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Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management. Photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and nature who is exploring the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found.
Author and Blogger. They are not the same thing. Sports occasionally spoken here, especially hockey. Veteran of Sun, Apple, Palm, HP and now Infoblox, plus some you've never heard of. They didn't kill me, they made me better.
Person with opinions, and not afraid to share them. Debate team in high school and college; bet that's a surprise.
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Yearly Archives: 2004
this posting is based on a response to an email I got asking for advice on a problem on a mail list over what some folks see as “proper” behavior and how to convince others to follow it. The answer is not what I think they were expected, and the more I thought about it, I felt it might make an interesting conversation piece on general issues of “usage standards” and online etiquette issues — and it’s very different than I used to think on these issues, so I wanted to air them more generally and see what folks think…
If you have time, a “sanity check” and answers to a couple of questions on the subject of “included text” would be much appreciated.
Our mailing list etiquette document <http://lists.apple.com/tips.html> does ask that users:
“Edit included messages in replies to minimize the amount of text.”
I suspect that for some reason I happen to be particularly sensitive to failure to abide by this.
The key word here is “ask”. there are two classes of things in the list documentation.
They are suggestions, not requirements, for a reason. What you are essentially trying to do is convince everyone to do things YOUR way. think of any social situation, whether it’s top-quoting in email, or cel-phones in restaurants, or talking in movies, or using your stupid turn signals while driving. Even where there is force of law behind it, you have those that wont do it.
Educating folks won’t completely solve the problem, if it is in fact a problem. Some folks don’t know any better. Others, however, have simply decided they prefer it another way, and why should they change for your benefit? How would you react if they came and asked you to change to meet their preferences?
So down this road lies disappointment, madness, anger and in the case of driving, road rage and sometimes, being shot. And even if you avoid most of that, you STILL won’t really solve the problem, because even if you teach everyone who doesn’t know and convince everyone who disagrees, next week, there’ll be new people showing up that simply start the process over for you. So ultimately, the only thing you’re going to do here is frustrate yourself.
I used to be fairly active in trying to educate the community to the “right” way of doing things — and I’ve finally come to the realization there is no one right way. Generational differences (both age based and “how long you’ve been on the internet” generations), and tool differences (which tools you grew up with, where tools like AOL and Outlook encourage a specific style, and other tools tend to encourage one you’re more compatible with) make this really impossible, since many of those folks aren’t in the “don’t know better” class, but in the “this is how I grew up, why don’t YOU change” part instead. And if you think about it, by sheer numbers, AOL and Outlook would win any vote, no?
Think about it from the point of view of a typical user. I’m not typical, by any means, but I have 400ish people in my address book, and a somewhat larger group of people I communicate with, and 15-20 mailing lists I’m involved with in some form or another. Some lists are set reply-to list, some aren’t. Some users hate if you CC them if you mail the lists, others (like me) prefer that you do it. Some top-reply, others don’t. I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep track of who likes what email which way. Even if I could, the most likely response to having to keep track of all the differences in things people prefer. So — I do things the way I’m comfortable with, because the alternative is, basically, silence. Which I know some people might prefer, but we’ll ignore that.
As way of explaining this, imagine I start sending everyone who emails me a note saying “sorry, you MUST email me in 18 point Helvetica text colored red, or I won’t read it” — those are exceptionally arbitrary values, but so are all of these other things (reply-to, cc’s on list mail, top posting replies, etc). Would you actually remember my demand to do email to me MY way? probably not. Would you actually do it? Of course not (unless I was the only person in the universe with the answer to a question and you were desperate, and then, probably not until earlier emails were ignored or rejected). Is it reasonable for me to expect you to contort like that just to send me email? Hell no. (actually, one person I know actually DOES send me email in that format, but he’s just being pedantic and refuses to acknowledge he can’t tell the entire universe to do email his way, and that’s his response to this argument in a previous existence).
And that’s why I’ve come to believe that trying to push personal preferences out to others is the wrong thing to do. You have your preference. But to the other person, you’re one of 100 or so people on one of half a dozen mail lists, and they all have different preferences and standards, and how is that person supposed to keep it straight?
They can’t. And asking them to is unfair. Telling them they HAVE to is arrogant. Neither works, so all it does is create conflict and stress and really doesn’t solve anything useful. So what I tell people today, basically, is to chill. The internet is a diverse universe, and anything that attempts to regulate or limit that diversity is asking for failure — and will get it.
Doesn’t mean education isn’t important. It’s always good to try to set useful standards and get people information they can use to learn — but so is diversity and tolerance and understanding and moving beyond concepts of “one true way”. So what I try to do, and what I encourage people to do now, is not this kind of educational activism (because it won’t work, and actively pisses off some folks), but instead look at what you can control, which is the incoming data stream.
If you have a specific preferences, then you should use what you DO control: your mailbox, your incoming mail stream, your mail client, your computer (and perhaps mail server) to implement those preferences. Instead of telling everyone to send you email in 18 point red helvetica — teach your server or client to display it that way. Anything that really bugs you, the way to fix it successfully is to fix it on your own machine, not attempt to distribute that requirement out to hundreds or thousands of people who might not agree with you and will probably ignore you. It’s a lot more effective to look for technological solutions you CAN control than social solutions you don’t.
And anything you can’t fix technologically, one of the best pieces of advice I ever gave myself was both simple and tough to actually buy into: “get over it”. Learn to relax and just not worry about stuff you can’t fix; I find my life is a lot happier when I’m not tilting at windmills.
For me, it’s a common courtesy — on a list, at least, I appreciate that some people do have different styles in personal communication — to edit out that which isn’t necessary in a response.
