Meetup part 2: The Ancient Mariner

I almost forgot until I saw Anita’s post about the festivities last night. As we introduced ourselves, we talked a bit about ego surfing (Anita is the third Anita, Brent the second or third hit, Jerry the #4). I mentioned that I would always be the second Jarrett, at least as long as NASCAR remained popular and kept Dale’s site highly ranked.

At this the other lady at the table (a large table in the middle of the room with a few random onlookers still seated) stirred. Putting down her drink, she said, “I’m a big NASCAR fan. My number one is Mark Martin.” I said, “That’s great. I guess I have to root for Cousin Dale.” She asked whether I meant “Junior”; I hastened to clarify “Dale Jarrett.” At this she launched into a several minute discussion of how NASCAR wasn’t just popular, it was “grown from hard work”; how Martin was deserving because he had a family and young children; how old she was and how long she had been watching NASCAR; and other details. All at a fairly slow pace, not slurred, but relentless. Being less bold than Coleridge’s Wedding-Guest, I couldn’t stop her with a “Hold off! Unhand me, grey-beard loon!” Eventually I figured out that nodding and smiling silently while maintaining eye contact was the best way to stop the conversation. She moved off and we got on with our meetup.

Am I a sadder and a wiser man? No, but I am still subtly troubled by the conversation. Was she desperately lonely? mentally ill? or just drunk?

Tracking back on the Requiem

Anita blogged my rambling rant about Mozart’s Requiem. Her comments page has good feedback–particularly comment #3 which correctly calls me on my imprecise musical history. No one is really sure why Süssmayer or Mozart chose to end the final movement with the opening angry Requiem theme, and there is a lot of history between Mozart and Fauré. But at the end of the day, all we are left with is the final artifact. And I still argue that the outraged emotion of Mozart is a more adequate response to the World Trade Center attack than Fauré’s peacefulness–at least from where we sit today, one year on.

Back from the Meetup

Just got back from the Seattle blog meetup at the Sit ‘n’ Spin. Decent turnout–at the peak we had seven folks, six of whom blogged. Attendees besides me: Brent, Anita, Nat, Jerry, and C. (whose name I truncate not for privacy’s sake, but because I never quite caught it across the table. Sigh. The hearing is the second thing to go, and I forget the first.) plus C.’s friend “Rusty” who was there for the poetry reading in the back room.

Interesting night. Fun discussion. After some initial effort, we kept from talking about the RSS wars, though it was hard–I don’t think anyone had met a former Userland employee before. But poor C.–the rest of us spent most of the time talking about different weblog packages and programming languages. There is a difference between techbloggers and other bloggers, and I am starting to suspect that for me, at least, it’s the same difference that got me beat up in elementary school. C. was the only one who had the presence of mind to write down everyone’s URL; I’m sure that I’ve gotten at least one of the links above wrong.

Other note: I’m sure glad that Anita posted her picture on her blog; I don’t know how we would have figured out how to find each other otherwise.

Happy birthday to Lisa…

Happy birthday today to my wife Lisa. She has put up with me and has made some very stressful years of school and moving not just bearable but enjoyable because of her continual wit, humor, and energy. Plus she makes sure that I keep on my toes!

Jay gets beta fever

Looks like Jay got into the Xbox Live trial. I guess there’s no NDA on participation :). This is good–we’ll get some really good perspectives from him about how that’s going. The man thinks critically about his gaming, a trait I admire.

First thoughts from Jay: “…the bad news is that I cannot log into the server where I have to register. Evidently, Microsoft is overloaded and cannot handle the situation! Hah, how funny is that, an online service that won’t even let you register.”

I hope it’s just congestion on the backbone between Redmond and Boston…

Reliable data about RSS usage?

Dave and a bunch of folks have been fighting out the question of how to take the next step forward for RSS. This is an important fight, but I have a different question: how big is the RSS market?

