Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for April, 2003

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Posted by shannonclark on April 21, 2003

A post!
really, I do exist…

Okay, so, I guess it has been almost a week since I last posted. Wow, figured I would have posted something last week, but I guess not. So, this may be more of a ramble than usual, bear with me. I have been contributing quite a lot to the comments boards on friend’s journals as well as to the many mailing lists to which I belong, more on that if I feel up to the link generation…

This weekend I read three entire books parts of two others and about half a dozen maagazines which had been piling up in my briefcase. Of course I got almost an equal number of new magazines in the mail so I am still not yet ahead of the curve in that department, but it is progress nonetheless. I read the second and third Harry Potter books as well as Null A. Highly recommend Null A, lots of fun and way ahead ot its time in many respects.

The weekend was also full of many other things, it was a holiday weekend, so my options were at times limited.

I realized that as a non-believer I live in a very odd neighborhood for me, I am only a few blocks from a big huge massive evangelical Christian church (and a few more blocks from the related 4 year bible college (Moody if anyone cares). This is strange because I find myself noting “them” as they walk around the neighborhood (identifiable because they come in streams when a service lets out, and they usually are dressed nicely and carring black bound, gold gilted bibles in one hand).

My immediate reaction – that these are people I want nothing to do with at all. (appolgies to anyone who is reading this, just noting what my own reactions are).

In contrast, I do find that when I see someone on the street who is a religious Jew, I have generally a more favorable reaction, though I will admit to at times finding the Hassidim a bit much – but for me it is at least understandable, and I get a sense of kinship and fellowship with them, though we differ markedly in our beliefs (I suspect, though I have always gotten a general sense that even religious Jews are more open to my questioning of the very existance or needfullness of “God” to make sense of the world than Evangelical Christians would be).

I did have fun this weekend skewing an exercise by some of the bible thumpers from Moody, they were in the Starbucks that I frequent asking people if they would answer a short survey (seemingly as an exercise in getting into a conversation about religion with people). I suspect I may have been the only person they encountered who answered in the negative to almost all of their questions – i.e. “Do you believe in God?” “Do you believe in Heaven” etc. What’s more, I think that my humor when answering the questions surprised them – but at least, and I do respect this, they did not press me and just took down my answers and then left me alone.

In contrast, someone who had answered the survey in the more positive, was engaged into a rather complex theological debate about whether or not actions “count” (I think Moody is of the “all you need is to believe and you will be saved” school of thinking, not of the school that actions and intentions matter in the long run, though I suspect their position is more subtle than that). The basic point, I think, being that they were asking in essense “Do you think you will be going to heaven” – and if you answer something like “Yes because I am a good man and/or do good things …” they then would engage in a debate about that position.

I sidestepped it entirely by disagreeing with the premise, that there is a Heaven, or indeed, anything after death for the person who dies (but didn’t get into this rather complex subject).

So, while they did leave me alone, the debating and prostelizing did get to me and I ended up moving to another part of the cafe where it was a bit quieter.

Sunday I had a very good and very tasty Brunch. Not at the first place I wanted to go to (it was closed). Nor at the second (it did not have a buffet, just a menu and very long wait for a table). Nor even at the third, which took me almost 15 minutes and multiple innings of the Cubs game to find (it was closed for Easter, how can a place that specializes in Sunday Brunch close for Easter Sunday???). So I ended up at my fourth choice, but it was quite good, and I got a table immediately. What’s more, the hostess who was wandering around very near where I was sitting was incrediably cute and attractive – so all in all a good meal!

The buffet had lamb with mint jelly and ham, as well as dozens of other dishes, included coffee and fresh orange juice and was just $15! Very good, very fresh, very tasty, in a very cool space, with attractive people, a overly large table for one person. I ate too much, rest a bit and enjoyed the afternoon.

On the bad side of things Sunday afternoon I spoke with a good friend of mine who recently got her PhD. She’s applying for a couple of post-doc positions, but it looks like she will be leaving the US in the Spring. A combination of finances and visa issues, which is a bummer since it means yet another good friend leaving Chicago (and in this case moving halfway across the globe!).

Today was a quiet day in many ways, hopefully a bit of the calm before the storm – lots going on this week for me. Tomorrow I have a sales call out of state, which should (fingers crossed) lead to a rather nice piece of consulting work. Additionally I have a very large project which should be starting tomorrow or Wednesday and another which started last week (not as large that one however). And today I found out about a couple of other smaller projects which I will be working on this week, which is always a good thing. And that is by no means all, I have multiple people to follow up with about very large sales proposals, a number of contracts and deals to negotiate and sign (hiring a sales person, well specifically an outside sales organization!). I may also have meetings this week with a number of people who may be other potential clients or partners (or both). And, I’m trying to keep up here, I will also be working on some other opportunities all of which could be rather lucrative (helping people put some deals together, if they succeed I may get a piece of the deal). And I have an event on April 29th which I am organizing so it looks likely that it will be a very busy week indeed.