But what if we, say, did a survey and found out most people want it the other way? Would YOU change and do it their way? You’re making a basic assumption here that your way is the “right” way, and therefore, everyone else is wrong. it’s a lot more ambiguous in reality, and even if you ARE “right”, it doesn’t matter. Some will disagree, and they’ll just continue being that splinter under your fingernail.
The main issue is to do with space and efficiency: This calendar year’s [[list]] mailbox is 145MB which
is probably at least twice as large as it need be simply because of those who include 40 lines of quote for a two line reply.
Sorry, I don’t have a lot of support for this any more. Disk is cheap. bandwidth is cheap. it’s just not a REAL issue, it’s a perceived one.
Reading individual messages is slower than it could be simply because of the amount of extra work that Mail has to do. Searching is less efficient. And backing up my system is slower etc.
marginally. I just think you’re rationalizing out what you already believe. it’s no longer a real or persuasive argument
One of the behaviours that irks me most is the inclusion of the personalised list “footer” in replied to the list, e.g.
Do not post admin requests to the list. They will be ignored.
[[list]] mailing list ([[list]])
Help/Unsubscribe/Update your Subscription:
This email sent to [[list]]
Which is one sed script away from not being your problem any further. Just modify your archives to fit your preferences.
I have drawn attention to the etiquette document in occasional postings to the list, and in a few cases of particularly egregious transgression mailed individuals off-list. The problem, however, persists, and even some of those I’ve mailed directly continue to “misbehave”.
well, yeah. what if they don’t agree with you? why should your opinion win? You only speak for yourself, not the list, not even the majority of the list, not even necessarily any significant population of the list. Why is there only ONE way this stuff should be done, anyway?
I have three questions for you:
First, am I simply being over-sensitive? This is an irritant for me, but perhaps no-one else is bothered.
I don’t think you’re being over-sensitive. you are what you are. I will, however, phrase it differently, and note that you’re pretty far out on the edge of the bell curve of responses. There’s someone over on the other edge, too, and if you two ever get into an argument, it won’t be pretty… (grin)
Secondly, in especially bad cases, where a user persists in posting short replies with large volumes of quoted text (and where such inclusion isn’t necessary to maintain context) — here I’m thinking of about a 10+:1 ratio, and including the footer — what is a reasonable response? Excluding someone from the list, even on a temporary basis, does seem excessive.
IMHO, none. unless you are the list admin. so if you want to complain to the admin, that’s fine, but it’s up to the admin to ENFORCE things, and frankly, what you want enforced is admitted upfront to be optional (it’s not a rule, it’s a note of etiquette). So — if it were me, I’d probably tell you to relax and learn to deal with the fact that other people do things differently. Hmm. I just did. oh.
Thirdly, might it be possible at least for quoted footers to be automatically excised?
that’s up to the list admin, but I wouldn’t. there are too many other things that really matter that I’d consider higher priorities.
Frankly, I don ‘t see this as the LIST’s problem, but yours. and solving it by telling everyone else to change, instead of changing your local environment, is a failed policy. 20 years of trying to do this on mailing lists and USENET merely proves this to be true, IMHO. So I’d encourage you to look at what you can do to tailor your environment to your own preferences and learn to love (or ignore) the rest, and not try to change the world to match your ideas of what it ought to be. Down that road lies nothing but frustration and anger, and life’s too short for that.
While blogging has been light, I’ve been spending more time away from the computer and catching up some some reading.
Herewith a few of the highlights…
I’ve struggled to find good SF or Fantasy that I find enjoyable. Fortunately, one of the folks I work with recommended Terry Goodkind, and the suggestion was a good one. So far, I’ve made it through “Wizard’s First Rule (Sword of Truth, Book 1)” (Terry Goodkind) and “Stone of Tears (Sword of Truth, Book 2)” (Terry Goodkind), a total of 1800+ pages of type a bit too tiny for these middle-aged eyes, and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly, and in fact, bought the next two books in the series for holiday reading (people who remember me from my days writing OtherRealms probably remember I am not a huge fan of series books. I’m not — unless they’re well written….)
The storyline is classic fantasy. a dark evil challenges the world, and the good people (magicians and others) must struggle to overcome it and protect life as they know it. You have your wizards, and your sorcerors, your good youth who is not what he seems, a love story where fate guarantees they cannot live happily ever after (but of course, love conquers all, maybe). Dragons, great battles, death, destruction, evil beasts….
In the hands of a lesser writer, what you’d have is 1800 pages of chaos. In the hands of many writers today, you’d have 1800 pages of bloated, sloppy prose that would be much better with another round of editing and a 10% cut in word count (but in today’s fictional reality, thick books sell well, so there’s little incentive to make the book better through good editing, something that’s really hurt authors like Scott Card and George R.R. Martin, IMHO).
Each book stands alone, telling its own story within the larger story arc of the series. I found myself pulled in to each volume, sometimes reading late into the night. The characters are strong and multi-dimensional, not convenient puppets, and all have both positive and negative aspects that keep them from being stereotypes. And unlike many series, you don’t hit the end of the book feeling like it was an unresolved stopping point; each of the first two books is a proper ending, even though the larger story arc is clearly to continue.
Goodkind reminds me very much of an early Ray Feist — not afraid to challenge the reader, but not looking to show off with excessive complexity or storylines that defy your ability to keep track of what’s going on. it’s good entertainment AND good writing, unfortunately a rare combination these days. And it’s a series I’m looking forward to crawl back into….
Also on the fiction side, I’ve finally caught up with Steven Brust again, having finally finished off the Viscount of Adrilankha series (“The Paths of the Dead (The Viscount of Adrilankha, Book 1)” (Steven Brust), “The Lord of Castle Black (The Viscount of Adrilankha, Book 2)” (Steven Brust), and “Sethra Lavode (V of A)” (Steven Brust)). This series is Brust honoring a favorite writer of his, Alexander Dumas, and it’s written in the style and language of Dumas (in all it’s flowery glory). This is both the series greatest strength and it’s biggest weakness — the books are amazingly hard to read to this modern-day reader, who sometimes found his eyes turning sideways trying to keep track of what was going on, especially after a long day at work (So you say? Yes, I shall say it!). It ties into the larger universe Brust plays in, and tells the story of the end of the Interregnum and the return of the Orb to the realm of man, and the fight for control of the Orb and the throne.
