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What a hectic time since my last post.

* my brother got married
* my wife and I found out we were expecting a child
* I got a new job (as a contractor)
* our son, Desmond, was born
* our second cat (Felix) passed away
* I got hired as a full-time employee

Desmond is asleep now, and my wife and a friend are watching Glee from the never-ending netflix / roku font. I'm guessing I have another hour or so until Desmond wakes up and I'm summoned to head to bed.

I'm in my basement going through old hard drives, identifying the dead ones for recycling, reformatting, doing some limited benchmarking, doing some updates, and generally trying to figure out how to move my basement datacentre forward from its current static and dusty state. I realize how much I miss the sounds some of these make, and am setting them aside to make some recordings before they are passed on.

I figured I had to start somewhere.  knock the dust off and clear the kipple.
  • Listening to: Lost Deep House Trax
  • Drinking: Fuller's 1845
dA is still around.  hopefully it's thriving.  it's been long enough that I don't know if I'd recognize $mccann if I ran into him on the street.  $pinguino is apparently a friend of a guy I went to high school with.  $sylderon seems to have disappeared.  (I only knew him through his photos.)

I started visiting dA a bit over five years ago when $dv8it was doing some consulting for them.  I still have a whiteboard with his plan for reorganizing dA's network here in my basement.  I've taken photos of it, but I don't know if I could bring myself to erase it.   there are still some things of his that I still haven't completely integrated into my life and should probably get rid of, but it just hurts.  all that's left are shadows now, background whispers of shared experiences.  his hacked xbox, which we watched rally videos on.  some DV tapes, one of which appears to be a video postcard from an australian girl who he never spoke of.  the powermac he co-located in my basement was one of the first machines to join him.  it just seemed to give up the will to run stably.  I'm just now getting his hacked satellite receivers to the recycler.  his dual-proc PIII motherboard succumbed to bad caps, and is awaiting recycling, but his VIA C3 continues to chug along as my backup server.  I still have all his hard drives, even though they aren't all online.  I'm typing this message on a machine built from a cast-off athlon system he gave me in 2004.  I used his soldering iron for some contract work tonight.

I never knew Ben as well as I wanted to, and I knew it was going to be a lifelong process to get to really know him.  five years ago that process was cut short.  it still hurts, and although the initial shock has worn off, there's still a deep weight of loss I carry around that I'm reminded of about this time every year.

one of my two cats that Ben was taking care of when he died joined him a couple weeks ago.  I'm more aware of the grieving process this iteration, and while I'm more aware of what's happening, I can't say it's any easier.  I used to joke with my local 1hr photo guy that the most common photos are of children and pets, yet here I find myself regretting that I didn't take more photos of my cat.

what awful birthday presents.

maybe the next five years I can re-context dA into something more positive.  I still have one cat left who I have taken a lot of photos of, and have a child on the way.  that's got to shift things to the + side...
  • Listening to: plastikman
  • Drinking: modelo especial
nicked from :iconldlawrence: without his permission, inspired by :iconsylderon: .  I hope neither one minds...

How did your train addiction begin? What made you interest in this kind of transport?

I was born in Chicago, and until the age of three, lived in St. Charles, just outside Chicago.  my old man was a big fan of the crab orchard & egyptian (COER), which ran steam on their shortline in Illinois until the mid 80s.  a couple great uncles on my father's side were railfans.  I think a bit of it rubbed off on me, and I vaguely recall dressing up as an engineer, complete with cardboard-box steam train for halloween when I was four or five.  I had a small 8'x4' HO layout with a red/yellow rock island F7 and later a southern pacific GP40.

trains lay dormant at the back of my mind until a few years ago, when Portland & Western (PNWR) tore up the siding (as seen in…) near work, and I started asking questions like "where does this go?" and "how does this network connect to the rest of the continent?"  the answers led me to start playing freight yard manager , reading books about regional players in the pacific northwest, and tracking a few mailing lists.

