Searching for the Moon

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

Archive for June, 2003

Over the weekend

Posted by shannonclark on June 30, 2003

or how I walked 10 miles and cleaned up

Literally. Saturday and Sunday I walked what must be close to 10 miles, walked a mile or so in Wicker Park on Saturday, then from North Ave to Navy Pier (about 2 miles) then to the end of Navy Pier and Back (another 2 miles) then from Navy pier to Michigan Ave (about a mile) then from 600 N. Michigan to my house (about 2 miles).

Sunday I walked about another 3 or 4 miles.

So a good weekend for walking, and the company I kept was good as well. I spent Friday night and Saturday afternoon playing host to a friend of my aunt and her friend, they were traveling here to Chicago to spend the weekend here before going on to Detroit from which they were driving back to New Mexico.

Can’t complain about spending two days with two attractive young woman showing them the town. (though it was a lot of fun, it was also not as exciting as that makes it sound)

Saturday night I saw The Hulk. Highly recommended, very good, very slow, very character driven (but yes, there are good visual special effects and action sequences too). I read in the New Yorker on Sunday that Ang Lee the director of the Hulk also played the Hulk for the motion capture people who put together the special effects, kinda cool.

Sunday I read a lot, had a nice meal, ran some errands, but most importantly I got a phone call from a woman – no more details for now, don’t want to jinx it, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed, it is at least something new in my life and something very unusual.

On Saturday evening I also met a bunch of gamers, may get invited to join in their ongoing game, if I do, it will be the first time I’ve done any serious gaming in a number of years, in many ways I am looking forward to it – both as a chance to get back to something that was so important and so much fun for me growing up, and as a chance to interact with an entirely new group of people, fellow nerds of a sort, but also of a different network than my current business associates, generally not a bad thing at all.

However, the second most important thing about the weekend is that in preparation for possibly having guests (and female ones at that), I cleaned my condo.

Seriously.

Friday night was about 6 hours of serious cleaning before I left to pick them up at Midway Airport.

Saturday morning was another couple of hours of serious cleaning while I waited for them to get up and start moving towards the city (their hotel was out in the suburbs, don’t ask, long story).

So, this weekend I managed to vacumn my bedroom, dust my living room, scrub most of my bathroom, put away my clothes, do many loads of laundry and dishes, box sort or throw out the piles of misc. papers and magazines which had cluttered up my dining room table and living room, organized much of my hall closet (you wouldn’t believe me if you see it, but it is much improved) and generally render my apartment almost fit to invite a friend up to, still many small things I’m working on, still some piles that need sorting, some boxes of junk to throw out, some misc. items to get recycled (old broken monitor being the biggest) and really I should just replace the futon which is long past dead, but the change in the whole place is quite amazing.

Next I’m going to go through my kitchen and start reorganizing things, get rid of some kitchen wares I do not use (or at a minimum store them far out of the way) and hopefully make good use of my tupperware and other gadgets to organize the kitchen in a more logical and useful manner. In another week or so I’ll be comfortable inviting someone over (and hopefully this will be an option in the very near future).

What feels weird and good is that a woman called me, this does not generally happen and it is very much what I’ve tended to tell people would be a good thing for me, i.e. someone who takes a bit of the initiative and helps me clearly know what’s up. If it is left just to my interpretation of the signs and cryptic remarks, I’m unlikely to interpret them correctly (or in time, or both). So this is a good sign at the beginning.

I’ll see what happens next, but it is also the first time I’ve been a bit nervous and butterflyey (how do you spell that?) in a very long time, so this is also probably a good thing.

My scale at home is broken (yeah, no transition there, I’ll work on that) so I don’t quite know how much weight I’ve lost lately, but I think that I have been continueing to lose weight, I may be down to as low as 210 lbs, which if I am means that I have lost over 30 lbs since December (or so, scales likely were never all that accurate). More tellingly, this weekend my size 36 jeans came very close to fitting, where only a few months ago they couldn’t even get to the point of even considering whether they would fit or not (i.e. they clearly had not chance, where now they come extremely close). A few more weeks of not eating too much, walking at least a mile usually more every day, and watching the random calories should do well for me.

My goal, such as it is, is to be solidly back to being a 38, and even better back to a 36 by the Fall. That probably means losing about at least another 10 lbs. After that, I may go for losing still another 10 lbs and/or getting some muscle definition but that’s a ways off, for now I’m just happy to see that some pants need to go to that first, smallest hole in the belt (and even that is not always enough). If I lose another 10 lbs I’ll probably see it in the waist, if I lost about 15 lbs or so, I may see it in my neck as well as my waist, would be great to be able to fit back into my 16 1/2 neck shirts (which include a lot of really cool shirts I have not worn in years).