If you’ve never read Steven Brust, this probably isn’t a good place to start. it’s well-written, but not necessarily easy reading, and assumes some familiarity with Brust’s universe (if you’re interested, I recommend starting with this: “The Book of Jhereg: Contains the Complete Text of Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla (Vlad Taltos)” (Steven Brust)). But with that one restriction, it’s a series I recommend highly. It’s not, though, a series I’d want to read if I was going to be interrupted or unable to concentrate on it (it’s a series for next to the fire, not for the subway…)
Also in the catching-up-with category is another favorite author, Greg Bear. I loved “Darwin’s Radio : In the next stage of evolution, humans are history…” (GREG BEAR) and the premise that our genes would evolve us into newer, more advanced forms. If you could buy into that, the storyline of fear and hatred in society is scary and gripping. The sequel, “Darwin’s Children” (GREG BEAR), however, wasn’t as successful for me. Carrying the story forward, I found it interesting, but as a sequel, didn’t stand up to the original work. the relationships seemed more awkward, the storyline forced. Here is a series where I think what really needed to be said was said in book 1 — and book 2 didn’t really add to the conversation between author and reader, it just added to the word count. While it’s not a bad book, Darwin’s Children just didn’t click with me the way Darwin’s Radio did. Read the first book, borrow the second from a friend who bought it.
Off into non-fiction land, one of the books I took with me to victoria was “Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead the People Who Deliver Technology” (Paul Glen, David H. Maister, Warren G. Bennis) — which I found terribly disappointing. As a geek, it mostly failed the “well, duh!” test with me. I suppose if you just fell off a desert island and got hired to run a group of geeks, it might help you avoid insanity — but it really read like “how to manage programmers 101 for people who think everyone ought to be interchangeable assembly line workers without having them laugh at you and quit” — and I expect the people most likely to need a book like this are unlikely to think they do.
And as usual, I’ve been off playing in military history and naval warfare…
Starting with “Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of : American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II” (JOHN PRADOS) — An interesting evaluation of the intelligence services on both sides of the Pacific war, and how both sides benefitted and were hurt by what they knew and what they didn’t. While the intelligence operations of the US are farily well-known by now, the japanese intelligence organizations and how their navy used them (or didn’t) hasn’t been extensively studied, and this book opens the door to that side of the conflict. What I found most interesting was the look at the politics and personalities of intelligence, with the infighting and turfing that seems to happen among the various organizations. it’s a case, I think, where history can show us things we should strive to avoid, an important lesson today in a time where after 9/11 we saw similar problems between the FBI and CIA, and where we’re still seeing the government try to figure out how to resolve them…
“Battle Ready” (Tom Clancy, Tony Zinni, Tony Koltz), is another book from the Tom Clancy factory, and is primarily an interview (told, intermittently and somewhat chaotically, in both first person and third person for no reason i can figure out) with Retired General Tony Zinni. Zinni was on the ground in Iraq, involved in the Middle East peace process, Afghanistan, Somalia, a former Commandant of the Marines, and carried on a 40 year career that started as an advisor in Vietnam (where he sustained serious injuries). Zinni also has strong opinions on many things, some of which got him in deep trouble with the Bush administration, and in this book, he’s not afraid to share them with you. It’s a fascinating read — his view of the reality of Vietnam is fascinating and likely to change your view of that war. After his involvement with Arafat and Israel, he came away with strong beliefs on why that process has failed, and during his time in the MIddle East, he pushed hard to prepare the military for the need to support the occupation after the war in Iraq was won — and was roundly ignored by the administration and his military peers. As we can see today, there are likely some people who wish they’d paid more attention. An interesting book that’s critical of many people (Clinton as well as Bush), likely to piss off both sides of the political spectrum, but a fascinating look into a number of areas of America’s foreign policy that have been relegated to five-paragraph explanations by the American media, simplifying them to the point of not explaining what’s really going on. Zinni does, and whether you agree with his opinons or not, he’ll give you the background and data that nobody else seems to be making easily available….
“Big Red: The Three-Month Voyage of a Trident Nuclear Submarine” (Douglas C. Waller) — ever wonder what it’s like to serve on a submarine? Times have changed since the days of the U-boats (so wonderfully described in the movie “Das Boot) — but it’s still no luxury cruise. Author Waller was given full access to the USS Nebraska, going on cruise with them and living with the crew. The Nebraska is one of the subs designed to act as a deterrent — it carries nuclear missles, and it’s primary purpose is to not be found (and sunk). it’s a fascinating look at the committment and sacrifices our military (and their spouses) make to protect us, as well as how the sub operates. An interesting perspective into the military life, and an area of the Navy that to date hasn’t been dicussed much.
If you’re curious about military (and naval) history, a good introductory piece on World War II is “War at Sea: A Naval History of World War II” (Nathan Miller) — it would make a good first book to explore this area of our past. I doesn’t go into excessive detail or get bogged down in analysis, making it accessible but still interesting and educational. For those of you (like me) who hated history classes in school, this might be a good first book if you’re curious about WW II, because frankly, history is fascinating — it’s how it’s taught that made us hate it. Make a good christmas gift for someone you know who’s curious about the past but not sure how to get started.
