A shakeup at Userland?

Looks like things are moving over in Userland, where (except for Dave, who is after all only majority shareholder now, having given up the CEO-ship when he took his fellowship) only Lawrence’s blog and the product news page have been active in the past month. Yesterday two significant happenings: John Robb announced that he was no longer working at Userland (shortly thereafter his blog was removed from the company’s servers), and Dave reported that part of his trip back west next week is to address some things about the company (he had previously alluded to “moving some servers”).

For unrelated reasons, I couldn’t sleep last night, and dreamt that someone wrote on their blog about the whole scenario: “follow the brown acid.” And that Brent had made so much money from NetNewsWire that he was going to buy out UserLand. I’m not sure that’s any weirder than what is really going on.

BlogTheVote: Taking Open Government to the Next Step

Open Government Information Awareness still isn’t fully functional, but it’s getting there. I can now dig in and get full information on my representative and both my senators, for instance—including campaign contributions.

What’s missing—and who should add it? Links into information about what the politicians are doing would be helpful. Also, I miss the human voice. To this end, I suggested a public group blog to cover the elections a while back (at Lazyweb), and it looks like KnitWit has taken it upBlogTheVote.org is registered but looking for organizers and designers—and ideas.

My feature request remains the same: first person coverage of campaign stops and actions, in a way that makes it possible to drill candidate actions by geography, issue, and contributor. Also, it shouldn’t replicate OpenGov, but link into it.

Other thoughts?

QTN™: Mestreech’s Aajt

The beer club that I belong to is starting to cut corners. This is the second shipment that’s arrived without tasting notes. Which is unfortunate, because I know less than nothing about Mestreech’s Aajt, the magnificent Dutch beer I’m currently drinking, except that it’s outstanding.

It’s a brown ale with a very light head. The initial taste is a shocker—bracing, tart, and sharp with a slight note of sweet malt behind it. Very reminiscent of classic Rodenbach, which makes me wonder what it’s doing coming from Holland. A great, refreshing summer beer.

In the Bellevue Botanical Garden

We spent some time yesterday in the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, which were more impressive than I would have believed. With a dedicated ground cover garden, a low-water-use garden, and a huge array of perennial flowers and trees, the gardens were gorgeous. I got a few pictures with my phonecam. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of Ciscoe, who was there prepping for a show and looking over the garden. Actually, it was probably just as well.

Total Information Awareness ju-jitsu

In a neat reversal of the government’s proposed Total Information Awareness scheme, MIT’s Media Lab has launched Open Government Information Awareness. As the FAQ notes:

The premise of GIA is that individual citizens have the right to know details about government, while government has the power to know details about citizens. Our goal is develop a technology which empowers citizens to form a sort of intelligence agency; gathering, sorting, and acting on information they gather about the government. Only by employing such technologies can we hope to have a government “by the people, and for the people.”

Anyone can submit information, and the system is designed to allow citizens to drill down into their specific areas of interest about government and see everything that’s going on about that particular level of government. Or at least it appears to be designed that way; the server has fallen over under heavy load right now. I look forward to seeing how it shapes up.

On the nation’s birthday, hope

Thomas Jefferson is on my mind, as he is every July 4th (I wouldn’t be a good Wahoo otherwise, I suppose). I wonder whether today, looking out at the world, and at his own United States, he would still feel the same as he did in 1821, when he penned the following to John Adams:

The flames kindled on the Fourth of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.

And there’s another optimistic note that seems to speak directly to today’s nation:

The spirit of 1776 is not dead. It has only been slumbering. The body of the American people is substantially republican. But their virtuous feelings have been played on by some fact with more fiction; they have been the dupes of artful maneuvers, and made for a moment to be willing instruments in forging chains for themselves. But times and truth dissipated the delusion, and opened their eyes.

History repeating

Given what they say about those who fail to learn from history, it should come as no surprise that Lisa and I decided to tackle boating on Lake Union again, almost two years after the last time we tried it. This time, things were a bit different. For one thing, we rented a kayak, not a canoe, so we were both facing the same direction when we paddled. This helped our overall direction immensely.

