "regulatorium" as Bob Frankston calls it, much less with the ability to write fresh prose and actually get things done. His talk was really interesting. David, per usual, has blogged majorly about it. Better than I can. It's also on Kevin's site at the link above.

I can sum up today's conference pretty quickly, and this is MY opinion, not the speakers — the FCC is one major Leviathan, an unruly monster with all the wrong ways of thinking about the Net, all the wrong classifications (Per Kevin's great presentation: they think of the whole thing in four buckets -- the wrong four buckets: telecom, broadcast, cable, internet. They should look at it in a whole new "vertical" layered fashion: content, applications/services, logical, physical. )

I still think the FCC's a big stinky monster in Washington, DC ready to eat any comers and I'm glad some people think it can change, doesn't sound like it to me. I think Kevin is right to say we need to dig in and change the regulatory laws over the next decade since this will affect building the infrastructure of the next century, but honestly, does the average Joe really want to spend the next 8 to 10 years pressing congress to draft new telecom law? Our man Joe is just trying to get a six-pack of beer in time to catch the game and figure out how to pay his alimony payments at the end of the month.

It's a perfect monster this FCC, because any normal person would rather run for their life when they see it, than enter the belly of the beast. It speaks to the big conversation — who runs his country (as it has always been) — lawyers, guns and money.

Biz Cards

I always get business cards at conferences and put notes on them to remember the people. Here's some of my notes: "Alan Webber look-alike" "Reporter Woman w/too quiet voice" "Lobbyist, but good guy" "R&D Brainy Lady, sat in front of me" "Wed Lunch guy, on the left" "Wed Lunch guy reporter, on the right past David" "Smart Gutsy Brooklyn-Accent Guy"

David, thanks for taking my picture, but if I were jotting down a self-description from the photo, I'd have to say, "woman in dark cave with straw hut hair."

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Connect The Dots

I just linked to my site from Rageboy's page and boy, it's confusing since there was no permalink. He's talking about Paris in the spring and romance. I'm talking about the FCC, Spectrum and Connectivity.

Anyway, if you're looking for Rageboy stuff, try "They Saw Us Dancing In The Gym" below on my blog here from yesterday.

If you want some stuff on the Connectivity 2002 conference today, see immediately below. I'm not blogging about everything, just a few things. I had to leave before David Isenberg spoke which I really regret, he's brilliant. But go check out Weinberger's site for more detail. He's doing a super complete excellent blog of the conference. I know, he was clickety-clacking like mad next to me in a most annoying fashion. I'm rethinking about whether I really like blogging during conferences. It kindof reminds me of people using their cell phones through dinner in restaurants. I hate that. It certainly is great for people who ARE not attending the conference.

The "I Don't Know" Network

Here's part of what David Reed was talking about today at Connectivity 2002. What if you made something really robust, that people could use to build a lot of things and you actually left them alone to build those things, making no assumptions about what those things would look like.

In fact, what if you made a network that was based on the idea that instead of arrogantly assuming you knew exactly what customers would do with it, how they would use it, what they would use it for and THEREFORE designing in "features" based on these assumptions — you designed it to play second-fiddle, to just be there behind-the-scenes and let others design applications at each end that served their needs. It made me think of a quotation I've always liked from Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.

"The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails." -- James Joyce

Really, think about it, designing an infrastructure that was agressively application neutral, as David Reed put it, and left that app part to others as a starting point for serious innovation — what kind of a network would it be? Perhaps inspired, and surely elegant, simple, and respectful of the contribution others would bring to the table.

And is there anything terrible, or perhaps something great about an engineer designing something and when asked what it will do and what it will cost and what it means, simply answering, "I don't know." Especially when he DOES know that he's creating something that will let others innovate and answer the "I don't know" question for him in a myriad of amazing ways.
This is part of what David Reed was discussing this morning, more soon.

David, What About Lunch?

David Weinberger's doing the most terrific blogging from Connectivity 2002 and while it seems he hasn't left a thing out, I have to mention, sitting with him, David Isenberg (, Joe Plotkin (, and me (halleyscomment) at lunch was the best — especially when Dan Bricklin ( came over and we started discussing what David Reed ( had said about the end-to-end argument.. David Reed really was worth the price of the whole conference. More on this soon.

Joe asked me what I did. I said, "I blog." He asked me what my blog was like. Hard to answer, so I asked David Weinberger who was sitting next to us to describe it, DW says, "All Halley All The Time."