Finally, I happened to run into this book by accident: “Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II” (Robert Kurson) is the story of a group of wreck divers, scuba divers who explore shipwrecks. One of my programmers has recently gotten into scuba, and I’m interested in WW II Naval history and submarines, so a book on both scuba and a lost U-boat off the New Jersey Coast seemed a natural. It was — well written, it’s an account of a group of divers who discover a previously unknown sunken submarine and their search for its identification, and the changes in their lives that this search (an obsession, and not always a healthy one) caused. An interesting read on any number of levels — a non-fiction book that reads like a good thriller, it ought to be a must-read both for submarine geeks and for scuba geeks.
Like most teams, the San Jose Sharks have scheduled their minor league to come into town and has given away tickets to season ticket holders as a way to apologize for the lack of a season, and give us all a bit of a hockey fix. I know some folks are in a “the hell with everyone” mood, but Laurie and I will be there.
I’m not boycotting hockey by any means (looking forward to seeing the Salsa in a few weeks, too) — but I’ve put hockey in the background, and I refuse to plan the spinster maiden waiting for the call that never comes. Once they settle, then I’ll pay attention. until then, I intend to have a life and not waste it on the NHL. It won’t do any good, it won’t speed up the process, and it sends the wrong message. I want them worrying we won’t come back, maybe it’ll hurry things up a bit.
but probably not. Until then, I’m enjoying life ) and spending money we probably would have spent on hockey on other things ). I find I kinda like having my evenings right now, both not having to worry about getting to the arena for a game, and not always having a game on the TV — Laurie and I are catching up on lots of delayed movie watching, thanks to Netflix, and generally not missing the NHL much at all right now.
I highly recommend doing that, too. it’s a lot more fun, and it should scare the crap out of both sides knowing the people who pay their salaries are getting used to not having them around… I don’t really understand the folks who get worked up about this as if they’re a junkie and the NHL is their dealer — all that does is encourage them to think you can’t live without them. Really want this solved? convince them you can.
But with fans, it’ll never happen. And they know it. That’s why fans are ultimately powerless and ignored here.
Here’s one of the reasons why I’ve been kind of missing from the blog recently…
Our master bedroom is tiny — 10 feet by 11.5. Our bedroom set has been around for a while — like, oh, 30 years or so. And it’s large, the proverbial “wall of oak”:
We’ve talked about a new set, but we’ve always decided there are other priorities. More and more, though, I was ready to do something. With Laurie headed up to Seattle on another trip, it seemed a good time to try to surprise her.
I didn’t quite make it — because of work and some other time issues, when she got back, it wasn’t quite done, but it was close. Over the last week, I finished it up, and today, with laurie’s help, we redid the bedroom, pulling out the old headboard, shampooing the (oh god, I shouldn’t have looked at what that pulled up) carpets, re-arranging things and putting in the new headboard I’ve built:
The headboard is made of African zebrawood, finished in danish out, framed in black-painted poplar, and upholstered in a hunter green upholstery. Total cost for building the headboard was between $600-700, and with the new side tables and lamps, the total project cost was about $900.
My first project that involved upholstering stuff, and I think it worked our pretty well. The new headboard only sits about 4″ out from the wall, which allowed us to rotate the bed 90 degrees, and relocate the chests together on one wall. The end result: a room that feels much roomier, there’s more room to walk around the bed (less kicking it as I try to crawl into bed without waking laurie up), and the wall that’s going to be the new closet is now unencumbered with furniture. Oh, and instead of two 50 watt heat lamps pointing straight down at your face, we have more lighting, and independently controllable lamps, so I can read while Laurie crashes. and if we want, we can
and — laurie likes it. And so do I. And it’s definitely not something you’re going to find at Levitz, that’s for sure.
Unlike Laurie’s new office secret project a couple of months ago, she knew something was going on, just not what (who else do you think I was asking where to find things like upholstery fabric? — for the record, the folks at Calico Corners rock. Very helpful with a relative newbie to all of this.
The fabric panels are plywood, backed with 2″ of high density foam and a layer of batting, and then everything was put together using pocket screws and my new kreg jig. Still to come: new chests (we have a set tentatively picked out), drapes on the window to replace the mini-blinds (or perhaps roman blinds, or something. anything but the “dorm” look), new carpets, and then paint. None of the interior has been painted since we moved in here (has it really been ten years?) and some of it needed it then — but we’ve been working more on the exterior and “bones” of the house (which is the smart thing to do, but it’s damn nice to see stuff being made nice again that you can see….)
Interesting project, with a number of new techniques. It also gives me some confidence both in the skills I’ll need for some upcoming projects (one reason I did this now was if I screwed it up, I could tear it apart and not worry about it — my next project modifed the house itself as I get going on the new fireplace facade), and that my workshop finally allows me to, well, work.
I’ve also spent the last month of weekends shutting down the front yard for the fall, cutting down all of the irises, trimming back the roses, and pulling all of the weeds (well, first round of weeds. In a couple of weeks, I’ll go out and roundup the stuff that comes up to try to slow down the damned bermuda grass) — and dropped 20 sacks of redwood bark as mulch. finished just in time for this first rain storm of the season. here’s hoping it stops again and gives me a couple of weeks to clean up the back and get the spring bulbs into containers… but even if not, it’s great doing my fall cleanup in, well, fall instead of February like I have the last couple of years.
Up front, the fall daisies are still going at it, the rhodie is doing a little blooming for some reason, the irises are in for one final round of blooms, and we still have some roses going at it, and the Dahlias haven’t given up, although they’re slowing down and getting ready for their winter sleep. So we will have some color, and will into November. And then it’ll all start up again sometime in January…. (those of you in snow country, just grimace quietly…)
nice to finally finish something up, and have it come out as planned, and really look good.