When that day comes I plan on celebrating with buying some new cloths – new jeans, new pants, a new suit, some new dress shirts, a new pair of swim trunks etc.

So progress being made at least. Which is good because for at least the last month or so it had felt like I was either gaining weight or at best not continueing to lose it, but this weekend seems to be pointing towards making further progress.

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95997869

Posted by shannonclark on June 24, 2003

QuickThread – Upgrade your email thread – QuickTopic bulletin board

This may be a solution to a problem that many groups I know have, I will have to look at this very carefully the next time I encounter this problem. Basically QuickThreads is a service that will turn an existing email thread into a web based discussion – while continueing to be held in an email based manner, there will also be a web archive, threaded, with each person subscribed.

I think this will work very well for threads which start off being sent to individuals.

For threads which include group email addresses, I suspect it may not work quite as well, but may still be highly functional.

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95964308

Posted by shannonclark on June 23, 2003

On a cultural phenomenon
or, how I read year five

Well, so it was Friday night, June 20th, and at around 11:30 at night I was walking home after having eaten a great omelette at a 24hr diner between my office and my home. The weather was nice and I was enjoying the walk home, when I walked past Barnes and Noble and noticed that they would be open until 12:30am.

Ah, I remembered, Harry Potter.

So, taking this as somewhat of a sign that I really did want to get a copy of the book, and in keeping with it having just recently been my birthday, I decided to wait in line and buy a copy for myself. Slightly foolishly, rather than getting in line with the first people to ask “where is the line?”, I just milled about enjoying shopping for books at almost midnight.

I still managed to join the line before it had started to make a second bend – just one after the line from the cashier met the main aisle of the store.

Behind me, some of the truly fanatical were standing, a man and a woman who met in line but seemed very well matched (and equally deeply involved with the books). Milling about were many small children with parents in tow, though I must say, most of the buyers of the book did not seem to be buying it for children but for themselves to read.

So, for just under $20 I bought my copy early Saturday morning.

I finished it this morning, reading the last 70 pages before showering and shaving.

My summary – good, but not flawless. Definitely more interesting than many children’s novels, and clearly interested in getting a bit deeper into the characters and building up a more subtle and rich picture of the world.

That said, there were, however, some somewhat serious quibbles – though generally just minor ones.

And I think I caught at least one, possibly two typos – but numerical in nature – where initially one item was introduced, but later two were referred to (chinz chairs in one scene and owls in another).

I enjoyed the book, and the series for that matter, but also doubt that I will reread the books until I am sharing them with some future child (my own or someone else’s). In large part because, perhaps more than they borrow from fantasy novels, the books really borrow from mysteries. That is, the Potter books are not unlike a traditional detective story. Generally a fixed cast (though characters do get introduced at a later date in the Potter books than in most traditional mysteries), and some puzzle to solve by the end of the novel (or puzzles). For me, at least, after I have read a mystery once and know how it ends it rarely rewards rereading (basically only the Sherlock Holmes stories have I ever reread many times).

In part this is also because I have a very strange memory when it comes to books – it is a physical memory, I remember in part by feel of the book where different sections are, but as I am rereading a section all I need is one small trigger to remember most of the book – not verbatum but rather close to it.

I would recommend the Potter series to friends, they are certainly fun and a bit more challenging than the massive popularity would lead you to conclude. But at the same time, I also find the plotting in the most recent one a bit weak, and somewhat not as satisfying as some of the earlier books in the series – while at the same time I do find myself enjoying the length and the details – they are truly fun.

And, as a writer myself, and a friend of many writers, it is truly enjoyable to realize that this past weekend a BOOK out sold the movies (possibly even approaching the total take in the US for all movies in theaters last weekend!).

As far as I can tell, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix sold close to 5 million copies in the US alone, at a cover price of $29.99 (though I suspect the average sale price is more like $20) that is just in the US over $100M for the weekend. And I would guess that another couple of million copies were sold overseas as well – probably bringing the weekend total to over $150M.

Extremely impressive, made lots of people money, and as a book lover I am not unhappy at all that a book can demand such affection, devotion, and spending. I just hope that the generation that is reading the Harry Potter books as children also seek out and read other books, and that perhaps they we reverse the current trends in the US.

Apparently, I read last week, less than 50% of Americans bought 1 or more books last year!

Since I probably average at least one book a week, more likely 3-4 books (especially given weekends like Memorial Day when I bought or was given close to 50 books), I find the concept of only buying one book a year almost incomprehensible.

But then again, books and where they go and are stored is for me priority number one in my housing questions, which if American television is to be believed is not at all the case for most people whether on or off a sitcom. It is a rare “cribs” or other celebrity home type show (or reality tv show) which shows a home with lots of books. Rather, seemingly the typical home has rooms dominated by TVs but only occasionally a couple of books.