Also, this was a sea kayak, which apparently comes standard with a rudder. Which seems almost like cheating, really. (This time, instead of Moss Bay, we rented from Northwest Outdoor Center. I had meant to rent from Moss Bay, but couldn’t remember the name. You’d think I’d remember to check my own weblog, wouldn’t you? Not today, apparently.) Naturally, the foot controls for the rudder were confusing enough that we ended up running into a buoy shortly after leaving the slip. Fortunately we didn’t get pulled over by the police, who were keeping all boats away from the area beyond the buoys, in the center of which sat the fireworks barge for tomorrow night’s extravaganza.

So we paddled down around the south end of the cordoned off area, then came around to the north and east (past Ivar’s, which smelled like smoking alder planks), and around south—not into Lake Washington, but down along the houseboats in Portage Bay. Then back.

As before, my right arm experienced some difficulties paddling after a while. At a few points my fingers went numb and fell asleep. I’m probably looking at some potential RSI there, I’m afraid. The good news is that we got the kayak back after two hours, I went home and slept for an hour, and all appears to be OK.

Car wheels on a gravel road, nose in a book

When I was little and in the back of my parents’ station wagon, summertime was a happier time. Going back a long way, being allowed to run around in an overgrown field in the North Carolina mountains was almost worth having to have the tick removed afterwards. In the nearer past (say when I was 10 or so), summer was when the library opened its doors all the way and I started falling into the spaces inside. For a long time, summer days were lawn mowing in the morning, slow cooling off in the afternoon with a book and a glass of mint tea.

I thought about that this morning on the way in, reflecting on my more recent summers. This summer is all about work and the garden. Last summer I was free from my MBA program, trying to figure out which way was up, and about to start work. Two summers ago I was waxing philosophical about a lot of things and slowly learning to open my mind to my own feelings and emotions.

I think my task this summer is to recapture that earlier innocent state in which I could happily enjoy the heat and disappear into another world, while still engaging with my friends and family. One good thing that’s happened over the last 20 years is that I’ve started learning to be happier outside the confines of my own head. I like that trend. The trick will be in continuing it.

(Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I have so many librarians blogrolled. I don’t need any convincing that I should fall to my knees and worship a librarian. Librarians got me through a lot of long hot summers!)

8-Bit Joystick: Why You Should Buy Used CDs

Jake at 8-Bit Joystick writes about used CDs, and the fact that you can buy them—quite legally—without the RIAA ever seeing a red cent. Right on.

I used to buy quite a few CDs used from Plan 9 in Charlottesville, but have had only spotty luck finding a good place to shop since then—with one notable exception, a store in Vienna, VA, whose name I can’t remember but which provided me with a copy of the CD single of Lamb’s “Gorécki.” I still think my favorite used cd story, though, is the time that I sold a stack of sad selections at the end of a semester to Plan 9—for gas money so I could go home to see my parents. Yes, this was well before business school, but even then I could see the irony of my having invested in an asset that depreciated by 66%.

Feeling contemplative

I finished HPATOOTP last night, having started it when Lisa finished it on Saturday. It’s quite a read: no pretending it’s a children’s book any more, not with the themes of responsibility, death, rage and grief that are wound through the narrative.

Perspective on recent “crises” in my life is around me everywhere I look. Dave writes that Dave Jacobs needs a kidney to survive, suffering from the same degenerative kidney disease that killed his brother two years ago. Katherine Hepburn, the class act of class acts, is gone. So is Robert McCloskey of Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal. And so is Esta’s friend’s father, killed in a motorcycle accident by an asinine SUV.

For all that, it’s a time of new starts for me. My company’s fiscal year ended yesterday, our group just re-orged, and I have the opportunity to use some of my organizational and strategic skills to help shape our new direction. I like a challenge the first day of a new month; it feels like opportunity.