(yes, I’m an admitted HGTV Geek. And the inspiration for the headboard came from an episode of The Designer Guys, out of Toronto and HGTV Canada, and found on Discovery Home here in the States. And I have to admit — their new series, Design Rivals, simply isn’t as good. the original series was about design, and the two had a good, interesting chemistry because they didn’t see eye to eye on things. Design Rivals is more oriented towards playing up the rivalry, which many episodes comes across as false and forced, and the design aspects are stuck in as an afterthought; I can see why they did it, since the disagreements created the spark that made the first series interesting, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired for me….)
Anil talks about problems within the blogosphere as it grows up…
And more or less asks the question “can’t we all get along?”
And the answer is, unfortunately, no. It wasn’t true for USENET way back when. Or mailing lists. or e-mail. or the Internet in general. And it’s not true for blogging, either, because, whether you like it or not, blogging, like all of that other stuff, is attached to real life, and physics wins.
When a technology is new, it’s generally used by a small group of people who generally have a like-minded attitude. But if a technology succeeds, its usage grows, and it starts attracting new users. This is good. But as the group of users grows, it loses that intimacy and cohesiveness, and people start using it who have their own ideas and agendas different than the originators.
It’s a genie you can’t put back n the bottle, nor should we try. The simple fact that “we are bloggers” doesn’t make us immune to the factors that affect us in real life — because we still live in the real world, too.
I look at it this way: it’s the difference between having a cup of coffee in your house with a few close friends and driving down to the local coffee shop (which may or may not be full of people you like or don’t like), or grabbing a cup at a baseball game in a stadium full of fans. We don’t expect the same kind of control over our environment at the coffee shop or the stadium that we have in our living room — so why do we keep expect that we can open up our virtual living room to strangers by making our technologies available, and assume somehow we’ll only attract those we are compatible with?
It wasn’t true 20 years ago on USENET, although we tried our damndest. And it’s not true now, and never will be true. So technologies and communities need to accept that up front and plan for it (and design for it), or else make a conscious choice to stay in that virtual living room. Because we’ve all seen what happens when a stadium full of people push into the living room demanding coffee now, dammit, and all we have is a single Mr. Coffee.
As you grow and reach out, you lose the ability to dictate the character of the community. This can be distressing at times, and stressful to the community, but it’s also a godsend, because it adds vitality and diversity and prevents the kind of inward/exclusionist mindset that communities that strongly dictate attitudes tend to get. And I dunno about you, but I’d rather put up with a little chaos than an environment that refuses to accept any…
Last week was going to be Opening night in San Jose. Except there’s no season.
I know some of my hockey friends are going crazy over the lockout. My attitude is different: life is busy, life is full. I refuse to sit at home like someone waiting for that last minute invite to the senior prom I know isn’t going to happen. Let the NHL and the players solve their problem, and then when they’re ready, I’ll decide if I care.
Until then, there’s our trip to Victoria (go Salsa!) in a few weeks, and perhaps we’ll wander up to Duncan and catch the Cowichan Valley team, too. And there’s AHL/CHL hockey popping up on various channels – but to be honest, I’m just not that motivated right now. And college hockey is gearing up, which is moer interesting. But Laurie and I are spending time getting stuff done, and catching up on our NetFlix backlog, and actually watching a few movies and things..
And I’m finding that right now, I don’t miss the NHL. Maybe if more fans felt like that, owners and players would pay more attention to the fans. But don’t hold your breath.
Eric Duhatschek has a great piece on some of the problems in NHL-referee-land.
I was, and continue to be, a supporter of the two referee system in the NHL. But the last year or two, since Van Hellemond came on board, it seemed to be in failing. Beyond that, referees I always felt were quality refs were getting crap assignments, missing the playoffs, etc, while others (Marc Joanette, for instance) that didn’t impress me seemed to be well regarded (I’ll give Joanette credit — he’s really improved since his early games, which were painful to watch).
I just finally wrote it off to not really watching the refs as critically as I used to. But maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t as wrong as it seemed.
This is going to be a tough nut to fix. the referees have a thankless job, and it’s been worse because of the general lack of backbone in supporting them by the league office. As tough as the ref’s job is, the job of their boss is worse, because he has to be that backbone. Van Hellemond could have been, but wasn’t — and it seems like there may have been other things going on as well, what with the “lend me $10 today for a hamburger” thing, and now the implications of favoritism to canadians over americans?
Just what the NHL needs. Of course, if they’re really looking for someone who’s sympathetic to both the issues the refs face and what the league needs as well, who has a decent feel for what a well-reffed game is, and is willing to both call refs on the carpet and stand up for them as needed, I’d stand for the job. But – I’d have two requirements to take it. First, referee disciplinary actions need to be made public, just like player ones are. and second, I need permission to publicize every time a coach or GM calls me to bitch about a call, and be able to post video showing why they were right (or mostly, wrong), so fans have more of a feel just what kind of pressure is applied to these guys.
Because really, coaches and GMs are united in only one thing, I think: they all want the reffing improved and the game cleaned up and obstruction and etc called — on all of the other teams.
their teams, of course, don’t DO that. all those calls are wrong.
Well, Laurie and I have been doing just that for a decade or so (or, more correctly, before there were web sites, it was mailing lists). If you include our use and involvement in various USENET communities and my time on other systems like Delphi and CompuServe, our experience with this goes back about 20 years (sigh. where’s my walker?)
Why do we do it? there are, honestly, days when we ask ourselves that question and don’t have an answer. The turkeys and trolls exact a toll, and some days, you feel it’s just not worth it.
But it is — we get to build things that encourage people to gather, and more specifically, people we enjoy being around. When it works, it’s a lot like an extended party full of people you enjoy being around and talking to. But when the turkeys get under your skin, it’s easy to forget the dozens of good people because of the one or two bad.
There’s a long tradition of this that predates the net — most fan groups have a sub-group that enjoys putting on conventions or conferences. In science fiction fandom, they’re SMOFs (Secret Masters of Fandom), and they actually have their own convention on running conventions.
