Archive for December, 2006

Server Up

20:27 31 Dec 2006

Thanks to Seth‘s much-appreciated intervention, tadhg.com is now up again. Feeds, comments, graphics, etc. seem to be working fine. I’m still having some mail trouble, but I should be able to fix that over the next few days.

Although the Pacific Time timestamp will show this as early, it’s almost five hours into 2007 here, so: Happy New Year all!

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So Long 2006

13:52 31 Dec 2006. Updated: 20:01 31 Dec 2006

I don’t feel like doing a big recap of the year. That would be painful to write, and possibly painful (in a variety of ways) to read.

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‘The Palace of the Unencumbered’

09:11 30 Dec 2006. Updated: 19:59 31 Dec 2006

It doesn’t look like a palace. It is a network of interconnected villas. A sense of peace permeates throughout. The mountainside it is built on is sparsely forested, and gets only light snow in the winter.

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Deirdre’s Wedding

20:04 29 Dec 2006. Updated: 19:57 31 Dec 2006

I spent most of today at my friend Deirdre’s wedding to Jason. (No photos, but I suspect I’ll be able to grab some from any number of people for posting at a later date.)

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Creativity Steps Overview

17:40 28 Dec 2006. Updated: 19:56 31 Dec 2006

Last week I posted about some steps for getting into a creative frame of mind, and decided to try them out on my posts for the week. Overall I think that using the steps was rather effective.

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Embarrassment Comedy

17:13 27 Dec 2006. Updated: 23:19 16 Jan 2007

I’ve always had a tough time with it. I can see that it’s funny, but it’s also just painful. I can only take so much of it before having to stop.

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‘A Short Reprieve’

14:56 26 Dec 2006. Updated: 19:46 31 Dec 2006

His eyes snapped open. He was sitting down, slowly rotating. He was strapped into a chair at an amusement park, chintzy music echoing around him.

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Winter Holidays

14:40 25 Dec 2006

I tend to be underwhelmed by the winter holiday season. It’s not my favorite time of year, and plenty of its aspects irk me. (Not least: the cold and dark.) There are some wonderful things too, but I’m not feeling them as strongly as the rest, right now.

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Escape Velocity

15:31 24 Dec 2006. Updated: 23:20 16 Jan 2007

Recently NASA announced plans to build a permanent base on the moon, and Stephen Hawking said that reaching space is critical to human survival. Is it time to invest in getting off-planet, or is the whole thing a wasteful boondoggle?

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‘A Tree on the Path’

17:14 23 Dec 2006

You see the tree as dusk is taking the light from the sky. It is the only tree you have seen for days. No others are visible in any direction.

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The Ruler Con

11:07 22 Dec 2006

The death of the ruler of Turkmenistan prompts the question: how do people get away with this shit?

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17:28 21 Dec 2006

Typing is a skill that didn’t seem that important to me in the past, but seems critical in a bedrock way to me now. As someone who is impatient for computers to do what I want, and who uses keyboard shortcuts as much as possible, this makes sense. But for most of my time as a serious computer user, I couldn’t touch type.

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Change Your Mind

10:27 20 Dec 2006. Updated: 13:51 01 Apr 2015

I’ve had this item on my to-do list for a while: come up with list of instructions to self for getting into/out of certain emotional states. This mainly applies to creativity, motivation, and productivity (all of which are related).

The first one, creativity, I touched on in my post about inspiration. I think it should be possible to deliberately put myself into a mode where I’m going to either come up with ideas or do things with the ideas I already have. (This seems a more optimistic approach than simply waiting for inspiration to “strike”.)

And if that’s possible, it should be possible to push myself into other active mental states as well. By “active” I mean action-oriented—I have my doubts about moving into something like “happiness” with this kind of exercise. (An extended version of this kind of thing might qualify as “meditation”, however, and it appears likely that various forms of happiness can be aided significantly through meditation.) For the moment, I’m concerned with putting myself into a good state to do specific things.

The first one of these I actually came up with, and which gave me the idea for the others, was “consideration steps”. This could also be called “how to make a decision”. I found myself with a bunch of things to do like “Consider mootools (<http://mootools.net/download/release>)” and “consider [some] directory structure”, and found that I was shying away from those, so I came up with these steps:

  • Take 5 deep breaths (I think this should probably be added to more or less every checklist…).
  • Read over whatever it is.
  • Write 5 or more thoughts that come to mind after reading it.
  • Decide whether there are future actions that could be taken.
  • List those actions, and list how much time (approximately) that each might take.
  • If the action is “further consideration”, move onto separate list for this.
  • If actions are indeterminate, that is, I’m not sure whether I really want to do them, move to “possible future action” list.
  • Make notes on this process, and make sure that the action items (that is, the actions I’ve decided I want to take) are clear.