To put this in perspective, I have at least 600, probably more like 750+ books in my condo, and another 250+ books still at my parent’s. And this is after selling off and getting rid of plenty of books.

When I look at my yearly budget, there is always a clear understanding with myself that I will be spending money on books, it is just a given. In some years, mostly on used books, but always at least some books. At the moment I have about 100 books waiting to be read, and Harry Potter jumped the queue, but with it complete, I will go back to the other books I am currently reading (Native Tongue, Deconstructing Economics, and a collection of short stories by M. John Harrison). When I am done with those, I think I will probably read some books by China Meiville, after that I’m not sure.

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95879539

Posted by shannonclark on June 20, 2003

Relaunch of JigZaw’s website
or now comes the really hard stuff…

As many of you know who have communicated with me over the past couple of weeks, I have been relaunching JigZaw’s website. Tonight I am pleased to announce (see letter I sent out below) that the new site is up and should be available shortly. Now comes the hard part of adding to the new site, extending the content, and selling our software and services…

Text of an email I sent out this evening

Hi all,

I am very pleased to announce that JigZaw’s updated website is going live this evening (Friday, June 20th). You can look at the site at http://demo.jigzaw.com or by early tomorrow at http://www.jigzaw.com.

The new site reflects JigZaw’s newest product, Decisa: Contract Management. Please look over the information under the Decisa tab, and check out the Demo repository available under the Demo tab.

Over the upcoming days and weeks we will be adding further content to the new website, including additional Case studies and more information on Decisa.

Over the past months and years all of you have been friends and supporters. I am very thankful for your past conversations, suggestions, friendship and assistance. I welcome your feedback about the new website and about Decisa: Contract Management.

Many of you are working with JigZaw or myself on one or more projects, if you would like to be added to the Partners page, please email me a paragraph or two to place there, along with which URL and Logo to link to.

One of the first additions to the new site will be a password protected partner’s area, there we will have collateral materials, PowerPoint presentations, pricing documents etc. I will be contacting those of you who are JigZaw’s partners with access information when that portion of the site is ready.

Again, thanks and I hope everyone has a successful and enjoyable summer! Good luck to all of you in your various ventures!

sincerely,

Shannon

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95879465

Posted by shannonclark on June 20, 2003

BLOGGER :: User Study

If you are in the Bay area and have used Blogger for the past 6+ months – here’s a chance to make a quick $75 for a few hours… if I were in the Bay area I’d go just for the chance to bum around Google’s headquarters and meet people.

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95808575

Posted by shannonclark on June 18, 2003

Sentance I am startled that I said early this morning
or happy birthday to me

So, last night, I left the 24 hour Starbucks near my house (well technically very early this morning). As I left, some friends of mine were seated outside in the sidewalk cafe playing chess. Side note, how cool is it to have a place where people can sit outside at 1:00am on a summer evening playing chess just a 1/2 block from my house. Anyway, as I walked past and stopped to watch the game, a friend asked me if I still played.

I replied “yes, I’ve been playing for the past 25 years.”

Yup, something that I have done for a quarter of a century. Not something I expected of myself I must say, but it is true, when I was about 4 my grandfather taught me to play Chess.

Today, I’m now 29. And it was early this morning that I felt for the first time a bit old.

On an even more sobering note, I also realized that I was 24 when I last was in an even semi-serious relationship – 4 1/2 years actually, Dec of 1998 when I last kissed someone.

Every year on my birthday I take stock, this year, most certainly, my goal is not to be 30 and still in the same state. A relationship that does not work is fine (though disappointing), more hopefully, a relationship that works and lasts.

I also want be in a more comfortable place with respect to my company, i.e. to have lots of sales, revenues, (perhaps more employees) and lots of other work coming in. But compared to my personal goals that is, to a degree at least, my second priority.

My sister called this evening, she knows me, she called the office to reach me. Her present, some new music, will arrive in a few days – I’m looking forward to it.

My grandfather and my parents sent me birthday cards, both very nice, small little personal birthday notes over the past few days. My aunt called me over the weekend to wish me happy birthday in advance (and her card should get here soon as well). It is good to have family who remember your birthdays!

And early this morning, a new friend sent me a birthday card (electronic) – extremely sweet and very fun. Definitely a great way to start my day!

Today was a day filled with networking, selling, talking to people, writing new content for my company’s website, and lots of planning and thinking about the future – all in all a good way to spend a day. In a few minutes, my parents and I will go out to eat, it has been our longstanding family tradition that on our birthdays, we get to pick a restaurant and try it. Tonight we’re trying a place just blocks from my office, which is by a chef who was a protege of Charlie Trotter – likely a tad pricy, but also I hope very tasty (and definitely stuff I would be unlikely to cook for myself!) Should be a very good end to my birthday.