Just Connect

Off to Jeff Pulver's Connectivity 2002 for the next three days at the Hyatt Harborside at Logan Airport here in Boston. Bob Frankston clued me into it. Check out the site.

There seems to be a proliferation of speakers named David. I used to think these high-tech conferences never had any women speakers because they were women. Now I get it, these conferences don't feature women speakers unless they're named David.

And BTW, what's with Vortex making Doc sign an NDA and not letting him blog. Give it up guys.

Monday, May 20, 2002

They Saw Us Dancing In The Gym!

Great Rageboy, thanks a lot --

I'm over at AKMA's site, minding my own business,
just trying to build some dinosaurs and you let
everybody know we used the Time Machine, already went
to Blogcon in Vegas next August, got married, flew to
Paris, had our honeymoon, but you wouldn't get your
LAZY BUTT out of bed and get me a few lousy croissants,
so I downsized you, we got divorced next year and now
we're back to May 2002 again and you just felt like
spilling the beans!

This is the last time I go trading brains at the U of
Blogaria prom, with the first guy who looks willing,
much less messing around with the Space/Time Continuum
with you behind the gym.

-- Halley

Have You Been Reading Jeneane Lately?

Get over there. Her posts about Kmart are the best — shopping there recently, shoplifting there a long time ago and later working there as their premier shoplifter-spotter. Wow! There are a few posts, so go back to Blue Light Special to start.

Sunday, May 19, 2002


Doc likes the way someone is finally getting the Blogs V. Big J Journalism paradigm right. It's not about one versus the other, it's about Blogs AND Big J Journalism as Scott Rosenberg's piece on blogs in Salon reasonably suggest. Thanks for the pointer. There's something insightful in the end of Scott's piece that I find even more important. Check this out:

But blogs can do some things the pros can't. For better and worse, they air hunches and
speculations without the filter of an editorial bureaucracy (or the legal vulnerabilities of a
corporate parent). They trade links and argue nuances, fling insults and shower acclaim. The
editorial process of the blogs takes place between and among bloggers, in public, in real time,
with fully annotated cross-links. This carries pluses and minuses: At worst, it creates a lot of
excess verbiage that only the most fanatically interested reader would want to wade through.
At best, it creates a dramatic and dynamic exchange of information and ideas.

I think the most significant issue is how bloggers PLAY together. What goes on in between blogs is one of the most unique aspects of this art form. We play, we visit, we tease, we hang out our laundry for the neighbors to see and they call back, "hey, who wears the bright red long johns?"

Scott gets the "in between" part of the medium, which is about much more than news or opinion. It's about community. It's about a ground swell of people saying we matter. If there's anything to say about the Blog v. Big J Journalism battle it's about the underlying assumptions of each. Bloggers are reminding Big J Journalism that people matter, we're powerful and we've been ignored, or worse, labelled "consumers" and allowed to subsist on a meager soup of watery editorial content while being force-fed advertising and advertorial slops.

Starting Up a Start-Up

While we're tap-dancing, brain-swaping and generally goofing around over here, Dervala's writing an incredible narrative of how she and her husband started Vindigo. It's really excellent. Don't miss it — Eat Shop and Play — from her blog of Friday 18 May 2002.

I remember the first time I saw Vindigo. I met Seth Godin for lunch in NYC in 2000 and he beamed it into my Palm. It was way cool.

BTW, Dervala's Irish and she writes some great stuff a few posts below this one about living in London, feeling a part of it, until some British girlfriends of hers over beers mention that if they were to marry some guy, of course, he'd have to have a nice big ... British passport. This helped her move quickly to New York City. She's a great writer.

Saturday, May 18, 2002

You're The Top

I'm currently hooked on Anything Goes again. In my car I've got equal doses of Elvis, Chris Isaacs, Michelle Shocked, Lefty Frizzell, George Brassens and Bonnie Riatt cranking, with occasional Yoyo Ma doing super sad Bach solo cello, but then I just can't get enough Anything Goes. Cole Porter was some incredible lyricist AND he wrote the music. Jeez.

You're the top - you're the Coliseum.
You're the top - you're the Louvre museum.
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss.
You're a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet, You're Mickey Mouse.
You're the Nile - You're the tower of Pisa.
You're the smile - on the Mona Lisa.
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop.
But if baby I'm the bottom, you're the top.

