Thursday February 28, 2002

Fuck. The Extra Glenns were last night at Café du Nord. Have I lost the abilty to recognize and respond an revel in true perfection when it abounds?

Thought I’d post a link to a funny web page since I haven’t finished my story. I thought posting 3/4 of it would motivate me to end it but it didn’t. This sentence didn’t get auto-capitalized by word and it annoyed the hell out of me. Mainly be....whew, that one popped up a capital M....mainly because I have been spending a hell of a lot of time trying to build a content management system that uses Word as its editor, yes, I’m still working on it. Day and night. Obsessing. So, in the spirit of obsessing over trivial matters and producing a laughable result, I give you a hyperlink to Toilet Paper. A supercharged bathroom-automation project done with Python, the language that I’m learning. Toilet paper is pretty funny. They even made a poster of it.

Last night I steeled my reserve and applied the last drops of gumption and made a little application that opens Word up and allows me to type into it and then closes word and reads the HTML from Word back into my app. One of the reasons I’m doing this is that Word knew better than I how to spell the word gumption. (of course the grammar checker its utterly baffled at my parenthetical quasi-verbal remarks.)

I’ve made a whole lot of progress on understanding what happens to the ‘ and “ characters in my writing and why terms like Unicode and ASCII are actually quite important to a writer. I’m going to try to switch over to Unicode, (now that the industry is providing some support -- XML and programming tools are helping) and hopefully I can arrange it so that my composition and storage use the full character set and then it's dumbed-down when translated to other formats (like the Netscape browser.)

John Darnielle and Franklin Bruno play Café du Nord tonight. Their new album is really sweet. Better than the new Mountain Goats I think.

Saturday February 23, 2002

Adam Bosworth explains why, even though I spent the only dollars I've ever spent on a computer book on an XSLT book, it was probably wasted money.

This is the paradox: XML was chosen in part because humans could read and write it, unlike the highly efficient babel of binary formats that preceded it. Yet languages encoded as XML grammars and used for manipulating XML can only really be read and written by programs (and a few very smart people). This is why books for XML and Java and books on XSLT sell in such great numbers. In making the formats easy and interoperable, we made the programming hard.

Wednesday February 20, 2002

Uusally reading a resume wouldn't be that fun, unless you were voyeuristically looking at someone's resume who you knew was a total idiot and they were making themselves look brilliant. That might be fun. But I think reading my friend John's resume is fun just because he's led an interesting life and it's written in a very friendly prose style. It's better than any resume I've ever read.

Ed: the kind of man who ignores young boys until there's a real lesson to be taught to them. Who's nickname for me was "Red on da head like a dick onna dog." Who probably stood 5'6". Who smiled with his entire upper body and scattered the hundreds of cigarette butts that retards and boys scavenged. For whom the lyric was written, "Gas-fume casualty in a repossessed car, Vietnam vet playing air guitar."

Part three in "The Greatest Night of My Life".

Monday February 18, 2002

While Angel, the kids and I, were in the trailer's living room, Mario and David the mental patient were in our room having a "hobo smoke". David swore by the hobo smoke: you take a piece of newspaper, rip a long strip, roll it, light it, and smoke it. Tobacco was optional. If you were living it up that day, you could gather all the cigarette butts you could find, empty them onto the paper and smoke that. There were hundreds of cigarette butts on the ground around the trailer, but thanks to David and us, there wasn't a lick of tobacco stuck to any of them.

Installment two in "The Greatest Night of My Life".

Sunday February 17, 2002

Well, the swing bike that I was lusting after, and was for a short time high bidder on, is going to sell for over 400 bucks. 38 minutes left and all I can do is watch it go. Especially sad when I was the one who popped the reserve on that sucker.

I guess I'll just have to wait for a rusted one to show up. Bummer.

Saturday February 16, 2002

I realize that I'm becoming like all those other bloggers who get made fun of for their inconsequential little posts. And I'm told by my web stats that there are actually people who read this every day. So I feel bad, of course. I've never been able to come up with a spectacular piece of writing every day. I used to be able to get a photo that'd I'd taken scanned and published but the picture river has dried up. I refuse to walk around and snap stupid lomo-ish digital photos of abstract stuff just to have something to publish. I've tried not to write drivel.

