THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 499 December 31, 2008 - January 6, 2008
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
December 31, 2007
Happy New Year
I have spent the day working. Hard. I have got a column and a mail bag, I have done a bunch of domestic stuff, and I am about to go to Larry Niven's party.
Happy New Year. I'll catch up here tomorrow.
|This week:||Tuesday, January
Happy New Year
This day was devoured by locusts. I had to get finances in order, pay bills, do recording, and keep books. Ugh.
January 2, 2008
Another day. It is said that LA will have 10 inches of rain shortly. My neighbor has an elm tree. It is, alas, not a Dutch Elm, so all the Japanese Beetles I have imported have failed to infect the darned thing. Every year it fills my rain gutters with leaves and little seed pods. It does this monthly. No matter how often I clean them, each year when there is a big rain coming I have two hours and more of work to do climbing ladders and running the hose through the gutters. Now one of the gutters leaks. I am hoping that it will dry enough to put Henry's into the leaky spots, and that the rain will hold off enough for that to dry a bit.
I do not like elm trees.
At least I got the things cleared out without falling off the roof and without having a heart attack.
The good news is that we are getting a camera and all the equipment needed to do video podcasts. Whether they will be any use is another matter, but we will give it a try.
I have in mind using this background:
but of course that will mean cleaning off my desk and the other flat surfaces, and making things look a little more pleasant. It will also mean setting up more lights. Martin Winston advises
which I will have to look for, and set up to give some decent lighting. I will probably want the camera set to show some of my desk, but the wall on the other side is close enough that it may not work. It may. I have a really good Vista Travel tripod to set the camera on. We can experiment with heights and angles.
What I'm striving for is something like the view one had of Amanda Congdon back when she did Rocketboom (and people actually watched Rocketboom). Not that I think I am as entertaining or attractive as she was, but the composition of the show worked pretty well. Of course I have a much busier background. The attractive part to me is that it shows my work space, and encourages me to keep it cleaned off; it's a hideous mess at the moment.
Of course I also have to have something to talk about, but I think I can manage that.
Incidentally, I find that Amanda does ABC News clips now, and she's at lively as ever. I found her at http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3897562&affil=wtnh but I haven't figured out the navigation of the web site yet, or even the frequency of broadcasts. I assume weekly. Ah. Poking around I find that her last weekly for ABC was last November. For some reason I missed all of them. I'd watch a weekly show if there were one, but I haven't found that.
She does a good show. I used to like Rocketboom, and I would watch her ABC show if it were still on. I suppose she'll find something else.
Anyway, we'll see what we can come up with that's interesting for my own videocast. I can pretty well guarantee I won't be as perky as Amanda.
I tried to order a copy of Hillyer's A Child's History of the World the other night: they're in theory available new for $28, and I want one for my granddaughter. Alas, the site I tried to order it from said it took Visa then told me that since my card started with the Visa card numbers it couldn't take that card. This didn't seem reasonable. I understand the school Hillyer taught at is also offering the book, and I'll try to get it through them, but their web site is confused: they don't seem to actually offer the book itself, but instead want to sell some kind of course. I don't want a course, I want the book. I suppose I should keep trying, but I do get discouraged. Moreover, I get suspicious when a web site is difficult to deal with.
Last night I went to the local Post Office to mail the completed bills I'd paid, and discovered that the stamp machine wouldn't take any of my credit cards. It kept saying it didn't like them, one at a time; no generic message to the effect that the system was out of order. I suppose that's typical of government services: your time is not worth anything. You're not really a customer.
John Carr, formerly Senior Editor for J. E. Pournelle and Associates Chaos Manor, has a letter about a new Piper Memorial fund, and Francis Hamit has a new essay on Print on Demand publishing. See mail.
And it's probably time I got to work on something other than gutters.
Only I didn't. I did manage to put Henry's roof goop in the cracks of the gutters. The rain won't come tonight so it should set up all right, and that may have fixed up those leaks. Of course it takes half an hour to get the Henry's off your hands after you do that, and then another ten minutes of lotion to counteract the turpentine, but what the heck. While I was at it, I fixed the outside mirror on my Eddie Bauer Explorer; someone had plucked it right out of its socket so to speak. Fortunately nothing was broken and it popped right back in.
