this space intentionally left blank

April 6, 2009

Filed under: meta»announce»delays

Recovery Plan

Although I reserve the right to change plans at any time, both writing and commenting will probably be thin this week. I'm trying cut down on the amount of extra typing at the moment, as well as temporarily giving up use of the XBox and my musical equipment, since I've been feeling the twinges that herald the return of repetitive stress injury. As a writer, coder, bassist, and gamer, RSI is something that I've come to know fairly well. And after working with sufferers in a data-input center, I have no desire to aggravate my symptoms. I'd urge anyone here who suspects that they might be in a similar situation to be very, very careful: you only get one set of hands, after all.

Like I said, at the moment my recovery strategy consists of avoiding activities which aggravate my joints whenever possible. I also habitually use a trackball at work, which I find is slightly easier on my wrists, and I'm trying to take advantage of Vista's voice command app to do my computing at home. Feel free to suggest other helpful measures in the comments.

Update: Hands and wrists still hurting. Picked up an ergonomic mouse, made a doctor's appointment on Thursday, still trying to stay away from keyboards/basses/video games, but unable to avoid work at this time. Actually kind of enjoying the lack of blogging, although that won't last.

December 15, 2008

Filed under: meta»announce

Time Spent

Last week was busy--almost too busy. Here's what I was doing, since I obviously wasn't writing here:

  • My portfolio site hadn't been updated since I joined CQ, a little more than a year ago, so I took the time this weekend to get it caught up. There are three main changes. First, I added a multimedia section (between "code" and "audio," which seemed appropriate) to contain a lot of the projects I've been doing for CQ. I haven't gotten them all in yet, but it's a start. Second, I changed the non-prose sections to use Blosxom flavors instead of static pages, so they can be changed dynamically. Finally, I played with the CSS so that it's a bit more attractive. The page still remains very simple, but it looks a bit more "designed" now, like I meant it to be that way instead of just being lazy.
  • Today the Treasury will release its annual Financial Report of the US Government. It's expected that this report, just as in 2007, will predict that the government's national debt situation is unsustainable, and needs to be fixed. Working with our graphic staff and the editor of CQ Budget Tracker, I put together a multimedia package that complements the editor's story on the debt. You can browse the package here. It includes a video introduction to the package, a podcast explainer of the problem, a reprint of the current budget numbers in both text and graphic form, and a short sidebar on the history of the national debt. Although this took up most of Thursday and Friday, plus some editing on Saturday, I think it turned out very well.
  • I also updated the numbers on the CQ vote studies, so that we now have final 2008 numbers for the House and Senate. Unfortunately, these are embargoed for the public until next week, but they're pretty wonky anyway, and practically speaking nothing has changed since the last set.
  • Volunteer service has never been a strong point of mine, but I began adapting what I've learned at CQ and the Bank about multimedia presentation to some training materials for the non-profit where Belle works, and I'll be donating some time to them over the next few months. I think it'll be a fun shift in topic for me.
  • I played the open mike at Stacy's coffee shop again with a friend. The open mike itself is going through a dry period, so I've been playing there all this month, doing my part to keep it alive. This Wednesday, I'll be there again, this time for the pretentious solo project. I consider open mikes to be really important places for forming musical community, as opposed to spectacles. Unfortunately, in January and February, I won't be able to make it. Hopefully it'll come through the holiday season still kicking.
  • While Belle borrowed the Kindle, I got back to reading paper--I always have a backlog of books that aren't available electronically. This week, I've been working my way through The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, as recommended by China Mieville in the middle of his fine article on the Freedom Ship. The authors basically recast the Atlantic's history of piracy, insurrection, and rioting from 1600-1800 as a story of politically-aware class struggle, tracing a direct line of revolutionary thought from the movement for unfenced commons in England to the Caribbean pirates who fought the merchant classes to the Founding Fathers (who ultimately betrayed and diluted the democratic, egalitarian ideals that had inspired them). It's a fascinating book, if a bit dry.
  • If it's not too cold, while waiting for the bus, I'm still trying to finish Final Fantasy Tactics A2, in the hope of being able to play Disgaea DS before the end of 2010. Like its predecessors, FFTA2 is not really so much about tactics, but more about grinding and picking the right party members. But even so, it's oddly captivating.
  • And finally, I completed my holiday shopping. The highlight of this was buying a garden plant for a relative, only to realize a few days later that I had left it in the box and (more importantly) that you can't really wrap a living gift until the 25th. Needless to say, that one went out early.

