Happy and eating

End of the first full day here in South Carolina. It was not as hot as threatened—the thermometer only made it to about 85° F—but with humidity well in excess of 80%, I felt enervated and listless all day. Guess I’ve turned into a bit of a hothouse flower living in the Seattle suburbs, where 85° is generally the hottest it gets and the dew point rarely climbs above 50° F (meaning the humidity is generally too low to be noticed).

Dad and I cooked breakfast this morning. Unlike my uncle’s festive breakfasts, which tend to center around lots of cured, fried pork products, today’s was poached eggs on corned beef hash, asparagus, fresh tomatoes, grits, homemade applesauce, and English muffins—with mimosas to start for Mother’s Day. We were stoking up, anticipating not eating another meal until the barbecue showed up around dinner time.

A note about the pig-pickin’—in years past my uncle had taken a reasonably hands-on role in mixing the barbecue sauce and generally cootering around with his buddies cooking the pig, but this time (given the long cooking time needed for 140 pounds of dressed pig), he left it in the hands of a professional.

Which meant that by the time we washed the breakfast dishes and walked down past the tennis court to the cookshed where the long trailer with the barbecue smoker sat, our chef had already pulled half the pig off the fire, where it had slow cooked since midnight the previous night, and cut it up for leftovers. But the other half was still there for photographing, and as soon as I get a cable to connect the camera to the computer I’ll post some shots.

After that, the day was pretty slow: a tour of the facility in the bed of my uncle’s pickup (during which I picked up a mean sunburn), a quick swim in the afternoon, and, eventually, the barbecue.

This was my first experience with the South Carolina version of barbecue, which is a more tomato-based sauce than what I’ve had before, and features some different accompaniments, including rice and something called “Low Country hash,” which contains, among other things, ground pork meat and liver in a tomato-based sauce and has the consistency of a well-cooked lentil dish. (It was actually much tastier than I’ve just made it sound.)

After that my mom trounced me at Scrabble. And so to bed.

Postscript: For the original reference for the woeful pun that titles this post, see my current listening (or click here), song 5.

In case it wasn’t obvious…

I did get at least dialup access from the place we’re staying and was able to post the two items I wrote on the airplane yesterday (thanks, Brent, for draft posts in NetNewsWire). I also noted that Esta is jealous that she’s not here (for good reason: she has to work today). Cheer up, dear. So far we’ve just had breakfast. Granted, it was a dad and me special, but otherwise you didn’t miss much. Except the mimosas.

An online pubcrawl generator

I’m missing a charity pub crawl in Kirkland today (no direct URL because I’m disconnected, but Google will find it handily). A shame, because I would love to learn more about my neighbors and the businesses in my new home town, and the pub crawl would be a great way to do it. (It also seems like a really smart way to drum up local business in a recessed economy.)

Blogdex to the rescue: next time I want a pub crawl, it looks like I can try using the Up My Street Pub Crawl service to put my own together.

Dumb airplanes, smart mobs, smarter blogs

Reading Howard Rheingold’s Smart Mobs in the airplane this morning between Seattle and Atlanta, it occurs to me that reading books—at least nonfiction books—has become a poorer experience since the advent of the Internet. Part of the power of Rheingold’s writing is its allusive nature: he collects dozens of points of reference and authorities across as many fields of study and assembles them into a pattern. But you’re always aware that there are depths beneath each name that illustrate different aspects of the story, such as wearable computing/cyborg Steve Mann’s collision with the new blunt instrument of airport security, who forcibly unwired him.

Reading such a work on an airplane, without an always-on Internet connection, is a poorer experience because it deprives the reader of the opportunity to check context, collect evidence that informs or opposes Rheingold’s point, and follow lines of inquiry that may digress from the path of the narrative. It also deprives one of access to Rheingold’s Smart Mobs blog, in which he continues collecting, pointing to, and commenting on evidence of the emerging collective, mobile intelligence evolving around us.

At least the laptop provides some measure of disconnected “backup brain”—I don’t know that I would have remembered that the Smart Mobs blog had its own domain rather than a home on Blogspot without NetNewsWire, my RSS aggregator of choice, which gave me the relevant URL when I command-clicked the Smart Mobs blog listing in my subscriptions list. NNW also aggregated my unread headlines as I was finishing my packing this morning, providing me with some supplemental reading material.

Maybe aggregators like NetNewsWire provide the best option for disconnected experiences and travel access to information. They’re certainly a better alternative than the previous iteration of the technology. When I was a software consultant and traveled occasionally, I relied on Lotus Notes and an extensive array of company databases that could be replicated for offline reference. Really, though, I only ever needed a small fraction of the material contained in any of those databases. Providing RSS feeds from blogs, where I can choose my subscription list based on individual providing the information, allows me to make choices based on voice and reduces some measure of information overload.

It’s not perfect, by itself. But next generation tools like Blogrolling.com (for exploring what the people to whom you subscribe are reading), Technorati (for finding out what people are saying about you), and even Weblogs.com (for sheer serendipity—I’ve had some really great random experiences by clicking on the links to blogs I knew nothing about, save that they had posted in the last three hours) help to expand the scope of my interest beyond the “echo cavern” of talking to myself by providing primitive reputation systems and filtering.

What’s the next step? How about a blog recommendation engine for people who don’t themselves blog, maybe based on search patterns or even Amazon purchase history? Google, in addition to recommending Usenet groups or DMoz directories, could recommend blogs that follow your interests, as expressed by your search terms. (This is the real power in Andrew Orlowski’s suggestion in the Register that blogs should have their own Google tab—not getting them out of people’s search results but making it possible to expand the UI into more expressive recommendations.

Of course, on the airplane I can’t do anything about this, for now.