I found out a few of my old friends from college were also railfans, one of whom is on the crew of the SPS700, and it went from there.

Ok. So how does your interest in trains manifest itself?

I look forward to getting stopped at crossings, get antsy when I hear train horns and whistles, and have been known to spend time tracing out ROW with google earth.  I also wear a hickory-striped cap, even though the reason I started wearing it had nothing to do with trains.

What is your all-time favorite locomotive(s)/train(s) of your country's railways?

I like cowl units.  I think the baldwin sharknoses look really badass.  the krauss-maffei hydraulic cab units have a nice bezel to the body, which (perhaps not intentionally) is echoed in the GE P42s that amtrak presently uses.  I completely understand why they aren't suitable for freight, but I think they're very stylish.

Do you have an all-time favorite foreign engine?

the imported Chinese steam locomotives based on Soviet design are pretty amusing.

Do you ride a train often or at least regularly?

unfortunately not.  in order for me to ride a train to work, I would have to take the bus to light rail (MAX), take that to the 'burbs, then transfer to commuter rail (WES).  it would take an hour and a half.  I can drive to work in 20 minutes.

When was the last time you went somewhere by train? What kind of train was it?

I rode on a test run of the portland west-side express (WES) earlier this year.

This is where the harder part begins. Is your train addiction just at admiration level or you're also deeply interested in technical details and stuff?

the technical details are interesting, but realistically I'll never be a diesel mechanic, conductor, or even an embedded developer doing firmware for locomotive systems.  what interests me about trains is the infrastructure necessary to support them, the rail network itself, and the logistics involved in moving such massive quantities of matter around.  trains are the most efficient method of surface transportation, and I believe increased transport by rail is in this country's future.

I see a lot of parallels between rail networks and packet-switched networks.  heck, a lot of internet links literally run right next to rail lines.

What do you find the most interesting/knowledge-enriching fact you've learned about trains?

it's been very interesting to read various histories about how the american rail network came to be.  the current heavily regulated patchwork of private regional monopolies is much like the baby bells, or even the highway system before the interstate system was built.  I can't help but think our country would be kicking more economic ass if the rail system were nationalized.

Do you think you know enough about railways to consider yourself a "train expert" now?


Now that you look back at the times you didn't know as much as now do you feel you made a train-knowledge progress?

it's a constant process, and I feel like there's still a lot for me to learn.

Enough with the philosophy stuff. Do you have a train related dream that you want to come true although you don't find it probable?

I'd like to build a steam-powered brewery into a boxcar, workcar, or galley that could be pulled around by steam locomotives (or steam-equipped diesels), although it would probably be impossible to get licensed.

I'd also settle for a fixed location brewery that was large enough to receive ingredients by rail: hops via boxcar from hopmere in oregon, or yakima in washington; yeast from wyeast, who is only blocks away from mt hood railroad (MHRR) in odell; grain from great western maltings in vancouver WA, one of the maltsters in canada, or from europe via an east-coast port.

Have you ever thought about your hobby becoming your job? (being a train driver or so..) Did you do something for it? Confess..

my logistics hobby?  sure.  I just don't know how to get there from where I am now.

Oh... How do you feel about it now?

I feel like I'm a bit late to the party.

Now is there something about your country's railways that annoys the hell out of you?

the US rail network is a bunch of regional fiefdoms and a lot of bass-ackwards logistics handling.  UPS can move and track my 2lb box across the country in a matter of days, but some class Is can't even manage this for a complete boxcar or unit of rolling stock.  why can FedEx and UPS handle LTL, but railroad companies can't?  I should be able to hire an engine and crew to run my train coast-to-coast across a national network just like I can hire a trucking crew to do the same.  amtrak is an embarrassment.  wtf america?

Something more about what do you like? Are you more into older and classic trains or do you like the modern ones better?

the trains themselves are secondary... for me it's running the infrastructure and managing the logistics that are interesting.  I'm always looking to learn more about how railroads have managed these through history.

