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 TechDirt.com — 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 (www.isen.com), Joe Plotkin (www.bway.net), and me (halleyscomment) at lunch was the best — especially when Dan Bricklin (www.bricklin.com) came over and we started discussing what David Reed (www.reed.com) 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 smallpieces.com, 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."

Saturday, May 11, 2002

Bottom Line Retraction

BTW, the blog piece I did about "your ass is the next big thing" contained an error. (See: May 3, 2002 below) I'm mentioning it here, but also going back to edit it. The friend who was talking to me about a company that made men's padded underpants was NOT serious and there is no such company. I should not have made it sound that way. My error.

As for shaking your groove thing, the wedding we went to today featured a great cover band and we danced our butts off. Also, it was one of the most perfect May days I can ever remember. Boston was lovely today — cool breeze, 70 degrees, sunny and clear, perfect day for a white wedding.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Coming Soon To A Blog Near You

I have an interview with David Weinberger about his new book Small Pieces Loosely Joined I'll be posting on Monday. Don't miss it. Meanwhile, I've got a soccer game, a little league game, a wedding, a party, church and Mother's Day between now and then.

The Big Lie

Need to read this if you haven't. This is Adam Curry, the great Dutch blogger and ex-MTV host on the media — the TV media in particular — and their slapdash and dangerously irresponsible coverage of many events.

Is blogging a welcome (read, long overdue) recalibration of the truth?

There Are no Secrets
This has been the tagline of my weblog for years. Now that the internet has empowered any man or woman to have a voice, the truth can be found.

Can't remember if this is exactly the trail I travelled to find it, but thanks to Andrew Sullivan, InstaPundit, Susanna Cornett.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

We're Talking About A BRAND New Church

There's a piece today in the Boston Globe about how KPMG and E&Y are scooping up all the Andersen people and offices (at fire sale prices, I'm expect). I'm sure adopting the new KPMG religion as your own after being a lost-at-sea Andersenite won't be all that tough. Check it out.

In the same Boston Globe, we learn that Cardinal Law just can't remember anything. This may offend some folks, but honestly, like Andersen, the Catholic church is over. Cardinal Law has forgotten his congregation, it's time for the congregation to forget Cardinal Law. Now we need to watch who can give them a new BRAND while retaining their basic identity.

If you were a woman with young children — especially boys — in Catholic school and church, tell me what you'd be thinking about priests right about now. It's May, you're deciding whether to keep your kids in or yank them by September. You're really pissed off. You can't even say how you feel about the Pope you're so mad. The Pope who turned his back on American women long ago, with his medieval views on birth control and now this. You figure he doesn't get it -- especially doesn't get what American Catholics are going through now.

The Episcopalian church, like KPMG stands in an enviable position in history. They are looking at an enormous shift in market share if they do the right thing. They need to move quickly to make it easy for existing Catholic organizations to "re-brand" or "re-affiliate" with them.

1. If you're at a "Saint John's", "Saint Paul's", "Saint Whomever's" the Episcopalians are cool with saints, so the name doesn't have to change.

2. The Episcopalians have enough ritual, mass-like elements, everything that looks pretty Catholic from most everyone's point of view, to make Catholics feel at home.

3. The Episcopalians have married priests (but they should STOP using that word — there must be another they can use, minister, pastor?). They have women priests. They need some good PR to remind people of that.

4. The Episcopalians might think about bringing back a lot of local LATIN masses — this would give them incredible reach into the senior population.

5. They need to connect at the schools. The schools are going to be in a very tough spot. Get the mothers of these Catholic school kids to sign petitions to adopt a re-affiliation plan proposed by the Episcopalians. Make sure every photo op has WOMEN in it, even better, WOMEN priests, WOMEN church officials and Moms, all smiling together.

6. The Episcopalians might start by hiring the guy at KPMG who's running the Andersen absorption program.

[Editor's Note: BTW, I am neither Catholic nor Episcopalian, but belong to the UCC church.}

I'm Slowly But Surely Connecting

We talk all about voices on the web, and particularly how bloggers have such great "voice", but lately I've gotten a little tired of not knowing how we all ACTUALLY sound.