In the interest of "having something to say", I've thought about getting glamorous jobs such as a backhoe operator that would put me in contact with people I find interesting and foreign. He's an example of me going on and on about my glamorous life in Bombay during this week two years ago. (God, don't' those two look good? (and sweaty)) I'm reminded that I only wrote a couple of times a week when I was living 50 times as fast as I am now so I shouldn't be so hard on myself.

But I gotta do something to justify the time I'm spending on developing my back-end content-management system. My back-end is pretty sore from sitting in front of my computer for 20 hours a day for the last 2 weeks. It's time to justify it. (And I don't mean that in the formatting sense!)

Oh shit, I just had another idea: to add a "save as draft" functionality to it. So I could squirrel away ideas until I was ready to make blog entries out of them.

It really is becoming quite monstrous. And I love it. Yes I do.

SO HERE IT IS: my big piece of content for you to manage. A story called "The Greatest Night of My Life". I'm going to publish it serially and I'm not going to put the actual text in this blog (except for teasers). (the reasons should be obvious, if you read it from the archives you'd have a pretty tough time making sense of the ordering of the sections.)

Damn, I'm being long-winded.

Here's today's teaser paragraph:

I watched Diane getting ready in her room. She was being extra nice and not yelling and trying to make herself pretty. I was only 13 but I knew that Diane was putting on makeup badly. Red stripes on her cheeks, blue streaks on her eyelids, lip-gloss and curling-iron curls of bleached-white hair framing her puffy red face. Diane was the ugliest woman I'd ever seen and she was even stupider than she was ugly. At one point I saw her breasts as she pulled on her shirt but I didn't get excited. That was the first time I'd ever seen bare boobs and contrary to what I'd been told, I found that it was possible to not enjoy it.

Are you a cooperationist? I was thinking about reading Edmund Wilson after my brain synapse book and I stumbled across this essay after reading David Mertz's introduction to programming Tk with Python. Now that I think of it, that path of discovery supports his viewpoint in this article. I wonder if EW is a computer guy like Mertz...

He has a fun little test to see how the brain computes using prejudices and not with mathematics and while I like his rip of Wilson, recently I'm finding myself tempted by the same fallacies as Wilson, namely, over-reductionist thinking. The problem with being a amateur scientificalistically thinking sorta person is getting too hot on one subject and using it to explain everything.

One simple insight of most moderately sophisticated philosophy of science is that sciences explain in myriad orthogonal levels. The true stories told by physics (whether by today's physics, or by some future physics which corrects today's mistakes) neither contradict nor affirm the true stories of sociology, or even chemistry (themselves, of course, subject to the same fallibilist caveats). One type of truth may speak at one level of explanation, and another truth at quite a different level.

The other reason I'm putting this link in my blog is that I like the dude's retro style. I had a web page like that back in the mid 90's also. Notice how he got fancy with the horizontal bars instead of just using the old <HR>'s and some of you may even recognize the old gopher icons that used to tell you if you were going to be dumped into the world of gopher. It used to be that if you were really taking care of your readers, you made custom icons for all the items in your bulleted lists of links. Man, they just don't make 'em like that any more.

Here's your word for the day: orthography

Friday February 15, 2002

I’m writing this from Word and publishing it in my blog because after looking at all the xml editing tools on the market, they all suck, except maybe XmetaL (but it costs too much). I mean I installed them all. From funky Python-based summer-school projects to the enterprise-class document repository engines.

So I found a little proggie that reads .doc or .rtf and converts to xml or xhtml. It even writes schemas and dtd’s. upCast is its name and it’s what I’m going to use to generate xml in my blog. Words just knows how to let me type as fast as I want, and I like that. I also know how to make it save the current date, time and do things like increment the blog Entry ID. So I use word to create the entries, export some rather nice xml (unlike native word xml), and boo-ya, it starts the long journey though my custom crunching and smoshing and codifying to end up on

Wednesday February 13, 2002

Well, I've made a hell of a lot of progress in the last couple of days. Leanin' that XSLT into my brain. Oh I know, who'd want to bother with that stuff. You've said it time and again. I know. But I couldn’t resist. It's just so OPEN. I can't help but fall in.

XSLT is starting to work for me, thanks to G. Ken Holman and a lot of people on the net. It’s totally stupid and arcane and it’s almost killed me to make a little blogging program that’s based in XML and XSLT.