None of this would have seemed remarkable twenty years ago, but I confess I no longer enjoy chasing down problems, climbing ladders, getting out the Henry's, figuring out how cars are assembled, and the rest of that. On the other hand, what with BYTE no longer providing an income, it's do it myself or not at all, at least until I get a couple of books out of the way. And you know what's coming next. Thanks to the subscribers who keep this place going. Now if each of you would recruit one more...
January 3, 2008
The rains are coming. Niven wants to come over to hike, but I wonder if we'll be able to do it.
I'm pretty well caught up on enrolling subscriptions. Thanks to all who have recently renewed.
The Iowa caucuses are today. Pfui! One of the sillier rituals. If I were Caesar, I would abolish all these primary elections, and go back to party conventions: precinct captains select district leaders, who go to a state convention to select national delegates, who go to a national convention to choose a candidate. Yes, I know, it's the smoke filled rooms. I'd rather trust candidate selection to proven party activists than to primary elections, which actually means to 30 second sound bites and large contributions for air time. We are entirely too dependent on the media and media advertisements.
I do not believe in democracy, and I never have. I believe in government by consent of the governed, and that does not mean winner take all democracy at all. In a proper republic the passions do not rule, but may prevent certain rules. Consent of the governed is always a compromise. Primary elections do not produce compromise in that sense. I would far rather see the old free style party conventions than these modern coronations of the winner of a silly series of votes that begins with about 5,000 people in Iowa deciding who is a viable candidate for President of these United States. Pfui!
Actually it was about 300,000 people in Iowa; my information was off, and I probably knew better if I thought about it.
The caucus system is probably preferable to the usual primary. It measures determination (people who will turn out on a cold night in Iowa) and offers some opportunities for actual discussion. It probably recruits people to do precinct party work, which is a very good thing in a Republic.
When I was a lad, the United States was in essence governed by the self-selected precinct captains; anyone could get into politics and become reasonably influential through hard work and enthusiasm. Money raising wasn't as important as being able to attract volunteers, and the volunteers then had an influence in selecting the candidates.
Michael Flynn has a letter in Mail on the caucus system. As always, his views are worth reading.
As to what happened in the caucuses, it sure didn't settle anything. Primaries are not pretty well determined by money. Huckabee will be able to raise more money now. Fred Thompson stayed around. He hasn't much fire in his belly for the office, but then I have always thought that anyone who wants to be president probably shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office.
Hillary will redouble her efforts, and I suspect it will get ugly.
More when I have time to think.
I sent out a reminder letter to subscribers who haven't renewed since 2006, and the response was great. I may need to automate the enrollment system; there's sure a lot of them to process.
January 5, 2007
The power went off last night about midnight and stayed off until 10:30 or so this morning. It's been steady since. Lost nothing. My Falcon UPS systems worked perfectly.
The response to my subscription reminder was literally overwhelming. It's taking a while to enroll the new subscriptions. Thanks! to everyone who recently subscribed or renewed. It sure takes the sting out of New York being late with my acceptance payment for Inferno II. (Not unexpected: Nothing gets done in the publishing world from about Thanksgiving to Mid-January.)
I'll have thoughts about the election next week. Meanwhile, Outlook is behaving badly. I can't tell if my problem is hardware or software. I get messages that "another process with access to outlook.pst unexpectedly closed" after which I have to shut down Outlook, restart the computer, and hope. This is fairly intolerable.
January 6, 2008
I have got the Mailbag done, and I'm slowly enrolling and updating the subscriptions. I have to say the response to the subscription reminder was astonishing, and somewhat overwhelming. Thanks!
I continue to have odd problems with Outlook but only on this one machine. I am trying to find out what processes may be running on this system that aren't on others where I don't seem to have the difficulty, but I'm not getting very far. I suspect it is something to do with the indexing system of Microsoft Desktop Search.
I have found a bunch of older mail that I'll put up in today's mail.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the weekly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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