Nothing radical there, just a checklist for considering something and coming up with some kind of decision. The important thing appears to be deciding to make the decision, actually… and these steps help with that in the standard “delineated small things are easier to achieve than undifferentiated big things” way. At the least, I think these will get me in the right state of mind for decision-making. They’ve worked so far—except that I don’t always apply them. Decisions tend to go better when I do.

One I’ve only tried a couple of times, and which I’m superstitiously leery of using more often (something I want to get over by using it more often), and which I haven’t codified until now, is for getting inspiration, or getting into a creative mindset. What I note below is something I’ve never used (except in unconnected bits), and which I intend to try out.

  • Take 5 deep breaths.
  • Prepare working space for whatever creativity is going to take place. This could be notebooks, a computer, a whiteboard, paint and a canvas, whatever. But there has to be a record of some sort.
  • Write down the theme or setting or desired output or whatever it is that you know about what you want to get inspiration about.
  • Take 5 deep breaths again.
  • Recite:
    Cast a cold eye
    On life, on death.
    Horseman, pass by!

    (Obviously, substitute whatever works for you here. The Yeats is just something that seems to do it for me.)

  • Close eyes and focus on the theme/setting/desire output/whatever. Write (or paint, or output however you like) whatever comes to you at this point. Repeat this step, and keep repeating it, until you have something you think you can work on. If that doesn’t happen and you get stuck, repeat the last two steps and this one. If you get more stuck than that, go away and do something else for a while, then come back and repeat the whole thing.

Obviously, I can’t really *recommend* this, as I haven’t tried it as a whole! But I’ll use it for all my blog posts (and possibly my work on my novel) in the next week, and then report back on how it goes. (Update: I used it, it went very well, I now recommend it.)

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Dark, Wet, Cold

16:37 19 Dec 2006

Lots of people, especially those from Southern California, deride San Francisco’s weather. These people should spend time in Ireland, as that would give them an appreciation of just how good SF weather is.

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Blog Spam

17:43 18 Dec 2006. Updated: 06:13 19 Dec 2006

I’ve been getting more and more of it. Eventually I might have to resort to a captcha system, or to WP Hashcash. For the moment, though, all new commenters have to be verified by me before their posts show.

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Reading The Etched City

13:48 17 Dec 2006. Updated: 14:00 10 Jan 2007

I picked up K. J. Bishop’s debut novel in Stacey’s the other day, based on an employee recommendation, and started reading it on the flight. So far I’ve been very impressed, and the writing has made me sit up and take notice.

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Leading Causes of Death

04:42 16 Dec 2006

My friend Brian, after reading Fear and Personal Radiation Detectors, read up on leading causes of death in the US and concluded that wasn’t really worth it to worry about radiation poisoning.

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‘Atheist Fundamentalism’

23:53 15 Dec 2006. Updated: 02:24 16 Dec 2006

I read a hostile review of The Root of All Evil, Richard Dawkins’ documentary, on the liberal website Alternet.org today.

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Fear and Personal Radiation Detectors

23:58 14 Dec 2006

Niall sent me a large number of messages today about accidents resulting in radiation poisoning. Reading about completely unsafe practices and the escape of radioactive materials into the commercial scrap metal business made me feel rather unsafe.

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Logistical/Organizational Difficulties

23:50 13 Dec 2006. Updated: 01:12 14 Dec 2006

Anything involving group organization tends to be tricky. Any kind of logistical enterprise needs improvement and will breed some kind of discontent with at least some people. Sometimes this discontent brings better ideas, sometimes not. It continually surprises me, though, just how tough it can be to get right even small-group logistics. The example I have in mind is how to organize the pods for sfmagic.org drafting each week. How complicated can it be to get some drafts together on a Wednesday night?

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Using new Function() in JavaScript

23:54 12 Dec 2006

I had reason to use the JavaScript Function object, or rather its Function constructor, for the first time today. Using it helped me avoid using either global variables or eval() calls.

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Practice and Improvement

22:59 11 Dec 2006. Updated: 00:05 16 Dec 2006

A perennial area of interest for me is how one improves skills. The obvious answer is “practice”, but for a lot of things that’s not specific enough, and figuring out exactly what and how to practice can be quite difficult.

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Montara Beach Photos

20:50 10 Dec 2006

Over the last few months I’ve done some midnight drives to Montara Beach, and today decided I’d find out what it looked like during the day. I arrived around sunset and took some photos.

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