So I'm putting my list together and if you get a call from me — don't be surprised. I finally met Jeneane on the phone yesterday. What a blast! She's the best. And I only had a few details mixed up (I flunk reading comprehension, I guess.) She lives in GA not CA. Whoops!

Triple Word Score

My new friend Ruth invited me over for Scrabble this morning. She beat me, of course. She had a pretty linen table cloth on the table — the scene of the crime. I am a SERIOUS Scrabble player. I don't like to go down in flames. She was so curteous at the end. I was stuck with tiles I had to eat. She said, "you can subtract them from your score, or add them to mine." This is more polite than some of the players I've played with, who rub your nose in it by forcing you to subtract.

I brought Twinings Tea Sampler — English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Lady Grey, Prince of Wales, Irish Breakfast — something to suit any mood. She had a real teapot — boiled the water, heated the pot. She was a serious teamaker I could see. The writing was on the wall even then. Why didn't I see it coming? I also brought 4 muffins — Corn, Blueberry, Carrot Cake and Gingerbread with Cream Cheese frosting.

She had a radio station on that was playing a lot of my favorite rock and roll. This must have been her evil strategy. I was lulled into a stupor listening to some of my favorite lyrics. She had the scrabble tiles in a Seagram's blue flannel bag with a gold cord. I liked this too.

She beat my ass, frankly. And BTW, did I mention, Ruth was born in 1908.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002


Mike Zellers will get you going. Check out his blog. He loves yoga and rollerblading, two of my favorites as well, although I'm a novice at both.

Grasshoppers In Winter

Dervala writes great stuff about the fact that this economy still stinks. See her May 6, 2002 blog entry called "Freedom's just another word for everything to gain." Check this out.

Don’t believe anyone who tells you the recession is over. In New York, we are grasshoppers in winter. I have smart, talented friends who haven’t worked in months, who are surviving on whatever they stashed away in the foolish years. Rents are down, but they don’t have broker fees to move. Vindigo got 700 résumés last week from a single advert, and the people I meet at (rare) industry events have a desperate look as they press ‘Consultant’ business cards on one another. It’s a crazy time to look for a job, unless you have to.

And I love what she writes about all the money wasted on fancy meals and general goofing around we did in "the foolish years," as she calls it. Reading her credit card bills is no fun, she confesses. Same with me. I think we all did this. Remind me why paying $25.00 for two endive leaves and a microscopic piece of seared tuna on a tiny plate would make sense on any planet in the universe? Been there. Done that.

My credit card bills from the last few years make depressing reading now—I feel like a twit for spending thousands of restaurant dollars maintaining 120lbs of human meat.

I feel even dumber for spending my twenties in an office. Saturdays, late nights—I was expert at face time. Did I produce more that way? Absolutely not. Any parent dying to get back to a four-month old would churn out more work in six hours than I did in 12.

Deeper into her blog, she writes about skydiving. Brave girl. Made me nauseous to read it.

Blogcon Vegas

Hey, Jeneane, Heath and a bunch of other cool folks. Can't wait to hang out with you guys at Blogcon in Las Vegas, August 23-25, 2002.

I hear you're forming a band with Rageboy to play gigs in Vegas for Blogconnaisseurs. I'm down with that. I'll do vocals and hit a tambourine on my hip intermittently.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

The Bad News about Big J Journalism

I know we've done this one almost to death, but whatever you say about Journalism, the stuff we're being served up these days in legit newspapers, news programs, news magazines is so incredible DEPRESSING, you gotta love blogs just for the slightly sunny atmosphere they create.

I don't think this is a small thing. Wanna talk content? Honestly, since 9.11.01, most of the big J Journalism "content" has been nothing short of terrifying.

People have told me they come to my blog for a BREAK from all the bad news. Objectivity, subjectivity, elite white East Coast establishment, Hippie Left Coast anti-establishment, warbloggers, gay conservative Catholic commentators — whatever the argument for or against blogs and journalism, at least blogs let you believe people are still living their lives, going about their business, raising their children and somehow managing. That alone is heartening.