Steam engines are a particular category. How much attention do you pay to them?

seeing a fully steamed locomotive in person is awe-inspiring.  these are some of the largest land vehicles on earth, and I can't help get an itching to watch SPS700 or SP4449 when they're on excursion.  however, from an economic standpoint, steam is a complete loser, and while the idea of computer-controlled wood-burning steam engines in an apocalyptic post-industrial agrarian society tickles me, I'm not holding my breath.

Are there some trains/engines you changed your opinion about?

reading the technical descriptions of the GE U-series made me think they were technically advanced, but anecdotal evidence from engineers who actually worked on them makes me think perhaps the technologies weren't ready for prime time.  obviously GE was able to get things together, because they're now out-selling EMD.

It hurts me to ask this but are there some trains/engines you don't like??

I think UP's continued use of armour yellow is uninteresting, perhaps a bit gaudy, and reminds me of giant twinkies.  I miss the forest green BNSF paint scheme.

as far as industrial design goes, I think the classic EMD units are fairly unimaginative, but make up for it in utility -- iconically so.

Do you think there is some train stuff other trainiacs should definitely see/hear?

I think a lot of railfans get distracted by counting rivets and forget that locomotives are just one piece of an immense business process.  railroads wouldn't exist without a context.

How do you get along with train drivers. Do you use to talk to them if an opportunity shows up?

of course I would.  but I'd really love to do is talk to a dispatcher, manager, or yard master.

Oh yeah .. now that I mentioned it ... have you ever rode in a train cab?

nope.  maybe someday I'll learn to be a fireman.

Are there some special railway events in your country? Do you go on those?

when SPS700 or SP4449 runs on OPR, I try to be there.  I keep an eye out for "interesting" movements on PNWR and UP in my area, but I can't justify the time to camp out for hours for trainspotting.

What's your most treasured train experience?

riding the shay at sugar pine and big tree railroad near Yosemite in my early teens.

What train station have you seen the most interesting trains at?

brooklyn yard, portland, OR.

Is there some train-related website(s) you visit regularly or find some useful information at?

I do a lot of lookups on .  BNSF actually has rate sheets through their website.  the maps from have also been helpful, even if they are incomplete.

The meme is almost over. Any last comments you want to say before it ends?

have you ever seen a squonk's tears?  well, look at mine.
  • Watching: video of SP4449 to LA
  • Drinking: victory prima pils
I have at least six rolls of film to develop, some over a year old.  tomorrow we'll see if my XTOL is still good.  then we have to scan them.  it's no wonder I don't post anything here anymore.  it's not the effortless digital sneeze that so many are accustomed to these days.  "I shot > 1000 photos last month".  not here.

Kris is in Dallas for the annual Audiology Now! conference, so I'm left to my own devices which consist of staying up a little too late, drinking a little too much beer, and ruminating.

Ben passed away four years ago (plus a few days) and around this time of year I tend to get a little moody.  my departed mother's birthday was on the 12th, my birthday is on the 20th, and Ben's passing was on the 30th.

in a fit of nostalgia earlier this week, I was reminded of my great-uncle, and a glo-worm knock-off plush toy he gave my little brother for Christmas when I was still a kid.  it glowed when you gave it a squeeze, and I adopted it for myself, as my brother didn't really know what to make of it.  I think the weak glowing light somehow signified my great-uncle's love; it comforted me, as if the light was a tangible representation of love.  maybe love-as-radiation isn't too far off from the truth.

wherever you are, Ben, may my radiation reach you.
  • Listening to: early 20th century jazz
  • Watching: old films of chicago trolleys
  • Drinking: michelob lager
I'm still here, barely.

mccann is never on IRC anymore, so the only thing that reminds me of dA is Ben's passing and birthday, both which got me to drop in, but honestly the dA UI becomes a little stranger every time I'm forced to use it.  I tried to resubscribe tonight but was told to wait five minutes for system maintenance or somesuch.  I'm more than happy putting a stack of bills in mccann's pocket every year.