For me, it’s a rewarding hobby that introduces me to really interesting and fun people, with short interludes of absolute agony. And I think most folks who do this eventually find that the trolls win, because there are always new trolls and you eventually run out of the energy to fight them. Laurie and I have come close, and occasionally “taken vacations” (announced or not) to get our batteries charged up again or regain our perspective on all of this. And as we’ve gotten older and wanted more of this weird thing some folks call “a life”, we’ve backed off on how many things we do, and how many folks we support, to reduce our workload; I think it was a smart move to focus on the groups we felt were most important to us than continue trying to work on all of them when some were simply not getting enough of our time.
But the bottom line is — you do it because you enjoy it, or you’ll do it badly. and doing it badly is worse than not doing it at all, because if you don’t do it, someone else will likely step in and do it instead. And because of that — it’s always my belief that when it stops being fun, you should stop. If it’s useful, someone else with more time and energy will pick up the reins and carry it forward. the world doesn’t begin and end with one person, nor should it.
Kevin Schofield: I ask you: how can you keep a straight face when protesting the judging in a so-called “sport” where the main goal is to beat your opponent unconscious?
The problem with Kevin’s comment is that this isn’t what amateur boxing is about. Amateur boxing is about technique and dominance. Do knockouts happen? Yes. But the rules are designed to protect boxers as much as possible. It’s about being better than your opponent, not hurting them.
It’s when they turn pro that the bread and circuses come out. Pro boxing is an abomination, but one with a long history.
But don’t think that they’re the same, just because they use the same equipment.
it’s legalized assault, and it’s glorified violence
so is wrestling, judo, american football, the way the NBA plays basketball, ice hockey, field hockey, water polo (watch the under water cameras, or try playing it yourself)… And pretty much any sport where you’re competing against others directly instead of against other performances.
Put two people in a ring against one another, and guess what? conflict happens. that’s human nature. Been that way since two bored cavemen picked up sticks next to the fire and beat on each other to see who was sleeping with the sheep that night.
New submarine book: Rising Tide, the Untold Story of the Russian Submarines that Fought the Cold War by Gary Weir and Walter Boyne. Weir is a historian at the US Naval Historical center, and Boyne is a former director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
The book is an attempt to chronicle Soviet military strategy for submarine warfare from about the end of World War II through the end of the Cold War and how it affected both Soviet and US policies during that time. There is some interesting material based on interviews with retired Soviet submariners, but overall, I felt the book was average — not a lot of depth, and it couldn’t quite figure out what story it wanted to tell, so it kept moving back and forth from technical to personal to political, and never really doing any of them true justice.
One of the stronger aspects of the book is discussing the problems inherent in working within the Soviet system, where quality control was many times questionable (and attempting to work in an environment that was, at best, unforgiving to flaws). A detailed discussion of the Kursk disaster also is intereting, but didn’t shed any real new information to me, and I don’t claim to have studied the incident seriously.
I useful and readable book, but it could have been much better. Not up to the quality of, say, Blind Man’s Bluff, which covers much of the same material from the American standpoint. But definitely readable. give it 3 out of 5.
As we were leaving the Clapton Concert (July 30, HP Pavillion), a woman exiting at the same time turned to her partner and said “I’m disappointed. he didn’t interact with the audience at all!”
that may have been the biggest complaint about the concert. And it was wrong — Clapton did interact with the concert; he just did it with his guitar and his voice. I can’t imagine Eric Clapton staring out at the crowd and yelling “hey, Detroit! clap your hands!” with false enthusiasm — can you?
San jose was stop 56 on Clapton’s 57 city tour. If any band had an excuse to show up tired and go through the motions, this one did. But from start to finish, it was an energetic, intense, artistic performance, starting with Robert Randolph and the Family band’s 45 minute opening act. Randolph and his steel pedal guitar pumped up the energy in the building from the first bars (Laurie is currently lusting for one. I keep pointing out that the instruments in the hands of a white person would turn out hawaiian music… snicker).
After about a half hour break, Clapton’s crew came out, and played for almost 2 hours. A good overview of the concert is here. I can’t add a lot to it. All of the artists were in good form (Branham seemed under the weather, and I never saw him sing — but he played a hell of a set, even if he seemed in pain at times. Or perhaps, that’s his zone, but it seemed maybe a bit of both); most impressive to me were (other than Clapton, of course), billy preston and chris stainton on the two keyboards, but everyone kicked.
I like to judge a concert by how the crowd reacts. If the crowd is into it, the concert’s working. If it’s lifeless, or milling or distracted (like at Fleetwood Mac), then the group isn’t doing it’s job. Not only was this crowd electric the whole evening — when Clapton went into wonderful tonight, you saw couples all over the arena stand up and sort of dance together in place…
Awesome evening. I’ve seen clapton once before, when he was touring songs of his blues roots (another awesome concert….) — first time I’ve seen him do his own material — and it more than lived up to expectations.
new study attempts to compare injury rates, and tie it to rink size. it seems to completely ignore differences in playing styles between the various leagues, or the different size of players, or game intensity.
Hey, if you studied injury rates in pre-season games vs. playoff games, you’d see a big difference, too. So I guess all hockey games should be pre-season games. Safer that way…
(this is not a well-controlled or thought-out study, IMHO. Much as I wish we could find some answers to the concussion problems in the league…)
I need to admit this up front — I have a love/hate relationship with Fleetwood mac. I love Stevie Nicks’ voice, and Lindsey buckingham as a guitar player, and when she was with the group, Christy McVie’s vocals. But there’s another aspect of the group, when buckingham starts singing, where I just want to scream. When buckingham is doing his material, I just want to yell “Stonehenge” and go find something else to do.