August 30, 2008

Filed under: meta»announce»delays


This week until Friday I'm in St. Paul, helping CQ cover the Republican National Convention.


August 13, 2007

Filed under: meta»announce

UX Week 2007

Today and tomorrow, I'm going to be attending UX Week 2007 for a local trade publication. Feel free to take a look at the schedule and see if there's something you'd like me to check out while I'm here--I'm trying to record the sessions when possible so I can put together a report for one of the area radio stations. Suggestions for other places to file stories on UX Week would be appreciated.

April 27, 2007

Filed under: meta»announce»delays

No, what are you doing?

The past week has been a little crazy. B-SPAN is really starting to hit its peak season, combined with the stress of training my replacements. We've got some sessions coming up on the effects of mass media and leadership that look promising, though.

Take Your Kid to Work Day took place yesterday, and I was drafted to teach kids about radio and sound production. I'm personally convinced that the main purpose of Take Your Kid to Work Day is to convince childless coworkers that their loins should remain unfruited.

The job search continues, as I just finished an interview with a local progressive think tank and have an upcoming interview with an offshoot of one of the national news organizations. Let's hope one of them works out, since rummaging through trash bins in search of sustenance and commentary doesn't appeal much to me.

In musical news, attempts to form a band via Craigslist have yielded little, besides an increasing frustration with over-optimistic college students who post five or six times a week in need of a front man. Watching them humiliate themselves online has reminded me that the most reliable way to actually find other musicians is to go out and play. Accordingly, I'm going to start hitting open mikes again.

April 19, 2007

Filed under: meta»announce

Permission Granted

Conferred thanks to Making Light.

March 14, 2007

Filed under: meta»announce»delays

In Belgium

I'm going to be gone for a week, working on the Improving Governance and Fighting Corruption conference site for WBI. I'll be back in the USA starting March 16th.

Plans while in Belgium include waffles, chocolate, finding out if European Nutella is really better than the American stuff, and tracking down the Noisettes' What's the Time Mr Wolf.

Hold my calls.

October 11, 2006

Filed under: meta»announce»delays

The Power of the Gerund

I did this on once, before I had a blog and I would just change the front page randomly. I think it was inspired by an old post at Emma Story's blog. It's better than just saying "I'm busy."

Last week and the next, I am:

  • Composing: but not for myself. Three videos will be produced for the GDLN world forum, and they need music similar to the theme I've already made for background. Note to budding Spielbergs: do not tell your music director that you need "fast," "slow," and "really fast." music. It tends to be unhelpful.
  • Planning: for National Novel Writing Month. Will anything actually get written? Hard to say. But it's nice to have plans.
  • Reading: Righteous by Lauren Sandler and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I've been on a bit of a dominionist kick lately, and I'm going to try to see Jesus Camp this weekend if work allows.
  • Watching: Night Stalker, the remake of the 70's cult classic that starred Darrin McGavin--a.k.a. The Old Man. It's a bit of an X-Files ripoff, and I think I'll actually have something to say about that shortly. Of course, Galactica is back for the third season, and it's every bit as good as you'd expect. I will definitely have things to say about it.
  • Walking: the dog. He has turned into a pretty good puppy after all. The cat's trouble, but charming trouble.
  • Playing: The Secret of Monkey Island using PocketSCUMM. It's easier than I remember, and wittier although not as funny, if that makes any sense. Rocket Slime is on the way from Amazon at some point, but frankly I've had no real gaming time lately.
  • Working: overtime. All this weekend, and probably much of next week while the World Forum finishes. There's a lot of voiceovers to be done, and B-SPAN is picking up. Just don't tell my boss: I haven't technically asked to come in after hours, not that it's ever stopped me before.