Kris is out of town to Australia for roughly the next week, so it's time for heavy introspection and possibly some photography, so long as I don't succumb to WoW, which is her fault too, for getting me a hot laptop for my birthday.  because heaven knows I could never buy any piece of novel technology new.  hell, I just put some 3-in-1 in my chipset fan to keep it going for the next few months while I scrounge for a replacement.

this system was from Ben, and I still feel a little obliged to keep it going, and thus begins the introspection.

my homebrewing club lost a good member last weekend.  Bob Farrell passed away due to cancer.  I don't recall what kind, but that's not terribly important.  I saw him last at Fred Eckhardt's birthday party, and really wanted to talk to him about bigger things, but it hardly seemed the place to.  what do you say to a dying man?  thank you for living?  thanks for the kick-ass mead?  tell me what really matters?

I like to think that Bob is in Valhalla with Ben, drinking mead and chatting up Valkyries.
  • Listening to: the grinding of drives
  • Drinking: a free bottle of bridgeport IPA
or... moron usability?

I'd like to be able to browse deviantwatch without using forward/back and without clicking so much.  getting a larger view from inside the deviations page would be a start; the technology for in-place zooming has already been written.  it should apply here as well.

setting delete marks and traveling forward/back loses state.  (this has always been a problem and seems to be common in a lot of javascript apps.)

my ideal use case:

1) go to

2) click on first picture

3) on same page as that first picture, give me options to zoom, favorite, etc, and (the important part) "remove from list and go to next picture in my devwatch" and "go to next picture (leave picture in devwatch)"

4) when at the last picture on the favorites list, the "next" button turns into "return to deviantwatch"

5) replace built-in editor with vim

OK, maybe not the last one, as it would scare off 99.999% of dA users, but the first four would go a long way into making dA a lot more usable.

did the groups ever take off?  (it would be nice to have shared galleries instead of setting up separate user accounts.  yes, I'm talking to you, toy-camera.
  • Listening to: ./playoldest (cougar story II)
  • Drinking: fantomÍ saison
no sir, I didn't like it.

increasingly heavy on the client-side javascript, with little/no increase in utility.  I could zoom in on a picture before, why the hell do I need the rollover expansion?  items still change location between screens.  I can't update my journals from viewing my own journal entry pages.  etc...

and perhaps my biggest peeve, BOUNDING BOXES ARE STILL IMPROPERLY SIZED.  yeah, sure, maybe it looks fine if you're using version x of browser y, but if the boxes had been sized in ems instead of pixels or %, I would have my friends box half chopped off to the point where I can't see when people last logged in. let the CSS do its thing, PLEASE.

but I'm just a cranky old coot.

  • Listening to: ./playoldest
I guess I owe myself beer for being my own 1000th visitor.  not tough considering I just finished bottling this year's "Olbaid ESB" in honor of dv8it.  it'll be ready to drink in a couple weeks.

feeling very knocked outside of myself now -- at least two levels of recursion deep.  my wife has gone to bed over half an hour ago and I finished cleaning the bottling equipment and carboy twenty minutes ago.

finished off a bomber of 2004 full sail bourbon barrel imperial porter which I believe came from Ben's collection but at this point I'm not entirely sure.

the integration continues and I'm still conflicted on how far to pursue this.  I predict an asymptotic decrease in the amount of Ben's things versus time.  the beer will be consumed and integrated.  the computers will be retasked and integrated.  it is the external areas where we did not overlap which will be the last to be dealt with.  things like mountain biking and satellite hacking and xbox...  linux.

I have to make a judgement regarding "stuff."  so much of it was disposed of quickly and with prejudice.  seemingly meaningless stuff like a hornet t-shirt which is now either in a landfill or being worn by a homeless child.  the meaning without a context is all that is left.