You're the top, you're Mahatma Ghandi.
You're the top, you're Napoleon brandy.
You're the purple light of a summer night in Spain.
You're the National Gallery,
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.

The story's simple — a 1930's jaded nightclub singer, Reno Sweeney (originally played by Ethel Merman, boy, I'd kill to hear that version) takes a cruise from New York to Southampton, England on a big cruise ship.

Actually, I just reread the plot and now I see it's insanely complicated. (Thanks to P.G. Wodehouse and his friends.) The best part is the gangster dressed up as a clergyman — Reverend Dr. Moon — he wears a priest's collar and carries a machine gun under his frock.

I mean I carry the machine gun — that is, I did in high school when I played Bonnie in the play and got to be his gun moll and right hand girl. It also meant I got to perform one of my favorite songs in the show — Heaven Hop.

Anyway, if you were wondering what all this blogging and connecting is REALLY about — it's clear to me. We're casting for one big travelling road show musical! AKMA as the Dr. Moon, Jeneane as Reno Sweeney, David Weinberger as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, Rageboy as Billy Crocker, Doc you can be the ship's captain. Get your tap shoes ready. Yes, we're coming to a theatre near you.

[BTW, this is my favorite version of all the available CD's.]

Friday, May 17, 2002

And In The End

All fun must stop! Seems to be a universal truth. After a wonderful morning meeting AKMA and Margaret, we were back to earth, heading to the motel to drop our new "favoritest" blogger off at his hotel. Best of all, after assembling BC Bones and meeting them in the flesh, AKMA slipped me a copy of his book and we were on our way back to Boston.

You Did!

AKMA even with such a busy day and away from home, I can't believe you beat me to the screen and outblogged me, but ... I'll be back with more soon.

I actually just wrote up our visit only to have it blow up. I always consider that a helpful nudge from the great above to edit the thing down by a few thousand words. I'm editing, I'm editing.

How Can One Car Get That Way?

Back from our very brief trip down to Connecticut to meet AKMA and Margaret. We were gone 24 hours. True we did stay over at our good friend's place in Norwalk, so we had to pack overnight bags which meant the car started getting a little filled up. Yes, travelling with a kid means the requisite trunkful of Hot Wheels, books, Legos, swim fins and every other darned thing they are convinced they can't leave home without. But golly, it took me so long to clean out the car this afternoon when we got back, looks like we'd been on a safari in Africa for three weeks.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Bless Me Elaine, For I Have Sinned

I confess, Elaine, I blew it, please forgive me. I was suddenly feeling sad that day and did a hide-under-the-covers afternoon disappearance.

Brilliant Blogger Elaine of Kalilily Time and Blogsisters fame was here in the Boston area Tuesday and even though we made an attempt to talk by phone, we never pulled it off. But really, it was all my fault. I'm sorry I missed you.

Her blog has great stuff about her visit with her daughter, who I did end up talking to, just as Elaine had left, just missing her.

I love the stuff on her blog most days and especially today about Eve Ensler. Her exegesis of Chris Locke's recent newsletter piece is not to be missed.

C'mon Andrew

How is it that Andrew Sullivan doesn't have anything to say about the lead story in all the papers — that Bush had advanced warning of Bin Laden threats in August 2001? Or did I just miss it?

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Up Close and Personal

David Weinberger wrote this week in his JOHO journal about the personal nature of blogs and mentions Chris Locke, Mike Golby and me. Thanks David for the mention, but I have to say I was crushed when you insulted me by saying,

Take someone who doesn't have RageBoy's penchant for laying himself out as his own best argument: Halley Suitt. Halley is normal the way the rest of us are normal (i.e., not the way RB isn't).

Don't you know I'm a Chris Locke wannabe?! I don't wannabe normal like everyone else. I'm having a helluva time emulating my hero. I mean I write lots of words like Locke, I do have a deck of Tarot cards, but I'm otherwise a rather ordinary no-drink, no-drugs boring at-home blogging mom with a 6-year-old infatuated with SpongeBob and a husband at work.

There must be some household product I could swill to meet Rageboy on common ground -- say, Spray N'Wash? And no reason to avoid sniffing a little Magic Marker now and then, when you're helping junior with homework, for a quick afternoon high. This death thing gets boring after awhile. I need to spice it up. Both Chris Locke and Mike Golby have infinitely more fascinating worlds to decode.

