diary of a mad

19 july 2000



These are links to some of the most rewarding sites I have found on the Web. There aren't many; my standards are high. See why this is not a blog at the bottom of the page.

Terry Kanago, mother, writer, dancer, musician.
From Diary of A Mad Housewife, July 19, 2000:

By default rather than design, I've lost the habit of having my own clothes. Since I don't work outside the home, I have no need for fancy duds. I live in their t-shirts and discarded jeans. If I need something, I just grab whatever the girls aren't currently wearing. At any given time I'm a walking billboard for Central Valley High School Marching Band, Odyssey of the Mind, Evergreen Jr. High volleyball team, Big Rock Fiddlers, etc. Except now, they're taking all those things with them.

Next week is only a foretaste. When Julie leaves home next fall, I'm going to be faced with the choice between shopping and going naked. As tempting as nudity sounds by comparision, the rest of the world disagrees, so I'll have to bite the bullet. My only consolation is that neither of them have grown into my bra.


Janet Egan, software engineer, plover warden, Red Sox fan.
From Journal of a Sabbatical, July 13, 2000:

A final greenhead got me just as I was writing my report so I got quite a bit of blood on the report form. Turning in a bloody report at the height of greenhead season, though not uncommon, struck me as hysterically funny this afternoon. It is the blood you have shed for your piping plovers that makes them so important (with apologies to the Little Prince and his rose).

Gunter, writer, photographer, New Yorker.
From Little India:

The first two restaurants were opened by feuding brothers (so the legend goes,) uncles and more distant relatives followed and opened their own restaurants, filling the block with popular and inexpensive places to eat, perfect for the hippies living in the area at the time. Over the years the word got out, so now tourists by the busload head for this New York City neighborhood.

Some places cost a bit more than others and there are slight variations in the menus and flavors, but not enough to dispel the rumor that there is one central kitchen, serving all restaurants.

Steven Den Beste, software engineer, ethical cynic, writer.
From Open Source: Free Speech or Free Beer?:

It is precisely the fact that everyone can use what anyone contributes to the pool which makes the open source movement work.

In other words, it is precisely free beer freedom that makes it useful. All the platitudes to the contrary, the spirit of the open source movement is free beer, not free speech.

Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini, designer, inventor, writer.
From When Interfaces Kill: What Really Happened to John Denver:

John Denver's aircraft had a fuel selection valve with only three positions: Off, Left, and Right. Burt Rutan's design called for that valve to be placed on the front panel of the aircraft, making it easy to switch among the options. The builder of the aircraft, however, elected to place the valve back behind the pilot's left shoulder. He did so with the best of intentions...

He did so, however, at a terrible cost to the human interface, because the only way to switch tanks was to let go of the controls, twist your head to the left to look behind you, reach over your left shoulder with your right hand, find the valve, and turn it. As the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) discovered, it was difficult to do this without bracing yourself with your right foot by pressing the right rudder pedal all the way to the floor. And that's what killed John Denver. His plane was seen veering to the right and plunging into the ocean from only a few hundred feet up, consistent with the NTSB's reconstruction.

Mike Richter, aerospace systems engineer, the Web's opera, CD-R and CD-RW maven.
From Let's be Reasonable!:

There comes a stage in the growth of every child when he or she is given a spoon and taught how to use it instead of being fed by the parent. One reason is simply that the child will need to be fed again.

Philip Greenspun, computer scientist, writer, photographer, philanthropist, narcissist.
From The book behind the book behind the book...:

Five percent of retail is fair if you abandon one erroneous assumption: that the publishing industry exists to compensate authors. Magazine publishers exist to sell advertising. The writing and photography are filler. Book publishers exist to pay the salaries of people who work in book publishing. The people who work in book publishing are well aware of this. That's why hardly anybody ever quits a job in book publishing to become an author. Consider the two situations. Author: sits alone at home editing manuscripts and praying that proposals will be accepted. Employee of large publisher: hangs out in comfortable office surrounded by fun people, makes twice the salary, assumes no risk (i.e., gets paid whether or not particular book proposals are accepted).