And the weekend will not be any quieter.

On Friday, my Aunt will be flying into town to visit, her daughter is in school here in Chicago so she will be visiting with my cousin as well as with myself and my parents. Today I helped her look for hotel deals online. We’ll get together for dinner on Friday. She and my cousin will likely spend Saturday doing “girl stuff” (shopping in other words) while I spend Saturday at Opcon, the science fiction convention I helped start over 13 years ago! Then on Sunday my aunt wants to take me shopping… which I guess is a good thing (her idea of shopping is a bit different scale than mine – I am very proud that I have recently gotten three new pairs of pants! Very big deal in my world. 3 pairs for about $70 total! They fit, look good and are comfortable. What’s more, unlike many of the pairs I have been wearing, they don’t have fraying edges or holes developing in places that should not have holes (not just in pockets either) did I mention it had been a while since I had bought any pants…)

I suspect my Aunt’s idea is more like buying me new shoes, new suit(s), many shirts, ties, jackets, belts etc. Shopping on a grand scale – certainly grander than I have been doing for the past 5 years or so. A bit intimidating really, though nice as well.

Did I mention my Aunt lives in LA?

On the plus side, she and I exchange gripes about how terrible the dating scene is (which is also a bit strange I must admit as well, though she is younger than my mom so it is not entirely strange, but still it is strange as well).

All in all however I like my Aunt so I am looking forward to the visit – though I will have to take steps that she does not enter my apartment (or, alternatively that I spend the next week and my every waking moment cleaning…)

And I know that I am missing many items – my current “To Do” list extends well past 70 items and it does not include the many new items which came up as a result of calls or emails today! This is both a good and a bad thing, getting close to having a hundred different things you have to do (in a short period of time) is well well past too many, and into the realm of obscene.

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92604122

Posted by shannonclark on April 14, 2003

Reading expanded upon

Okay, this weekend was a busy weekend for me in terms of catching up on some reading, though I am still running at a pace of more unread books being added to my shelves than completed books being sent to my read shelves. (I keep unread books on seperate shelves from ones I have read, am I alone in this practice?)

So, this weekend, I finished the first year of Henry Potter. Fun. Not very serious to be sure, but enjoyable nonetheless. I also read “The Millenium, or a comedy of the year 2000” by Upton Sinclair. Enjoyable but a light read, and one that I did not agree with the conclusions, but then again I am not and have not been a Socialist, so that makes sense. Personally I feel that enlightened Capitalism is not just good but possibly the best of systems. I look at where we are today and where we were and I don’t see that Socialist structures lead to long term success, to the contrary, the countries of Europe seem crippled by their Socialist aspects, whereas those that have adopted more Capitalist structures (support of new businesses, flexible structures, limited and targeted support, government focus on infrastructure not business susidies, etc) are those that have met with the most success of late (Ireland is one very good example).

I will be attending the writer’s respite at Wiscon this year, managed to get my submission in on time this year, unlike the past two years when I seemed to notice the writer’s respite only after the submission deadlines had long passed. Should be fun, though I am concerned that what I submitted is by no means a completed work (chapter one of my book, title still undecided) as it is chapter one it introduces a lot of stuff but does not resolve much (though it may also resolve to much, have not yet decided that). And it is the portion that I wrote the longest time ago which means that in many ways it is in a style and form that I may not write in currently, need to work on that.

So, pardon that interuption, back to my reading this weekend. I also finished a couple of issues of the New Yorker, finding that while I enjoyed many of the articles, I am not in agreement with the overall perspective of most of the coverage of the War, which should not be a big surprise to me, but it is somewhat.

I also read the first 100 pages of “Linked”, which is an excellent book that I highly recommend (Linked: The New Science of Networks
by Albert-László Barabási).

Over the weekend I also cought a couple of interviews on TV that suggest a few other books which I should look for and read. One, After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era
by Steven Brill. Two, Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order
by Steven Strogatz.

So, more reading for me in the future it looks like.

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92547117

Posted by shannonclark on April 13, 2003

Taxes, reading, thinking

Quick entry.

Taxes done – refunds! Yeah!

Read “The Milenium” by Upton Sinclair, interesting, more on that tomorrow.

Reading Harry Potter finally, I see why people read it.

Reading Linked – more on that later as well, everyone should read it, very very very good.

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92437493

Posted by shannonclark on April 11, 2003

Guild Complex : Poetry, Books, Workshops, Art, Discussion, Fiction

This is a great organization in Chicago which I had known about years ago and yet somehow forgotten about, looks like they have a lot of events, workshops, and readings which would be a lot of fun to attend. In the upcoming months I plan on doing so.