So when it was announced that Fleetwood Mac would be playing San Jose, Laurie and I talked about it and gave it a miss. And then the Sharks made us an offer we couldn’t refuse — free floor seats, since we’re long-time sharks season ticket holders. At the price, how could you go wrong? So that’s how we ended up at the concert. And normally, with HP Pavilion’s wonky acoustics, I’d rather stay off the floor, anyway.
I’ve seen the group a couple of times before — the previous time in 82 or 83 in Oakland, when they were originally going to play with the Cars, and had to reschedule because Nicks lost her voice (so we ended up with Glen Frey as the opener, trying to prove he didn’t need the Eagles)
Prior to that, I saw them (sharing a bill with War) in Las Vegas, way back about 1973. And, in fact, I did walk out on them that night, thinking that the girl on the piano was pretty good, but man, I wish that guy would shut up… (some things never change….)
So back to HP Pavilion. Mick Fleetwood has grown up to look like Peter Boyle in Young Frankentstein. John McVie looks like, well, my dad, which always freaks me when I see my parents playing in a rock band (the joys of middle age). Lindsey seems to be channelling John Mcenroe. Stevie Nicks looked like if she did any more botox, she’d be immobile…
but, you know? what matters is the music…
Touring with the core members were a keyboardist (who’s name I’ve lost), two female singers (immediately nicknamed “high” and “note”), who were stuck as far to the edge of the stage as possible without having to buy tickets (their job: christy McVie’s parts, and covering Nicks’ lost range), a spare guitarist, a spare keyboardist/synth, a spare bassist, a kick-ass percussionist, and hidden way, way in the back a third drummer.
In other words, Fleetwood Mac is touring with a Fleetwood Mac cover band, on stage at the same time. Which came in handy a lot.
It was, in a word, a weird concert. Nicks started out struggling with her voice, but it finally kicked in. Buckingham seemed completely unable to match her in harmony for the first couple of songs (which had Laurie and I doing the ‘oh, oh” look at each other), but it finally more or less clicked in, although he struggled to stay in harmony all night. Nicks never had a huge range (9 notes? 10?), and it’s narrowed over the years, but who cares? it’s how she uses it, not how far it wanders….
but we (and the crowd could never quite figure out whether the group really wanted to be there or not.
You know, if buckingham wants to do the “dance the guitar riff tango” thing, that’s fine. It’s not a rock concert, I guess, unless you have someone doing the air guitar thing (while your cover is actually playing the music in the back…), threatening to trash the guitar, and overall, acting like a 14 year old in the garage pretending to be Jimi — but Buckingham did it four times during the concert. Hate to tell you this, Lindsey, but that act gets really tired. fast. (a quiet voice whispers “stonehenge”)
And that’s mostly how the concert went: when the band was doing Stevie Nicks stuff, the quality and energy ranged from “contractual obligation professional” to “pretty darn good”. When buckingham took lead (and let Nicks rest her voice), it got very, well, Spinal Tap. the band never really tried to connect with the audience, and the audience repaid the favor; lots of rustling and talking and cel phones and wandering around, and looking at watches was going on. Most of the band seemed going through the motions, except for Buckingham and Fleetwood; buckingham seemed intent on playing “look at me, I’m so great” all night (four smash the guitar ballets? sheesh), but have I noted I’m not really a Buckingham fan? (except when he shuts up and plays…)
Fleetwood and the percussion was, well, Fleetwood. kicked butt. animated. having fun. a bit scary at times, given how much he looked like Boyle… (grin). He and his fellow drummers were the best of the show most of the time (and I have to be honest, I kept hearing more drums than two guys could do, and I was wondering what was going on — it wasn’t until the end of concert intros were done that I realized there was a third drummer hiding in the back of the stage, which explained all of the sweeetening…
One of the great frustrations of the night was the percussion solo by Fleetwood. It didn’t show up until almost the end of the show, but when it did, it electrified the audience. Just turned them on and plugged them into the show — just as it was ending. And then Fleetwood carried it on, and on, and on; something like 20 minutes of watching him drum and prance (with drum machines on a vest) all over the stage. What started as a high energy, electric and great drumming turned into a painful, “how long will he carry this on?” torture; it wasn’t just me, either — I watched as increasing clumps of the audience started streaming to the exits rather than wait for the finale. my guess is between 5-10% of the audience left during his drum piece.
and that’s too bad — if he’d put that drum piece 20 minutes into the concert, and kept it to reasonable levels, they’d ahve owned that audience all night. As it was, much of the show was “going through the paces” with no real connect or energy, and when they finally did ramp it up and get the crowd going, it was way too late, and then they screwed it up again by carrying it on, and on, until we wanted to scream.
So ultimately, it was an occasionally good, mostly frustrating show. Most of the band coasted, except for Buckingham and Fleetwood, and they seemed more interested in showing off than entertaining. Maybe you like like kind of excess — but I sure didn’t, and from the number of folks fiddlign with stuff or just sitting there passive (or, later on, leaving), I wasn’t alone.
Next time, even if the tickets are free, I think I’ll pass.
Since I’m in a musing mood and relecting on the Clapton concert the other night, perhaps a few semi-related notes on me and music might be fun…
As a kid, I never had much of a formal introduction to music; my family’s taste was oriented towards 50′s crooners (think Ed Ames). I successfully avoided piano lessons, but instead, took up clarinet. Also, early on, it was drama, which means, of course, musical theater. Hello, Dolly!, South Pacific, and Oklahoma! are all still guaranteed to generate hives…
The early days, if you think about it, didn’t lend itself well to improvisation. Technically, I was a rather good musician (by 7th grade, I was 1st chair 2nd clarinet all county, and mid-chair first clarinet) — give me a score and I could master it. Put me in a group and I could play to it. stick me on a stage and tell me to just wing it, watch me freak. The perfect kind of orchestra drone, if that’s what you want… (and that’s not a complaint, either).