I have been going through his hard drives, attempting to separate the chaff and asking myself if I should preserve his squid cache thinking maybe I'll find some more clues.  clues to what?  to his death?  to his mind?  his IRC logs are like salt rubbed into a wound, indicating all the times I blew him off hanging out on weeknights to have a beer.  I can only console myself in thinking that we were starting to get together on a more frequent basis.

he died with my keys in his pocket.
  • Listening to: ./playoldest
free beer for the 1000th page viewer.

must be redeemed in person. (claimant must be of legal age...)
  • Listening to: frankie bones
ben was fired from dA staff just a couple days before I signed up for my account.  I was stoked at the time to be an end-user of the same system my friend was tuning and updating.  I didn't know at the time he had been let go, and knowing his personality, it doesn't surprise me.  dumbasses, I say, and if it were up to just mccann, I know he would've continued on until the end.  I've got a whiteboard full of plans for dA here in my basement.  plans that will never get a chance to be carried out.

the pain of loss never quite seems to go away and this week I've found myself thrown back to square one, perhaps a little more detached this time around, but still hurting.  ben was one of those guys who would dissapear for months at a time and then you'd run into him and he'd have fantastic stories to tell.  some of his co-workers at nokia are just finding out now.

it's not quite a loop, but more an iteration in the grief processing cycle.  I've long since given up trying to fight it, so I'm just along for the ride, trying to deal.  breaking down because I feel like it.  listening to his records because there's nobody else who can.  writing this journal into the void because I hope there are a few people out there who are paying attention and will find some solace in knowing that they are not the only ones going through this.

his house was taken down very quickly after his demise.  I understand why it was necessary.  things needed to be cleaned, and the physicality of existance needed to be dealt with.  I wanted to take panoramic slides of things as they were.  so that I could project his walls onto mine, and for fleeting instants forget that he was gone, but just stepped into the other room for another beer and I hear this one is supposed to be really good but we'll see...

_that_ is what photography is to me.  the capturing of an instant.  it may be a timeless instant from nature, which cannot be differentiated hundreds of years in the past or the future, or it may be a split second of the shutter which captures a movement which may not ever be repeated ever again.  the trick, I believe, is to capture elements of both.

I realize I cannot capture his essense.  if I could, he would not be gone.  but I can remind myself of it, somehow.  in in the wisps off the brewpot.  in choruses to songs.  in my own mind.
  • Listening to: lackluster (esa ruoho)
I'm searching for good condition instamatics.  the kind with 126 cartridges and flashbulb sockets.

let me rewind...

my employer has been in the same building since 1980 or so.  it's a small family owned deal with under 30 employees, and has been in business since the early 70s.  there's a lot of cruft hidden in nooks and crannies: old oscilloscopes; piles of electronic parts; obsolete tech-kipple.

in the cruft was a polaroid hood for a tektronix oscilloscope.  I thought it was a nifty thing, and wondered if film was still available.  a co-worker mentioned that he had a bunch of outdated polaroid pack film, and brought it in.  I played around with it, and recorded some scope traces.

I showed the scope hood to our graphics designer, and he pointed me to a polaroid model 100 gathering dust on a shelf at work.

the magic polaroid model 100.  in fantastic condition.  the battery was still good.  apparently our graphic designer's predecessor had used it on occation for mock-ups, but it was shelved when he got a polaroid back for the company's mamiya.  the mamiya was seldom used since the advent of digital cameras, making the polaroid even more obsolete.

I got new film for the model 100.  the images astounded me.  even though I had gotten my wife's XD11 tuned up and working well, the immediacy of the polaroid process grabbed me.  I was hooked.

what other weird polaroid stuff was out there?  quite a bit.  I got a swinger.  and a big shot.  and a 340.

I had to exercise the full capability of my peel-apart world, which meant hunting down flashbulbs.  I bought lots, which came with not only the M3s the original model 100 needed, but AG1s for the big swinger, and magicubes for the big shot.