Think about Doc's blog. I go there to witness a thinking man living his life, reflecting on it, being human with all that means — joys, jokes, flaws, wonders, concerns — and of course, to watch his young son fall asleep in his lap in the rocking chair on the roof as they gaze at the stars.


I went swimming in the pool today.

Deep Dive in a Blue Martini

Drowning my sorrows at the pool today. Not drinking actually — just lapping up the laps wearing my speedo suit, speedo blue goggles with blue lenses, everything is very bright blue. I was absolutely chipper when I came out.

I'm always the voyeur, and the goggles let me watch the underside of the water, swimmers' funny limbs dangling in a non-gravity underwater limbo.

I fell madly in love with the guy in the next lane. Big baggy swimming pants — honestly, how many American men can do themselves a favor by wearing one of those very tiny black nylon Speedos, not many — so the guy made the right choice. He was cool.

I loved him instantly because he was a big splasher. A very hungry swimmer. Swimming something out or just trying to get over something. We would cross mid-lane going the opposite directions. I'm careful not to give him an inadvertent swift kick. I'm slinking along the bottom like an eel, following the black tile stripe with my purpley-pink-painted fingernails, they look like ten little fish going to school, trying to see how long I can stay under before I need to surface and gasp. The pool wall, just under the water at the end, where he does a tuck and turn, has a black tile cross to touch your toes against and then spring forth. The pool, if you look through my goggles, in fact, is filled with cruxifices. I go down to the river to pray. I am washed clean.

Lately, as I get over my father's death, I'll have just perfectly fine days, but then suddenly, I'll be swept away in tears for the most pedestrian reasons. It's a bit like weather. In the morning, the coast looks clear and I plan to go about my day, but sometimes, even by 11:00am, they'll need to post the small craft warnings. The sea is getting choppy and I'm not finding my sea legs. I don't have a mom or dad anymore — the people who thought whatever I did was always good.

I wish I could take a break from feelings sometimes, but the flood of tears comes and flows down each side of my head, like bonnet strings, dampening each cheek, two rivulets of rain racing one another down to the sea. They meet under my chin in a wet place.

Later, I'm wondering if everyone else gets so absorbed in the sensual and emotional aspects of the world. I would like to get back to a hard-hearted Halley, but I don't know if there really is one. I remember the first time I read the French writer Colette and thought, "Oh, my God, she writes the way I FEEL. That's exactly how I see, feel, taste, smell, experience life, with enormous sensuality, just like her." No wonder I get so tired just living in this world.

I wonder what it would be like to turn it off for a while. Maybe it would sound like ... (see above.)

Monday, May 06, 2002

But David, Content Is King!

David Weinberger is fed up with content. Seems to me, the big problem with the word "content" is that the terminology is mostly used by those who are NOT creating the "content" but rather the merchandisers of said "content" The word has a serious p.o.v. problem.

I don't call what I write "content." I call it my writing. I don't call the child I gave birth to a "consumer" or a "citizen" or a "voter." I call him my son.

It's only when someone wants to make money off my creative efforts that they call my work "content" Only a person who wants to manage, manipulate, steal or sell my words calls it "content."

Content is a pimp's word. People who use the word "content' make my words into whores. The word instantly separates the person who creates from the person who profits by the creation. It goes against everything David is talking about in a smart, new book called Small Pieces Loosely Joined.

I don't know a thing about this company, but listen to how they talk about "content."

"We develop meaningful, rich, fresh content, that engages audiences in purposeful interactions with your brand."

Oh, yeah, right. I'm afeared David will go rushing for his sphygomanometer when he reads that. Maybe he'll like this better..

Halley's Comment: "I develop meaningful, rich, fresh content for no good goddamned reason other than to entertain myself and anyone else who saunters by."

Sunday, May 05, 2002

Spider-Man Casts His Net, Yanking in $114M

Spider-Man hits an all-time record for box office gross this weekend. Read Variety and don't miss SiBlog's excellent review of the movie. AKMA's son ponders is the Arachnid-Man a post-modernist?