After 7th grade, orthodontia started, and woodwinds stopped. I was encouraged to switch (I wanted oboe, but was vetoed again — I still, honestly, don’t have a clue if the orthodontist had a clue or not about this), so I tried trumpet, then tuba; frankly, I found the brass family cold and uninteresting, so I more or less dropped out, and worried more about the drama side of life.
In high school, I discovered rock and roll — Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Three Dog Night, Deep Purple. (it wasn’t rock unless it was heavy…). One of the joys of iTunes is going back into my youth and rediscovering my old favorites, and seeing what holds up over time. I’m now a happy owner of all of the above, except for the Black Sabbath, which I now write off as youthful naivete or something.
After high school, I went to work at Disneyland for a few years. Not only did that reinforce my inherent disney-geekness (“in the tiki-tiki-tiki-tiki-tiki room”), it gave me access to something I hadn’t known about. At that time, Disney did a continuing summer series of swing at Carnation Gardens — I fell in love with a musical style for the first time (who cares that it belonged to my parent’s teen years, not mine). Basie played there at the time, Glenn Miller’s orchestra, others. Of course, I fell in love with Benny Goodman, but also Buddy Rich — and louis. It also exposed me to Honkytonk (just go sit in Coke Corner; it’s the same piano player as it was when I was working there, and he’s still amazing), and dixieland. I tried guitar once or twice, never stuck with it, but got fairly good at ukelele, for a while. but it just wasn’t high on the priority list of life.
But over time, music faded from the scene, pushed out by other aspects of life. I wasn’t playing, and I just wasn’t that interested in listening. It stayed at best a casual interest, after I also dropped out of the drama scene as well.
And that’s more or less where it sat for a long time. Some things grabbed my attention — theatrically, I became a fan of Webber (for his theatrics) and Fosse (now, can you name two styles so diametrically opposed?) and Gilbert and Sullivan; Laurie and I started attending Scottish festivals, which introduced me to bagpipes; somewhere along the line discovered steel drums .
Suffice it to say my musical background is, well, eclectic. And about four years ago, after years of mostly hibernation, it started waking up again (it’s not alone, a number of things from early in my life that I’d put aside have come back and rejoined me, such as my woodworking). and then came iTunes.
I’m in deep trouble. Although — dammit — I keep complaining because Rhino Records isn’t on the store. they’re tired of hearing it from me, too. (grin) (what’s on Rhino? how about Emerson, Lake and Palmer? I”m a huge analog synth fan…)
How eclectic? here are the concerts Laurie and I have gone to in the last year: Paul McCartney (twice), Eric clapton, Fleetwood mac, and Bette Midler. I also seriously considered Sarah McLachlan but the timing didn’t work (I’m also going to try to see Lion King before it leaves town, and I wanted to see Starlight Express, but it also didn’t work out). thanks to iTunes, I’ve finally started exploring classical music (especially baroque strings) and opera (Wagner’s Ring, in german. no kidding). And other stuff. It makes it so easy. Anbd everything I run into points to something else new, something else to explore. how wonderfully scary. I’ll probably wander off after Bach soon, then Brahms.
For me, concerts are fascinating events. Since I did so much tech crew (and at one point, I was theater/tech major, and dabbling in set design, before computers took over), concerts exist on many levels — I not only lose myself to the music, I find myself dissecting it, isolating the parts, critiquing the artists, and watching the crew and the results. Studying technique, studying the tech. But not too much; I’m there for the music.
If my first musical life was as technician, this musical life is one of exploration and examination. I’ve come to appreciate the subtle beauty of a bagpipe, the high energy clarity of steel drums; a good guitarist makes my day, an artist like clapton leaves me stunned, raptourous in tears. I’ve always been fascinated by the drummers — that’s beyond my ability, pure and simple, and the only thing that would come out of putting me behind a drum set is a call to 911 asking for the jaws of life to get me back out. And synths. Blame Keith emerson and rick wakeman, and blame Three Dog Night.
Back in high school, mid-70′s, they played a concert in Anaheim. Opening act was Neil Sedaka, of which less said the better. But that tour, they were touring with a guy called “the wizard”, owner of this huge, fascinating thing called a Moog. entranced, but I had no access to one, and it remained a “gee, wow” kind of thing. One can only wonder if I had gotten my hands on one, how things might have been different.
Just look at the technology today, though — for christmas, Laurie bought me a synth (yamaha PSR225-GM), which I love, but work, life and lack of time has limited how much time I’ve had to learn and practice, but I keep hoping that’ll change. and apple’s brought garage band, which is amazing to hack with (but see “time, lack of”).
And I’ve told myself after I get decent at keyboard — I’m buying myself a bass. or two. Laurie has her Dean spanish acoustic (but no time….), but after the Clapton concert, is lusting after a slide guitar (as played by robert Randolph and the Family Band, an awesome opener, but more on that later)… (as I put it — put that baby in the hands of a white guy, and you get hawaiian music!)
What’s in my iTunes right now? Here’s a highlight: 78th Fraser Highlanders, Alice Cooper, Artie shaw, PDQ Bach, Bare Naked Ladies, Bela Fleck, Billy Joel, Buddy Rich, Duke ellington, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Guess who, Ian Anderson, Police, Quarterflash, Richard Wagner, Royal Scots Dragoon Guard, Queen, the Tubes, Warren Zevon, the who, and Mozart.
Beware of party shuffle, it will fry your mind.
And, you know? I keep thinking about buying a clarinet again. But I don’t want to split my time and make it even harder to get my keyboarding going… But — I have plenty of time, the rest of my life.
you know? If I work at it, I could probably do a decent Benny Goodman cover.