I made the mistake of visiting a thrift store near work.  where seemingly cheap old cameras retire before final death in a landfill.  I found a colorpack, which uses hi-power flashcubes.  I also found a couple 110 cameras; after all I could still get 110 film at walgreens, and they used magicubes, which I had a case of for my big shot.

the 110 kindled memories of my childhood and my mother.  which reminded me of my first camera, a plastic-bodied 126 of some sort.  it was second or third hand when I got it, and I believe it was completely mechanical, or perhaps it wasn't and the battery was dead, which was why it only produced good pictures when in full sunlight...

I found some hipower flashcubes for my polaroid colorpack, which I got in a lot with a bunch of regular flashcubes.

I need to use up those flashcubes.  they were made with one thing to do in their existance: shine brilliantly!  I intend to make sure they can fulfull that destiny.  I just need a camera now that'll take regular flashcubes.

blue dots for sure shots.

it's pure raging sheer utter nostalgia mixed with completing unfinished potential, placing old hardware in a modern context, and working within limitations.  I <3 it.
  • Listening to:
I was going to get things done today.  but instead I sat in front of the TV almost all day watching reruns of stargate SG-1, pimp my ride, and a bad bruce campbell movie.

there's so much shit to do around here and I'm frustratingly stuck in a kind of aggressive dilution of unfinished potential.  picking just about anything that I want to get done, there's about a dozen things up the dependency tree.  or for the creative things I'd like to do there just are no juices flowing.

I need to do something with :dv8it's computers.  archive them.  copy them.  from what I remember they could still be put to good use doing something.  but I at least need to go through them and inventory things.  to do it right I need to have a nice big repostitory to put everything, which I have in the form of a big-ass disk-array I inherited from my alma mater.  the arary is now in its proper place in my rack, but I don' t have a front-end for it.  I have a nice 64bit LSI SCSI adapter to drive it, even, but no obvious machine to put it in.  maybe I should rearrange things and put the 1000a in the rack, and have the mylex deal with the array.  that might be the best, but would require shutting things down for a while while I shuffle things around.  maybe not such a bad idea.

I'd like to enter something at the upcoming pilgrimage demoparty, but even though I've been spending a couple days a week in the studio, nothing is coming.  or it's just an 8 bar trickle that once out I have no idea where to take.  I could program a textmode demo again, but honestly I do that all day long, and the last thing Iwant to do when I get home is more programming...

so I take pictures.  of the same damn things.  thinking maybe I'll find something unexpected.  and they just kind of sit around.  I've been pretty good about getting them filed away in binders, but I should get some slide sheets, as I've filled all my carousels, and now the black slide boxes are starting to pile up.

piles and piles of unfinished potential.  any of which could turn out something kick-ass if I could just pick something and follow to conclusion without getting distracted along the way.
  • Listening to: jeff mills on radio 1
  • Watching: the man with the screaming brain
please god let me turn them off in a future incantation of dA code...

the little dancing jiggling circles.  it was cute for five minutes.

I have no problems with the llama, actually.

and to tie this back into a journal entry.

my "olbaid's ESB" that I brewed back in April is tasting very very good right now.
  • Listening to:
what would I change?

dA is very self-contained.  it holds within it not only a large database of various electronic media, but also user webpages, chat server, email, and newsgroups.  personally it drives me a bit nuts.  I wish I could read and respond to private email with mutt, chat with my IRC client, read and follow public posts with trn, and generally integrate more tightly into dA than through a web browser...

but so it went and so it goes.  I suspect the high degree of integration has a lot to do with dA's sense of "community" since doing anything with dA must be done through the dA interfaces, which reinforces a sense of being somewhere.  you're constantly reminded "this is dA."