Meanwhile, as for UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, as usual Doc shows us all up by mentioning blogging wifi-ishly in the john on his blog yesterday. Surely he got 12,000 hits based on that and not what Steve Jobs had to say. I loved it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

A Tall Ladder

Seems lately there are so many disturbing events — you name it, suicide bombings, politicians shot at point blank range, war, hunger, global warming, potential nuclear annihilation conveniently scheduled for the 4th of July weekend — it would give even the most optimistic of us pause. It surely keeps the faithful of us not far from prayer, heads bowed, hands nervously pressed together.

I've lost track lately whether my occasional free-falls into sadness are due to specific recent events worthy of grief and mourning (i.e., my dad's death over a month ago now), or if there is a larger languishing despair we are all grappling with in these extremely uncertain times. Some mornings I feel I am struggling to get out from under a heavy wet felt blanket of hopelessness. And I tend to be a fairly upbeat and optimistic person! I fear for those with darker tendencies.

I wish I had a tall ladder I could climb and sit on top to see the big picture. If I had some perspective to know it's 1774 or 1861 or 1933 or some other hard time. Times that tried men and women's souls, but times they could recall and recount and gain strength from. Our times make you wonder if we're spiraling down into the end of time.

So today, I bless the mundane that gets me back into the flow of life — children must eat! And they must eat hot sticky orange macaroni and cheese. And my son choses to eat a giant bowl of the stuff with a 1/8 teaspoon measuring spoon, a tiny shovel to make the task a compelling challenge. And to watch him makes me laugh. And so, we continue on.

Carter's Flyto

Peterme has posted a most interesting piece about a magician named Carter. A contemporary of Houdini's, you must check out the weird and wonderful posters this guy used to advertise his many magical and mystical talents. Carter's "Flyto" looks like one scary ghost.

Hi Si!

Chatting on the phone with AKMA's son, Si. We had an interesting talk about home schooling. I told him to write about it on his blog and give us some links. Very interesting subject.

BTW, here's a link to some folks that have started building new alternative high schools. They're called The Big Picture Company. The book I mentioned, Si, is called One Kid At A Time.

Raymond Armed But Not That Dangerous

Eric Raymond's new blog: Armed and Dangerous is not to be missed. His ideas have always been more dangerous than any firearms he packs. Thanks, per usual, to Doc for pointing it out.

Thanks Yahoo!

My Yahoo email's been dead in the water since yesterday — feels like 3 weeks — and go ahead and try to find a shred of customer support (an actual email address) on their site. I did find these encouraging words in their terms of service agreement.


Monday, May 13, 2002

David Weinberger Speaks

I finally got a chance to ask David Weinberger a few questions about his new book, Small Pieces Loosely Joined. Here's what he had to say:

Question: After writing The Cluetrain Manifesto with co-authors Rick Levine, Christopher Locke and Doc Searls, what was it like to write your new book, Small Pieces Loosely Joined, completely solo?

What a relief not having to carry those three sluggards on my back!
"No, RageBoy, let me show you how it's done." You try to teach them, but you
know it takes an enormous amount of energy, like training voles* to play the violin.

Ah, but perhaps you wanted a serious answer. It really wasn't that
different because each of the four of us wrote our own sections alone.
It's not like we holed up for three months in a house, came down in our
bathrobes for breakfast and read one another's drafts.

The biggest difference is that I can't hide behind the three of them
with this one. If people don't like it, I can no longer blame it on the
trained voles. Although, of course, I still intend to try.

[*Vole: "Any of various rodents of the genus Microtus and related
genera, resembling rats or mice but having a shorter tail and limbs and
a heavier body."].

Question: Can you talk about the process of writing you book, the day-to-day challenges and concerns? For instance, weren't you still finishing it on September 11, 2001?

Yeah, I was doing the final copy-edit and some innocuous passages
suddenly became sinister. I decided to take out a passing reference to a
"big smoking crater" at the beginning of the last chapter, and some of
my claims about Americans feeling like we can manage our way out of
anything didn't seem so obvious any more. (It's a powerful delusion
though that keeps re-exerting itself, even now.)