Eye of the Beholders

Peterme and Doc are thinking about beautiful design per Don Norman's request for all things beautiful. This has sparked a big Sunday morning conversation at our house.

Like beautiful girls, are beautiful objects just supposed to sit there? Where does the issue of function come into play? Ever touched a beautiful blonde's heavily hairsprayed hair? Yuck. Or tried to get a beauty into bed, just to find she is not at all compliant — inflexible and poorly designed? Or if you get her there, only to find that she's just too dumb to bother with? This was the design genius of a beautiful object named Marilyn Monroe — attractive, playful and obviously smart.

We were talking about our Camry this morning. We find it absolutely drop dead gorgeous — because it is so understated and so reliable. A recent commercial shows a mom showing up for daycare on time in a Camry and talks about how you can depend on certain things — and there's a beauty in that. But surely, it's all in the eye of the beholder. (Notice the kid looking at the mom who's just arrived — now that's a beautiful mom.) We think the Camry is beautiful, but we're not 25 and single and lust after small red sports cars.

Of course, the TARGET ads are beautiful as they throw every green thing into one ad, justaposing brands and doing it wryly. And almost all Apple products are beautiful. And just about anything Handspring makes is beautiful. And I agree with Doc, GirlRepair is drop dead beautiful. But they are also highly functional.

Our house votes for simple and elegant design which lets function lead the dance. Hitting that note where function and design are both integrated and therefore transcendent is the trick. Good luck.

Saturday, May 04, 2002

On a hillside

I've always thought it strange that people want to be buried on a hillside — to get the best view. It says everything about how paradoxical death is and how we have no way to fathom it.

Finally back from driving 490 miles in one day to take my dad's ashes from Boston to his farm on the border of New York and New Jersey. Thursday was rainy and rotten, Friday was sunny but blowing a gale, and today, Saturday a beautiful day. He would have turned to messy clay on Thursday, and on Friday, in a wild wind, he would have flown out of our view before we could blink again and say a slow goodbye.

Today it was a beautiful, still, sunny, shiny, lovely, warm, May day, easy for driving, easy for chatting, easy for placing my dad's ashes on the best hillside under a nice hearty pine tree he had once planted himself.

Again, I find myself the one family agent in this rite — no other siblings could take the trip — but I was there with my husband and son who were strong and kind.

Just as it was with watching my dad die a few weeks ago, putting his ashes in the ground today leaves no lingering questions about the reality of death. He is gone, back to the earth, not a bad place to be on a day like today.

Catholic Church Meltdown

Talk about clueless. Another killer piece in the NYTimes today about the Catholic Church on it's last legs "Is the Pope Catholic?". Even Andrew Sullivan has lost faith.

Friday, May 03, 2002

Bottom Line

I was watching my kid and his friends play at McDonald's the other day. They love to climb. They climb and climb and climb. And they really use their bottoms — sticking them right out there — their little butts are in gear And what are we adults doing — sitting around on our asses all day. We're kindof trying to hide them. Not good, just not good.

Any one who knows anything about yoga will tell you you got some serious prana coming in and out of your bottom -- serious chakra city. I mean think of Sting's butt for a minute. Or longer if you like.

And then I was thinking about this great song by Sir-Mix-A-Lot — Baby Got Back. It was on the Charlies' Angels soundtrack if you missed it. This boy loves girls with really substantial butts. This is just about the perfect song if you ask me. It's about time someone celebrated bottoms. You can tell a lot about a person from their backside. Don't miss this.

So ladies (yeah), ladies (yeah)
If you wanna roll in my Mercedes (yeah)
Then turn around
Stick it out
Even white boys got to shout
Yeah, baby,
When it comes to females
Cosmo ain't got nothin' to do with my selection
Only if she's 5'3"!