I’ll be proudly reviewing my little creation soon but lemme put it down now, Wednesday, February 13 (oh love those dates) (I can format the fuck out of a date now.)

All my blog posts are stored in an xml file. It’s sent through a stylesheet transformation or two and I get a folder full of html pages, all broken up by week and sorted all nice. I could have easily typed every one of those entries (a whole year’s worth, and probably a few more years worth) over again, with one finger pecking on the keys of an old typewriter and stopping to use the white-out every other word in less time than it took me to write my own blogger tool. I’m still not finished. This only publishes from a data file. I still can’t do any input.

So there you have it. You.. You..

Friday February 8, 2002

Oh you, you know you must be blind
To do something like this
To take the sleep that you don't know
You're giving Death a kiss,
Oh, little fool now

Your mind is full of pleasure
Your body's looking ill
To you it's shallow leisure
So drop the acid pill, don't stop to think now

Thursday February 7, 2002

Kids, I got a new batch of stickers coming. I think everybody's gonna want to collect them. But, NEW THIS TIME is the iron on. Wearable photography. A more limited edition of course, these little babies don't have the "" watermark on them. They're ready for adornment and adorement. 15 different kinds, among them are the good old Taipei Boarding Gate and some new ones like Truck Behind (hey, I like that name). I'll be passing them out over drinks in the near future.

The Lomo lab has photo clothes but you don't get to add your own photos to them. Get yourself Epson Iron-On Cool Peel Transfer paper and you can do it yourself. They look really good. Also, the program Qimage Pro is really good for making stickers. It is really smart about laying out multiple images on a page. Very handy software.

I'm thinking about selling them. I could make a little online sticker and iron-on store. You pick the ones you want, and send an order. You put the dough in my paypal account and I mail you the goods. I could charge 3 or 4 bucks a page.

I just tried to do all the thumbnailing and programming to make an online sticker store and gave up after 3 hours. Maybe I'll make it an XSLT project later.

I now have 112 unique stickers. The stack is about 1 inch high. I've added about 40 to the mix since last fall. Mostly ones from my photoblog of last summer. I'd estimate that will start ruling the universe, in its entirety, in a couple of months.

Wednesday February 6, 2002

So you children of the world,
listen to what I say
If you want a better place to live in
spread the words today
Show the world that love is still alive
you must be brave
Or you children of today are
Children of the Grave, Yeah!

Residents who may not need a California driver license are:

Persons driving farming vehicles which are not normally used on public highways, except when operating a combination of (more than one) vehicles over 25 miles per hour or when towing a spray rig, an anhydrous ammonia trailer, or a trap wagon.

Sunday February 3, 2002

Stelarc was at the SomArts gallery / subzero meatlocker on friday night. here's superfreak on a zip line between two buildings in manhattan, and one I happen to think is quite nice down by the seaside.

Saturday February 2, 2002

Today's email to Paul Ford at Posted as proof, if I was to drown today in Islais Creek, that I'd gone totally insane at the very end:

I bet you don't mess with schemas...

It's pretty hard designing a data structure while working with something like XML schemas. They're so flexible that while trying to define my blog data, I felt like Sam Lowry trying to eat his soggy morning toast in Brazil.

I think I was doing alright until the point that I tried to add a definition for A links. I was confused how to make it so you couldn't put A tags inside of A tags. Well, I'm too tired now. I read about XML schemas for about 5 hours and then spent another 5 writing my first schema for the blog. Check it out. I don't know if it means anything to ya. I chose to start with schemas instead of Dtd's because I'm starting fresh and everyone is recommending it over Dtd's. It was actually a little easier for me to comprehend. And what I learn making schemas translates to doing other types of XML.

I really didn't know how to put in markup tags like <b> and <p> and <br>. (or even if I needed to) I just threw them in where they looked good. Didn't even try div and span... I chose to describe things with attributes where I could instead of lots of elements. The books I read seemed to lean this way. Also, didn't see any need for groups with my type of structure. But, if I could get the body text described I would like to make that into a type.

I used HTMLSpy and it made it pretty damn easy to just drag stuff around and get it spelled right.

Funny, I couldn’t get any straight info about how you create a schema to describe regular old xhtml markup. There's a million ways to do "customers...order....addresses" Maybe I just reference XHTML and forget about it. I have no idea. My little brain tried to map out structure of the limited set of tags that I used and quickly got buried.

Here's the report of what I did.