Dave has a good idea about the market for producers and consumers of RSS feeds from a tools perspective. But how many websites are out there actually producing RSS feeds? How do they break down by number of unique users–how many 1000 pound sites like the BBC produce RSS to increase their reach? Same questions apply for other syndication formats, too–like the New York Times’ custom headlines format.

Another question: Are websites that have to make a choice to adopt the technology (i.e. RSS syndication doesn’t come from their backend software for free, as it does in Manila, Radio, or Movable Type) doing so to extend the number of people who read their content–simply to grow traffic? Or do they find value in the contributions of people who consume their RSS feeds and comment on them?

Days like this, I wish I were totally self directed and could spin the cycles on figuring this out. But I’m hoping someone out there whose business is in RSS has actually done this. What does the market for RSS generation look like? I’ll be blogging a bit about this for a few days.


Looks like I might actually stir out of my house and make it to the monthly Weblogger Meetup in Seattle. (OK, the fact that Lisa is out of town has a little to do with it; I always feel guilty not spending evenings with her given that she has to be up before 5 every morning.)

I’m trying to talk Brent into going. He says maybe (if he can get his VCR working). Let’s make this a tech blog meeting. If we can get Flangy to show up tomorrow I’ll know we’ve succeeded.


Between a day-and-a-half long class at work, a long rehearsal last night, and taking Lisa to the airport (she’s going to Maine for Kelley’s wedding), I didn’t update yesterday. Did anyone miss me?

Blogging will likely be light on Friday through Sunday–I’m flying out Thursday night to follow Lisa.

Another friend found

I’ve lost touch with many old Glee Club friends since leaving Virginia, so it was a bit of a surprise to see a familiar name attached to a recruiting email asking for participants for a panel discussion with prospective students. But surely he wasn’t an assistant dean?

A little Googling confirms that Shawn Felton has indeed gone up the academic ladder after finishing his Masters in Music. Boy, I’m looking forward to seeing him in a couple of weeks…

Whoah: Sybase ASE on Mac OS X

Sybase has released its core database product, Adaptive Server Enterprise, for Mac OS X Server. I suppose most of you knew that. But I didn’t know until just now that you could download its developer toolset for free.

I spent most of my professional developer years working with Sybase products–both database and the PowerBuilder developer tools, even before they were bought by Sybase–but this is only the second time I’ve had Sybase products on a Mac. The first was a beta release of PowerBuilder 6 for Macintosh, a product that never made it all the way to final production. That today, six years later, Sybase has ported its core product to the Mac platform says a lot both about where the Mac platform is today (i.e., UNIX) and where Sybase is (i.e. with rapidly vanishing market share).

Still there’s something pretty cool about looking at the 52-page Quick Install Guide and seeing the same information I saw about version 12 for half a dozen other UNIX systems…

Source of my boyish good lucks no longer in question.

Herman Brackbill in photo dated 1939.
Courtesy my Dad: a spectacular picture of my maternal grandfather, Herman Brackbill (aka Pop-Pop), ca. 1939. His hairline is about where mine is today…

Pop-Pop was with my parents for a few weeks and by all reports is doing much better than he has been for a while. Esta reports that at my cousin’s wedding he was in great form, cracking jokes and generally having a good time. I look at how he’s doing in his eighties, and remember how my great-grandmothers on that side of the family both were–essentially non-responsive, at least as far as us kids were concerned–and I feel even better about how he’s been.

It better rain soon.

If the rain doesn’t come soon and put an end to our outdoor chores, I may end up dead. I spent about an hour or so on the roof today cleaning the gutters. Most comical thing found in the gutters: a peanut. Still trying to figure out how that got there.

Our late summer lettuce crop crossed the inflection point in the last week. We now have more arugula, frisée, and other mesclun-type stuff than we can consume. Time to start making friends at the office by handing out produce. We just planted some more lettuce, and Lisa transplanted the basil and rosemary into indoor containers–with a little luck we can keep them going all winter.