I see nothing wrong with having a web-based view and controller for the various dA functions, but there doesn't appear any way to strip them back to their raw cores or access them any other way but through the web interface.  everywhere on the site I find myself finding reinvented wheels and wondering why existing wheels weren't used.
  • Listening to:
I see two distinctly separate issues: jark being fired, and the XYZ groups system.  anybody mixing the two into some grand conspiracy is delusional.

first, Scott "jark".

it's my understanding that Scott was only a figurehead.  he may have been the impetus behind the initial formation of dA, but if others had not been brought in at key points, dA would have years ago fallen apart under a pile of unpaid bills, underperforming servers, and overextended bandwidth usage.

jark still holds shares in dA, and he still has a day job.  he never risked as much as other staff members.  dA ceased to be his baby when he and matteo brought on others to help with the technical duties and got it to pull its own weight from a monetary standpoint.  it grew up, whether he realised this at the time or not.  in retrospect he can claim that he was left out of decisions and not given information, but I suspect ignorance plays a bigger role.  he certainly didn't act like a president from a business standpoint.

dA is bigger than you, or me, or even jark.  it doesn't need a champion or a figurehead anymore.  it needs solutions for self-organization and scaling, neither of which a figurehead provides.  the v1 code is long gone and buried.  as a shareholder, jark still has a vested interest in dA's continued success.  it will enlightening to see if the threatened legal proceedings even happen, and if they do, what information will be presented.

XYZ groups:

spyed's mistake was describing what he is/was trying to do instead of simply implementing it and examining what happened.  by pre-selling the idea he leaves/left interpretation open to wild hyperbole and rumors.

dA needs better self-organization.  right now it's like drinking from a firehose or swimming in the middle of the pacific.  I have no fucking clue how to find more art I'm actually interested in, aside from traversing chains of favorites and doing keyword searches which may or may not turn up things I'm looking for.  (which keyword usage I may or may not agree with.)  writing about photographs is like dancing about poetry -- there may be some vague correlations which can be made, and eventually a vocabulary may be formed, but it's still a far cry from dealing with the actual work.

the paradox is attempting to place metrics on abstracts of artwork which are essentially unmeasurable.  the metrics are necessary in order to sort and present artworks in a non-random order.

some people want themselves to be labeled -- others do not.  I see nothing in the proposed XYZ groups system that forces anybody one way or another.  it's simply another metric to be utilized.

my main objection with dA is that the interface doesn't allow users to create their own sortings based on metrics.  personally I'd like to see old submissions with low views -- "forgotten" pieces, so to speak.  I'd also like a framework to create my own relative metrics between pieces, IE "I like piece A better than B" with some way of overlaying that with other people in the system to generate suggestions.  have all of this completely open-ended and up to the user to assemble at will.

but now everybody has jumped down spyed's neck we may never know if his metric was any good or not.
  • Listening to:
my co-worker has been coding longer than I've been alive, and has worked at the same company ever since graduating community college.  he bitches and moans a lot, is an incessant worrier, exhibits little backbone, and enjoys making himself out to be a martyr.  but he's a generally pleasant fellow, and cranks hard to produce something shippable.  and that makes it worth putting up with all the other stuff.

I studied math in college, not electrical engineering.  my computing background immediately before entering the professional work force wasn't 4040s and Z80s, but networked unix workstations.  I'm a systems guy.  the more code I go through, the harder the importance of good software design hits me.  not just how the end result works, but how it's put together, how the various functions work, how modular things are, etc.  especially when I have to go through it to add missing or new functionality.  I'm constantly asking myself "why is it so fscking difficult to add feature X?" or "how could these routines be redesigned to eliminate the class of bugs I'm currently investigating?"

structure.  architecture.  design.

I bring things like this up with my co-worker and he's enthusiastic until I start to describe implementation and construction, at which point he gets a sissy-eyed stare and I know I've lost him.  I often feel like smacking him just to get some sort of reaction, but obviously I can't.  he apparently has difficulty bridging the abstract to the concrete.  while I've forgotten almost all of my math from college, I still think very much in the abstract, and always strive for a minimal code solution to address a given issue.  I talk about algebraic systems for signal analysis, model-view-controller patterns, or even data structures at the level of linked-lists and he gets lost.

it pisses me off.
  • Listening to: yellow magic orchestra
diablo == dv8it for those who didn't know.  or maybe as a reminder for those who did.  he had been doing contract work for dA and is the reason I bothered to sign up for an account.  his whiteboard still has notes scribbled on it describing the changes he wanted to make, and equipment he was looking into to make dA run faster and better.  as fate would have it he was let go a few days after I signed up for this account over something which in retrospect seems completely trivial yet completely in character for Ben.