Updates as events warrant.

August 15, 2006

Filed under: meta»announce»delays

New fuses

Okay, the lights are back on, and everything seems to be where I left it. Guess Neureal fixed their DNS issues. Now, who's got an opinion?

Oh, yes. I do.

I'm typing from a Konsole window on my first Linux installation. I'm impressed by how slick the GUI is, and a little bit amazed at how unhelpful Linux still manages to be. Would it kill you guys to write just a paragraph on (for example) the four different partition formats I'm given? Sure, I can google it, but I probably shouldn't have to.

Also, the live CD (try out the whole OS from a bootable CD before you install) is really slick. But you can't tell me that most people really want to go around downloading a 700Mb ISO before they install. It's such a weird mix of technical savvy and personal cluelessness.

December 22, 2005

Filed under: meta»announce

Crowd Control

You may have noticed that there's been a variety of poorly-behaved commenters frequenting Mile Zero lately. In response, I'd like to make my comment policy perfectly clear, so that trolls can find the line.

  • I don't delete people who simply disagree with me: If you search back through my old political posts, or a few of the gaming threads (I can't remember right now) you'll see some arguments taking place there that sometimes got a little heated. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and although I'm not thrilled about the stress level it sometimes creates, I'm not going to cut them off. So if you have a reasonable response to something I've said, I'd actually encourage you to respond. Everyone loves to see comment counts.
  • With that said, don't always expect a response: The CMS system for Blosxom/Pollxn, which runs this blog, is really nothing more than a clever concatenation of flat text files. It's not sophisticated. My interactions with it are mostly limited to FTP and SSH, which is only as powerful as the user. I've learned to work a few clever tricks, but there is no automated process for comment notification, for example. If you leave a note on an old entry, I won't know until I go looking for it. Moreover, I've learned that silence is usually the best response to arguments I don't find sufficiently convincing or relevant. If I think the argument is going in circles, I try to just stop talking. Don't confuse lack of interest with lack of evidence (I'm looking at you, C-Dawg).
  • Remember, you have no edit rights: Anything you put here, and which I don't delete, will be around a while and may even begin showing up in search engines. If your comments are particularly stupid or offensive, but they don't get cut, consider the possibility that I'm keeping them just because I think they make you look like an idiot. I trust my archives to speak for themselves to visitors, and overall I'm proud of my output here. You should probably treat comments anywhere the same way--and for the record, there have been some great commenters here of whom I'm also proud.
  • Moderation: Comments that don't get deleted are the rule, not the exception. Yet the exception does exist. I will not hesitate to remove comments from visitors who are abusive without providing an argument, who litter unrelated threads with non-sequitors out of spite, or who don't meet a sufficient interest-to-hassle ratio. If you engage in these behaviors regularly, I'll make it a habit to delete your comments without even reading them, which is as close to banning as the system will allow. I may disemvowel comments instead of deleting them, if deletion would break the flow of the thread (i.e., someone's already responded to you). It's nothing personal. I'm just not paying money for server space and traffic every month so that you can harass me, and I don't need the stress. If that's your goal, I can point you to a variety of free hosting solutions where you can vent all the vitriol you want.

What makes a good commenter? I follow a simple rule before I click the submit button. I ask myself: "Does this comment really help explore the original post? Does it give other people something interesting to which they themselves can respond? Or is it just that I want to hear myself talk?" Too many people will leave comments when they don't have anything to say, just because they can. These are especially frustrating, not only for curious visitors, but for the original writers, who feel like their time is being wasted.

It's important to remember that a good commenter faces the same challenge as a writer. They must build credibility and show that they're worth the attention--and if they do so, people will notice. The flip side is you don't start with any credibility at all, which trolls usually forget. Words may sound cutting from that side of the monitor, but to everyone else they're just another anonymous voice with an axe to grind.

Future - Present - Past