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92377741

Posted by shannonclark on April 10, 2003

FindArticles.com

Possibly the most useful new online search engine I have seen in a while, mostly because it is indexing (and seems to have the full content of) articles published in a lot of magazines and other sources, many of which are no longer available elsewhere online.

I do wonder how long they can keep this up without a clear revenue source, though I think it is some form of co-venture between a search engine company (LookSmart) and a content company (Thomson) so that may be the answer.

In any case, it will now be part of my shortlist of research tools.

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92184901

Posted by shannonclark on April 7, 2003

On the nature of Trust

This evening I cought up on some other blogs that I read, including BoingBoing which lead me to this article about a man saved by a post in blog. Very good tale, and a cautionary note about the nature of trust in today’s society.

Not just online it should be noted, this was a relationship that started offline by an introduction from long time friends – so i.e. an introduction from a trusted source which is what usually leads to someone one trusting another person, or at least being inclined to trust that person.

In second point, the article points to what leads to trust online – i.e. a letter with specific details, a willingness to be contacted in a multitude of ways (phone in this case), and a willingness to be contacted offline as well (meeting in person). Finally a willingness to offer up third-party endorcement for the claims being made.

Since I am someone who does a lot of networking online, and a lot of communications online, I am highly interested in what it takes to establish and maintain trust online. Very good story.

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92020381

Posted by shannonclark on April 4, 2003

Please give me feedback

or “who’se reading this stuff anyway…”?

Okay, I have a question for anyone reading this, could you give me some feedback on what I’m doing here?

Am I to random? (in when I post, in what I post?)

Do you even finish my frequent long rambles?

I ask because though I think I am getting some people looking here, at least it seems that way (perhaps 10 people a day, not sure really), I only very infrequently get any comment or feedback about what I have put here – but any and all is always very very welcome. (yes, that is a hint)

In the past month plus, I have a vaguest feeling that some number of my friends are not talking to me – but I’m not really sure. For one, it feels like a lot of people I have emailed in the past few months who previously have been very good about replying and corresponding have suddenly stopped replying to my emails.

In a few cases phone calls as well have gone unreturned.

In other cases, events that I think I would have previously been invited to have occurred without an invite to me – though again, I do not quite know why.

Here is a simple blunt statement to my friends (and I guess to strangers as well) – I have almost ZERO concept of how I appear/come across to others, really – I have a very poor sense of how I am percieved.

I do have a fairly good sense of how people whom I talk with view me – that I mostly “get”, and even when we may disagree on a particular point, I get the general sense that people are willing to engage me in conversation and discussion – i.e. that I am listening, and that we have conversations and discussions – not some form of argument etc (recently I have been attending political discussions on Thursday evenings each week – lots of fun – in part because there is a real diversity of opinions and viewpoints, which is somewhat unusual and I think very cool.

I also know that generally when I am talking to people about business or technical matters, I am generally respected and listened to, I frequently do in fact know a fair amount about a given subject, and people respect that. So in business and professional matters I am fairly comfortable. In other areas like philosophy and politics, I have generally thought about them a great deal, though probably not as much as many, and certainly my views are non-mainstream in most cases.

However, in personal matters my sense of how I come across is mostly non-existant.

Last night I had a conversation with a woman who works for a local non-profit. I had sat down with her and her boss a few months back and showed them some cool and useful technologies on the Internet, last night she called me with a question about her DSL and webhosting etc. So we had a nice conversation, but that’s not the point. The point is that she commented that I seemed the type to make someone a “tech widow” – i.e. someone who does nothing else but technology.

In some respects she is not far from the truth – I do think about and read about technology a lot, though I probably spend as much (or more) time reading and thinking about business and networks (of people not wires) as I do technology persay. However, I do have other interests – I like movies, I like science fiction (and fantasy), I write, I used to be a photographer (would like to be again but do not have the money for it at the moment), I like art, I enjoy politics, philosophy, games (mostly strategy, not of chance, luck or trivia). I love food (perhaps slightly too much at times).

But in looking over my list though many of the items I enjoy can involve other people, for me at least most of them do not. I spend a really remarkable amount of my time “alone” – at least in my head, and usually physically as well.

I know that there are entire slices of life and living that I am missing and have been for so long that in most cases I do not “miss” them because I have never had them. I envy those of my friends for whom such things come easily and naturally.

So, in short, as my friends (or at least a kindly stranger) what feedback can you give me? Have I (do I) do something that causes people to ignore me and/or to avoid me?

I think there is something about the style in which I sometimes (usually I suspect) write online that causes at least some to react negatively – for example, on an online personal site (nerve.com if you care) where I have posted an ad and do from time to time try to reply to ads, I have basically over the past year gotten next to zero responses to any of my ads, and almost no response to any of my replies to someone else’s ad.

Anyway, that is probably a matter for yet another day.

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91871098

Posted by shannonclark on April 2, 2003

Google

Google cache of Google – personally I like the “Google is not affliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content” – somewhat of a metaphysical concept…

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