Louise Arthur, wife, mother, photographer, terminal cancer patient (deceased).
From Shadow In Tiger Country: a diary of terminal cancer, 2nd August 1999:

Tim and I want to buy a flat in Brighton. It may sound like a crazy time to be doing it, but bear with me.
  1. We love decorating places, and to have a little studio flat to play with would be excellent fun.
  2. To give us a holiday home half an hour's drive away - somewhere to escape and sit on the beach.
  3. To give Tim options after I'm dead. This is the main reason, really. He may not want to stay in Tunbridge Wells surrounded by people we knew as a couple. He may get pissed off with everyone keeping an eye on him to see how he's doing. He may want a new start with Caitlin. This way he can get to know a few people there now, as well as schools and things. Or he could let it to students and use it as an investment.

Visit Port Watson! (also here), by Anonymous, libertarian.
From 5. Money (A Note for the Traveler):

"No prey, no pay!" and "To each according to the bounty; from each according to whim!" - these might be Port Watson's mottos. Even the Republic of Sonsorol has no currency of its own (although it does sell lovely postage stamps). For small transactions such as paying for a meal or newspaper any foreign currency will do in theory, although in practice New Zealand pounds or U.S. dollars are preferred. Larger transactions are generally carried out by computer, since all Shareholders have an "account" to draw on. Visitors may find it convenient to deposit some of their funds in the Bank, either in a "holding" or a "moving" account. The former is simply an electronic lock-box. A "moving" account constitutes an actual investment in the Bank. In February 1985, such accounts paid 7.5% interest, and in March 12%; frugal travelers may actually leave Sonsorol richer than they arrived!

Sarah B. E. Wishnevsky, office staff for a roofing company, writer, role player.
From Darth Vader Is Your Father:

Our dying do so in hotels and hospices, safely isolating the rest of us from the ugliness and grief and pain of it all. Our media shows us beautiful young or distinguished old people: The scrawniest, most strung-out street-corner whore on television is played by a beauty queen, her client by the most handsome guy in his high-school graduating class.

And why? Because darkness is scary. Death is scary. Getting old is scary, and so is being alone. Being wrong may be the scariest thing of all. And so we set our darkness aside, lock it away, claim that it is not human or emanates from the outside. It's Saddam Hussein, or the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union, or a serial killer who we characterize as a monster, inhuman.

Laurie Spiegel, computer scientist/artist/musician, composer, writer.
From Thoughts on Microsoft's Algorithmic Composition Patent:
What would be the characteristics of music in particular, and of the arts in general, in a society that allowed corporations to proscribe the use of specific creative artistic techniques as criminal?

How might these differ, aesthetically, qualitatively, from the results of nature's prohibition of specific creative techniques at various points in human evolution because such techniques were simply not feasible within the constraints of our then-current stage of technological development?

Dennis Havlena, musical instrument builder, musician, amateur radio operator.
From How to build a hurdy gurdy for under $20:
     I possess no special skills, never had any 
     woodworking lessons & have a zillion other
     hobbies. Had I enough time, I might GET skilled at
     this stuff, but in the meantime, I approach it all
     as just a load of fun. Anyone can make such simple 
     instruments -- this is borne out by the countless
     e-mails I receive describing the builder's 
     successful instruments.

why this is not a blog:
The term "blog" is a contraction of "Web log," and was applied by Jorn Barger to what he does. Essentially, that's logging, to a Web site on a daily basis, links to all the interesting pages the blogger visits. Thanks to the development of specialized software which makes blogging easy, the practice is growing rapidly-- the word "fad" springs to mind.

I have yet to fall under the spell of blogging. The blogs I have read have led me to very few sites I'd care to revisit.

This page is not a blog, in any sense. I put it together in a text editor and upload it by FTP. It is not maintained daily-- in fact, it's a rare treat to be able to add a site to the list. And I find these sites to be truly exceptional, compelling me to return visits. For the most part, they are personal Web sites, characterized by substance, depth, passion, the absence of ad banners, and the use of the font face and size you set in your browser.

All site contents copyright © 1999, 2000 John Pollock
(except the quotes, which belong to their authors)