So your girlfriend grows a Honda
Playin' workout tapes by Fonda
But Fonda ain't gotta motor in the back of her Honda
My anaconda don't want none unless you've got buns hon'
You can do side-bends or sit-ups,
But please don't lose that butt

And a few months ago a friend and I were in a Chinese restaurant talking about a new company he was thinking of investing in — they make padded underpants for men. I still don't know if he was kidding me.

"Front padding or back padding?" says I.

"Front," he says, like it's obvious.

"A kindof a Mick Jagger thing? Come on, it's not the front anymore, it's the back Mick needs to worry about." You can see, I've gotten his attention.

"Wait a minute, you're really on to something there," he says.

So then I explain, "Flat butts are really out. It's just so "East Coast White Male Heirarchy" -- very passe. I mean, a flat butt says ... well, nothing. A flat ass means you're not even in the game. A big ass inspires more trust. You have to put your ass on the line. You need "back".

"What's back?" he says. So, we're back to back again. I mean, we're talking about the song. I fill him in on the details.

"I think the way he plays with Honda and Mercedes is interesting. don't you? He knows everything about trusted brands."

"I like it," he says.

So watch your bottom today and everyone else's as well, for that matter.

I'm telling you, your ass is the next big thing.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Retraction time. I found out that this padded underpants company was NOT a real company and I wanted to clarify that.]

Number One Doc

I guess Doc is the number two Doc in all doc listings on Google, but number one in every other respect. So I ran Halley and I'm the number three Halley — but why? I don't get it. Anyway, it was fun to meet these other Halleys.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Words Words Words

Jen mentions Jason's big question — how the heck do bloggers have the time to write so much stuff? Jen is right about it being a habit and a discipline. You just get into it. When I was cleaning out my office the other day, I found my box of about ... 25 journals ... I've kept one on a daily basis for a long, long time.

Of course, one of the other non-secrets is once you have kids, you never sleep well again. I get up really early and work-out and write. Once my day starts to be busy, I don't usually get back to my blog. Some days yes, many days no.

Sometimes I save stuff in Blogger. I'll put it in, but not "publish" it until I need to, but that's rare. An example of that was the Emily Dickinson poem I published on the day my father died (April 9). I had put it into "storage" on my blog a few days before because things at the hospital were getting so bad, I knew he would be leaving us and I wanted to have a poem ready.

At the hospital, he was in the ICU on the fifth floor, the chapel was on the first floor — I spent a lot of time in there. Then one morning I noticed they had a medical library next to the chapel and I figured they must have net access there. I went in and the librarian set me up online. Since my email is @yahoo and my blogging is @Blogger.com, it was all there for me, as were many other friends and some family that couldn't be there. Was it weird to be online while someone was dying? Maybe. Was it comforting for me? Yes.

Oprah's Last Bookclub

So sorry she's ended her bookclubs. I was on her show and it was so much fun.

In early 2000, I was knee-deep in business books, white papers, technology mags, Harvard Business Reviews and other biz media since I work as an editorial consultant to high-tech and internet folks. I wasn't reading any fiction then and missing it a lot. I took a little time off one afternoon to watch Oprah and find out about the next novel they were reading — Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune.

I read the book and loved it so wrote in to tell them how much I enjoyed it. I didn't know anybody there. I didn't even know much about the book club, but just did it on a lark.

A few weeks later, someone from the show called me. I thought it my sister goofing around. I called them back. They asked me a ton of questions about the book — nearly 45 minutes worth. They don't tell you you're being considered as a guest on the program. It's more like chatting with some colleague about a book you both just read. Finally I said to the young guy producer, "Listen, it's been great to talk about the book, but I've gotta go and surely you can find someone else — try going to Starbuck's — to talk to about this book." Then he fessed up that I was being considered for the show. They said they'd call back in a few days. They did. Now I had a new person to talk to about the book. It was getting to be like oral exams for a Ph.d in literature. They were very nice, but I figured it wouldn't amount to anything.

Finally they called me a week or two later on a Friday afternoon to tell me that out of all the letters they got (anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 each book), they'd picked me as one of four people to be on the show. When was the taping? Well, it being Friday afternoon, they wanted me to fly to Chicago from LA on Monday morning!