But, 9/11 aside, the day to day of it was frustrating and difficult. I did more
rewriting than I've ever done. And writing a book is attempting to solve a puzzle
for which there may be no solution. As you well know, I was very close to
chucking the whole project about half way through because I couldn't write a single
chapter that was worth reading. Once I'd gotten one that didn't seem terminally
stodgy, the others came more easily. David Miller and Lisa Adams, my agents,
were very helpful at this pre-show-it-to-your-editor stage. Amanda Cook at
Perseus was great also.

Also, I was posting my drafts every day at, even
stuff I knew was pure crap. Very embarrassing. On the other hand,
comments and encouragement from people who started out as
strangers not only improved the book but literally kept me from
giving up on it. Thanks, Halley.

Question: What are you saying when you suggest "The Web celebrates our imperfection, ludicrous creatures that we are."

Business is anal-perfective. It's incapable of admitting that its
products aren't perfect even though we all know that. Marketing just
naturally assumes we want to see idealized images, and we have learned
not to trust those images. But slickness on the Web feels out of place.

Besides, fallibility is a requirement for conversation. If you don't
have even a smidge of a sense that you might be wrong, you're lecturing,
not talking. And almost all jokes celebrate that fallibility.

There's something liberating about not having to polish what you write.
Post it and run. That's one reason weblogs are so much fun. (AKMA
brought this up in his weblog the other day, citing Dr. Johnson.)

Question: Explain what you're saying when you say that the web "is the elite's nightmare of hoi polloi, the rabble, the mob that originally spurred the building of ivy-covered retreats."

Pretend you're an academic trying to put together an anthology of
literary criticism of Moby Dick. Consider the manuscripts that come
through the mail from accredited scholars. Now google "Moby Dick."
Examine your attitude. That's what I mean.

Most institutions are there in part to authorize and authenticate. When
we find other ways to do what they do without going through the
institutional channel, the institutions are right to be scared about
losing their grip and purpose.

Question: What do you mean when you say "The knowledge worth listening to --
that is worth developing together -- comes from bodies."

The rest of the passage says: "for only bodies (as far as we can tell)
are capable of passionate attention, and only embodied creatures, their
brains and sinews swaddled in fat and covered with skin, can write the
truth in a way worth reading."

The main point of that chapter is that historically we've reduced knowledge
to mere objective facts. But we need more than that and we are more than
that. We humans don't process information: we argue, shout, joke,
celebrate, wail, etc. Human knowledge comes from and embraces passion.
The connection to the body, which is rather tenuously expressed in the book
I'll admit, is that we are creatures who have to care about who we are
because we are in bodies abuzz with desires. And as bodily we die so we
know (as Heidegger puts it) that we are always at issue.

Question: What about "The Web helps us to embrace without embarrassment who we really are." What do you mean by that?

The overall theme of the book, which emerges slowly (which is one reason
I have so much trouble saying in a couple of sentences what the book is
about), is that the truths the Web uncovers are in fact the truths of
our lives in the real world as well, although our "default philosophy"
in the RW is alienated from these truths. Some of those truths are
embarrassing because we are not what we pretend to be. I think the Web
lets us be more of what we are -- at least in the talky, social ways --
than we feel we can afford to be in the real world.

Question: What trends on the Web do you see developing since the time you finished your book, that seem significant to you?

Oy gevalt. The virulent industrial-governmental attacks on Internet
freedoms that threaten to cripple the best chance for making free speech
and free markets the global norm (the stupid fucking bastards). The
emergence of weblog communities with very strong voices. The coming
collapse of the telcos. WiFi-based neighborhood networks bringing
broadband to anyone with a wireless card. The continued need for a layer
(at the edge!) that shows the Net as my set of social groups.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

I Want A Mom

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the noisy, whiny Rugrats tv show. But Rugrats In Paris, the movie is great and all about how Chuckie Finster searches for a mom. The Cyndi Lauper song, "I Want A Mom" is really terrific.

Cyndi Lauper - I Want a Mom That Will Last Forever

I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom to make it all better
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom who will love me whatever

I want a mom that'll take my hand
And make me feel like a holiday
A mom to tuck me in that night
and chase the monsters away
I want a mom that'll read me stories
And sing a lullybye
And if I have a bad dream to hold me when I cry

I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom to make it all better
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom that will love me whatever, forever

When she says to me, she will always be there
To watch and protect me I don't have to be scared
Oh, and when she says to me I will always love you
I won't need to worry 'cause I know that it's true

I want a mom when I get lonely
Who will take the time to play
A mom who can be a friend and a rainbow when it's gray
I want a mom to read me stories
And sing a lullaby
And if I have a bad dream, to hold me when I cry

I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom to make it all better
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom that will love me whatever, forever
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom to make it all better
I want a mom that will last forever
I want a mom that will love me whatever, forever
I want a mom
I want a mom
I want a mom that'll last forever
I want a mom that'll last forever
I want a mom
I want a mom
I want a mom that'll last forever
I want a mom
I want a mom that'll last forever
I want a mom that'll last forever
I want a mom..