I'm still trying to cope.

his house is increasingly empty, with the last remaining bits making their way off to friends, and some to strangers who will never know the dead man who previously owned their new dresser or bed.  maybe it's better that way.

all his computer stuff is now in my basement, including his ibook.  I'm still sorting through it, seeing echoes of the man I knew.  the man I'll never get the chance to know any better through personal contact.  it's all here in digital form: his music, his email, his contacts, even the swill-off spreadsheet we made together in January when we went through roughly 20 macrobrews in search of the best.  (bass followed by taj mahal.)

a couple weeks ago his house still smelled like his house.  but now with the heat turned down and all the furniture gone even that is starting to dissapear.  his family and ``yoga friends'' descended like jackals on his place the monday following his demise, and things moved quickly from there.  (strangely enough, jackal is the name of the machine he co-located with me.)

everything has to be moved out by the 30th, and there's not much left now.  a lot of things were ``claimed'' and I'm left with the obscure bits nobody else really knows what to do with.  software collections, notebooks, computer bits, etc.  pieces of the man I once knew.

it pains me to be in his house and I can't be there for any length of time without losing it completely for at least a little bit.  it's as if I'm disassembling who he was as I go through and disassemble his belongings.  if a group of his friends hadn't been around while I performed

but it's all necessary.  probably one of the most necessary things I've ever done.  as much as I'd like to just sit in his house among his things and remember him until there's nothing else to remember and he suddenly shows up and tells me it was all just a bad dream and do you want to go over to the new old lompoc I hear they have a really nice porter...

all I can do is remember now.  and make sure that I don't forget.

I wish I had gotten the chance to take some pictures before his home was disassembled.  big wide-angle kodachrome slide film.  so when I miss him I could project a piece of his home in mine.  the images I do have in my mind of his home as it was while he lived in it I feel are already fading, or going through that lossy memory- optimization where the actual details become an ideal representation of how they actually were.  my mind is playing tricks on itself, attempting to encode visual memories in a more efficient form.  it's all I have left.
  • Listening to: cacaphony of grinding machines
my friend Ben 'Diablo' Shelton died last week.  I was in washington DC on business -- he was feeding my pets while I was gone.

it was all very sudden.  he was found face down in his house on friday the 1st, but evidence suggests that he collapsed on wednesday evening.

he was only 30.
  • Listening to: mix #38
printing some pictures from my trip to singapore and realizing that this takes a hell of a lot of time.  I end up having to bracket prints to get usable ones, or run test strips all the way through processing to view under normal lighting.  a negative scanner would be nice...

it's all very time consuming.  you can't rush it.  you can parallel-process some parts, but the prints aren't coming out faster than one every four minutes.  the chemistry just takes that long.

but man... the results.  even these little 4x5s come out quite nice even if my crappy scanner can't do them justice.

one of these days I'm sure I'll get sick of the whole thing and go back to drumming or music-synthesizing, and have this big giant stack of unprinted negatives... but for now I'll point my lens and suck up photons...
  • Listening to: mix #19
I went to the dentist yesterday; she showed me that I've been grinding my teeth, and creating permanent damage which if I don't stop will only increase my jaw discomfort, and can only be reversed by a set of "wall-to-wall crowns" to the tune of $80,000.

but I can't fucking help it.

I don't know where else to direct my energy.  to externalize it I'd need to punch things, and if I completely internalized it, I believe I'd give myself an ulcer.  (I like they way my guts currently function, thanks.)

maybe if I could take pictures of things that piss me off...  sounds like a project.
  • Listening to: mix #13