How many people would say, "Sorry, Oprah, I just can't miss work." Very few. So I flew there Monday, they taped Tuesday and I was back in LA Wednesday.

It was so much fun. Oprah is totally cool and girlfriendy and after spending tons of time in hair and makeup, we finally got to meet her. We were on the big faux library/diningroom set waiting for her and everyone's bustling around and then suddenly, you could feel a real change in the air, a veritable "Elvis has entered the building" discrete group gasp, and there she was.

During the taping, I look over at her and I see her staring at Isabel Allende and all of a sudden I get the feeling that this richest, most famous woman in the world would give her right arm to just be a writer. Funny how life works.

Of course, all of us were terrified we'd say something stupid with spinach on our teeth. (We had to eat dinner while talking.) At the end of the taping, she gave us each a leatherbound copy of the book, which was autographed. Also, she had a gift for us -- a totally cool bag of bubble bath and other great cosmetics. What a fun trip.

Father, Son ... what about the Holy Ghost?

This "What Blogging Archetype Are You Most Like?" quiz is having strange results. Currently AKMA's son Si is Doc. However, Doc is AKMA. And David Weinberger, thank God, is still David Weinberger. Reminds me of a movie I like. "My mother, my sister, my mother, my sister, my mother AND my sister."

Welsh Rabbit!

Ed Murray wrote me a funny email about his family's intimate acquaintance with comfort food (see my blog 4.30.02). I told him he better blog it over at his blog.

I love his Google competition where a search for Coke boasts 1,140,000 hits over Pepsi's lackluster 706,000 and even better, a search for God gets 31,600,000 references while Satan can only claim a lousy 1,770,000 mentions. AKMA's in the right business.

They Don't Actually Wear Satin

At least I don't think so. I'm finally (sorry guys) adding the link to SATN.org which is a very meaty, thoughtful, not-to-be-missed blog. Bob Frankston, David Reed and Dan Bricklin are three seriously brilliant guys — the kind that are so brilliant they don't need to make you feel stupid, they actually make you feel smart if you're ever lucky enough to meet them.

I can tell you from experience that if you ever need someone to sit next to at a Hungarian Pig Roast in Budapest who's a witty, brilliant conversationalist and doesn't mind jumping up to sing Le Marseillaise all of a sudden — Bob Frankston's your man — these were the unlikely circumstances of how we met at one of Esther Dyson's conferences. (She does an inspired Marseillaise too.) As you read SATN.ORG, you'll quickly figure out that Frankston is another insanely brilliant guy, pretending to be normal.

David Reed tends toward the less vocal, but he's one deep thinker. If you've heard of Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law, you need to know Reed's Law about group forming networks. David gets that face on that my son has when I ask him to put his sneakers on fast, before we miss the school bus, and says reflectively, "Mom, what's better — hydraulic power or a system of pulleys to make that Lego spaceship I'm building move faster?" In other words, they are NOT often in this world, but whereever it is their minds are roaming, the results are always impressive. They can go there and stay there if they like, and just visit us now and then bring back genius stuff for the rest of us to enjoy.

I don't know Dan Bricklin personally but I like everything I've read about him so far. Another serious cranial presence. Check this out. So don't miss their blog/blogs and put them on your list.

Son of the Preacher Man

Whoa! Brave kid! AKMA's son has built a new blog at this address and joins us all in blogtown. Josiah, known as Si, welcome, good luck, may the light in the basement shine upon you and CRANK UP THE MUSIC!!!

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

John Irving Gets Away With Murder

Thinking about fiction all of a sudden. You know, in his novel The Fourth Hand, Irving does something so great, it just knocked me out. Most writers could NEVER pull it off. He turns his protagonist on his head, and keeps him dangling there for a while. He makes you question everything about the hero you thought you knew -- and everything about yourself you thought you knew.