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95731393

Posted by shannonclark on June 16, 2003

GlobalChicago.NET

My friend Michael Herman has a blog. Michael and I may have somewhat different worldviews on some issues, but I am also highly respectful of the Open Space meeting methodology/consulting work that he does, it is very useful and powerfull stuff.

Though difficult to explain (to a degree) and not always easy to run well.

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95641891

Posted by shannonclark on June 13, 2003

LEVIATHAN 4 LISTING

Mary Anne pointed out this guideline in her journal, in response to a comment I had made to her discussion of writing a story for this anthology.

My comment was, in response to hers about cities that she knew well enough to write about, “Why not write a magical realist piece about the ghosts of cities you have known, that is the wisps of memory, images, sounds, and smells of the places you have known”

She’s not sure if that would work for the anthology – but I’m now feeling inspired, so it is my goal over this weekend to, when not attending the Old Town and Wells Art Festivals to write my story down.

Something about memory and ghosts and our past, present and future, and the intersections that happen when you add a touch of magic into the mix (whether that magic is technology or “magic” I’m not quite sure about actually)

For me, the cities that resonate in this way are Paris, parts of London, Parts of Jeruselam, and a few others. The others in smaller and smaller scenes, a bath in Bath, a dead end in Chapaque (sp I know), a back street in Amsterdam where as a young teen I saw hookers and people doing drugs one block over from a tourist street with street performers of a vastly different nature.

In short the images and memories that linger as we look backwards, and the feelings that they bring to us as we look towards the future.

Paris for me will now always include Luxumberg Gardens where I met some of the coolest people I have ever met while traveling playing chess right before the gardens closed. It will also be the day I walked nearly 15 miles in a vast circle throughout the city, stopping in many different sights, seeing the residential areas, the ancient areas, the rundown parts and the very upscale ones.

London will always been walking back from the office, stopping at theater and buying myself a ticket to a show that evening. It will also be meeting my grandfather and friends in a rented apartment in a very non-touristy part of town and having dinner on the my birthday and getting his watch as a present.

I’m not sure how those scenes and others will make their way into my story, but I’m sure they will – I think it will be about the specifics of place (as per the guidelines) but also about the disconnections that we make from the “reality” as we impose in our own way our reality onto the cities of our minds.

More after I write it.

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95485156

Posted by shannonclark on June 9, 2003

mikegerber.com

Mike’s written “Barry Trotter and the Unauthorized Parody”, which has sold over 100,000 copies.

But more interestingly (to me at least), he’s a fellow alum of OPRFHS, and is married to a friend of mine, also a fellow alum.

Cool stuff.

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95388611

Posted by shannonclark on June 6, 2003

Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Frederik Pohl, etc
or what I am doing during the day this weekend

This weekend is the Printer’s Row Book Fair, which with over 190 book dealers and a weekend’s worth of author readings and signings, will be a very pleasant way to spend the weekend. Though of course, the last thing I really need in my apartment is more books.

So, Saturday I will be looking at an office space in the early morning, then heading downtown for the book fair and Neil Gaiman’s talk at 11:00am at the Harold Washington Library. I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon avoiding buying more books for myself, while looking for inspiration for a gift for my sister, whose birthday is next weekend (Flag Day).

I spoke with her boyfriend this afternoon, she already has the new book by Margaret Atwood, which was going to be my inspired choice for her (and I would have gotten it signed on Sunday, now perhaps I’ll just get myself a copy and get it signed…). update Just got off the phone with my sister, she does not have the book, so now my objective on Sunday is to buy both the new book and The Handmaiden’s Tale (used) and get those signed

Sunday, I plan on cooking – a curry, a good salad, and some rice, and something else, not yet sure what the final dish will be. A friend of mine is moving this weekend (actually more than one friend is moving), and Sunday I am planning on cooking a home cooked meal and delivering it. A good spicy, but slightly sweet curry (yams, chicken, peas, possibly potatoes and carrots) with Mary Anne’s Sri Lankan curry, additional chili pepper, cinnimon, and other spices, onions, and coconut milk. Should be spicy and a bit sweet. (I sometimes add some brown sugar, but may not need to with this recipe). I’ll make some sticky rice as well, and probably a light summer salad (good fresh greens, some dried fruits, some fresh fruits, some blue cheese, and a balsamic vinagrette). For dessert I’m thinking I’ll make something with fresh fruit, and perhaps the angel food cake that I have left over (probably will toast the angel food cake in the oven to get it nice and carmelized, then fresh berries and perhaps mango, and probably some whipped cream or ice cream of some form, still working out the details).

The meal may need one more dish, not sure what however – I’ll think about that over the weekend. Though now I have to also think of dishes I can cook pretty quickly Sunday afternoon as I will be getting back from the Atwood signing in the middle of the afternoon if I am lucky…

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