Mom Home Womb Tomb

Mmmm, Mmmm, Good! Mmmm, Mmmm, Good! That's what [moms who make] Campbell's Soup are, mmmm, mmmm, good. Alma Mater, do you know what it means? Go look it up yourself. I'm not telling.

On Mother's Day, listen to all those resonant "mmmm" sounds. Belly sounds. Belly full of warm soup sounds. Belly full of warm milk sounds. Belly full with baby sound.

And there's no better irony than the words "womb" and "tomb". One box you fight your way out of at birth. Same box men are fighting their way back into every Saturday night, from the moment they see a pretty girl in a pretty skirt on a pretty street. "There's a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me." And then the pine box that takes you back into the ground to the tomb, a box to enclose you forever. Even the "mmmm" sound of tomb has the death knell sound to it. Mmmm, the bell tolls.

My Mom

On Mother's Day here, there's a sharp piece of glass lodged under my heart, it pricks at my heart every so often today, to know my mom isn't here anymore. Surely she's here in spirit though, when I think of all the funny practical stuff she taught me. She grew up in OOOOOOOOOOOklahoma where the wind goes sweeping down the plains, spending a good deal of her teenage years reading voraciously or watching movies in the local bijou to learn how rich people in New York City drank tea from china cups. At 18, she plunked down the money she'd been saving for years to buy a train ticket to Manhattan and leave her cow town behind.

She loved describing her arrival in New York in 1936, which was 100X more swell than she even dreamed, but her embarrassment to have nothing to wear but her homemade calico cowgirl dresses. She set about getting rid of the dresses and her hick accent and her love of cowboy songs. These stories always amazed us, since we were the urban and suburban result of growing up in NYC at 80th Street between Madison and Park, Riverdale, NY and later Greenwich, CT with a mom who looked a lot more like Jackie O than Patsy Cline. We weren't rich, but riding a wave of 1950's prosperity, my dad's ability to talk anyone into another job in the booming Madison Avenue advertising biz of the time, and my mom's relentless push to give her kids a better upbringing than the dusty Okie life she'd lived.

Still, she was that energetic unlikely paradox of downhome no-nonsense candor and big city polish. Her advice on marriage, "It's easy to find some guy to screw you, what's hard is finding a guy who'll give you a good backrub."

What she was best at, as so many moms are, was making you feel everything was going to be okay — as long as you made your bed first thing every morning. I still make my bed first off, even in hotel rooms, believe it or not.

Whatever else she was, she was just an enormous amount of fun. Sometimes she served us dinner backwards starting with dessert, "just for the hell of it." She was playful and silly. When I was in my teens, despite her big brood of five kids, she took the time to plan a week vacation for each of us, alone with her. I remember being in Puerto Rico with her and one Saturday night she proposed we sit in the lobby, pretend to be waiting for someone, but just spend the evening looking at all the weird people going in and out and just make cracks about them, which we did and had a hilarious time doing it. She was a killer Charades player, she could trounce you at Scrabble, she did The Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in ink.

She was smart as a whip, but never got a chance to go to college. But even into her 70's she was better read than any person I know. Once I was arguing about politics with her, something I'd read in The New York Times by some prominent journalist. She stopped me cold and looked at me incredulously, "Didn't you read his piece in Rolling Stone?!" she says to me. And, of course, she was right, the same writer had written a seminal piece in RS, but I'd missed it. I walked away from the kitchen table stunned, chastened and thinking, "I'm 30 and she's 70 and she's reading Rolling Stone and I'm not?" It wasn't about that magazine, it was about the fact that she was a tireless and deep reader.

And did I mention, she loved me? Loved me with a unconditional but tough love that didn't seem to have a limit. I could always count on looking into her face, being stopped dead by those pretty green eyes of hers, flashing back one message loud and clear, "You're my darling daughter, you can do no wrong, I love you so."