In the novel, Patrick Wallingford, the womanizing TV anchor who is finally so close to getting the real girl of his dreams, a girl who is NOT his usual prey and has him essentially dumbfounded — a nice girl who would not usually go for a womanizing cur — the hero suddenly questions himself about whether in fact he's a "nice guy." Oddly, although we as readers start out by thinking he's a jerk, by the time he's close to being with this nice girl, we kindof like him and we want him to win her and when he hesitates, it is personally painful.

The poor shit's world just about comes undone in this moment of doubt. He's not a guy that ever doubts himself -- or certainly not his ability with women. In fact, he's always predicated his life on the fact that he's a good guy, a nice guy and suddenly he realizes maybe he's NOT.

It's such a deft move to pull off in fiction. It perfectly describes what we ALL do when we grow up and grow old — we spend a life time thinking we're good guys and then something happens that forces us to question everything in our lives. At dark times — in deaths, in divorces, on dark nights, we come up against a scary feeling. We wonder, "ARE we the good guys?" And the hero of the book does this -- a really shallow guy basically -- but when he does this, it's quite amazing.

Does he get the girl? Gotta read the book.

Love Letters in the Silicon

Of course, several bloggers have noticed — in particular, the witty and erudite Tom Matrullo wrote about this very thing somewhere — that blogs are rather like LETTERS. I think Steve Himmer would concur, as his onepotmeal.com has postage stamps and postmarks.

Love Letters In The Sand

Get me a ticket

on an air-o-plane

ain't got time to take a fast train

lonely days are gone

I'ma goin' home

My baby she wrote me a LETTER.

Big spring cleaning and heave-ho here today and I'm really digging deep. I found a folder of all my letters from the 80's and there are some wonderful ones.

Most marriages are simply the mating of a "thrower-outer" and a pack-rat. I'm the tosser, my husband's the keeper. But for once, I'm so glad I kept this bunch of letters. Torrid love letters from guys I don't remember (sorry!) Equally torrid ones from guys I'll always remember. Funny serious letters from my bratty baby sister with big advice about life and the world (of which she knew ... not much at that time.) Deftly worded rejection letters of my early poems, stories, ideas for articles (thanks all polite editors, most of the stuff wasn't very good.) But best of all, letters from my mom and dad, both gone now. What a treat!

I'm sitting in my office with a hundred boxes around me, all demanding my attention, but I'm trotting down memory lane, reading letters from my parents. Good day.

Yes, there is a site for every occasion.

I'm sure you haven't missed the working man's Mayday site. I'm off to find a Mayday Maypole site. There's got to be one.

Mayday! I mean M'aidez! No, wait, I mean, Pan, Pan, Pan!

The origin of the emergency call "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!" comes from an anglicized version of the French "M'aidez" ( M' = Me; Aidez = Help, i.e. "Help me") and has nothing to do with the month of May.

Here's the right way to signal distress from boats.com —

Mayday Calls -- The right way to use this vital distress signal

by Chris Caswell

Use the word "Mayday" only when you and your boat are threatened with
"grave and imminent danger." A distress call consists of the word
Mayday repeated three times, the name of your boat, and the call sign:
"Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, this is Intrepid, WYV699."

Follow this immediately with the distress message, which includes the
word Mayday and your identification, your position, the nature of the
emergency, the number of people aboard and any other information to
speed your rescue: "Mayday, this is Intrepid, WYV699, 10 miles due west
of Point Angel, taking on water rapidly, cannot stay afloat more than 30
minutes, four persons on board, Intrepid is a 24-foot sportfisher, white
hull, blue trim. Maintaining watch on Channel 16. Intrepid, WYV699, over."

If your crisis is not life-threatening but you need to break through, use the
words "Pan, Pan, Pan" (the urgency signal for assistance) before your
call: "Pan, Pan, Pan, this is Intrepid, WYV699, have apparent broken arm
aboard, need medical advice immediately, Intrepid, WYV699, over."

I find it hard to believe "Pan, Pan, Pan!" would do much for anyone shouting it out.

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday of Silence!

Doc reminds us that May 1 will witness a Day of Silence on Internet Radio. This press release on Declan McCullagh's Politechbot.com will give you a pretty great list of internet radio stations and more info on it.