Searching for the Moon

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

Archive for March, 2004

Basecamp: Web-based Project Management, Idea Management, Client Extranet, Project Site System (simple, elegant, powerful, fast, and usable)

Posted by shannonclark on March 26, 2004

Basecamp: Web-based Project Management, Idea Management, Client Extranet, Project Site System (simple, elegant, powerful, fast, and usable)

Local Chicago company is doing this, looks nice from the documentation, I may consider trying it in the future, though for now Yahoo groups etc works for what I am doing at the moment.

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ItSeemstoMe: Giving Great Interview

Posted by shannonclark on March 25, 2004

ItSeemstoMe: Giving Great Interview

Shel’s points are very good and ones I hope I will need to keep in mind many times in the future, both around JigZaw and around MeshForum.

I think many of his points are good ones for any interaction you do, not just with editors – keep it loose, be honest, be engaging, give and take, be polite.

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The New Yorker: Can you have too many choices?

Posted by shannonclark on March 22, 2004

The New Yorker: Can you have too many choices by Christopher Caldwell

One of the most important pieces of writing I have read in the past year. Very thought provoking discussion (while reviewing to a degree a number of books) on the topic of choice.

As an Existentialist of a sort and a hard “free willer” in my overall philosophy, choice is fundemental to my very being and outlook on life.

This is the first piece of writing I have seen that summarizes something I have intuited but never verbalized, the degree to which a multiplicity of choice is itself a not just a challenge but almost a burden. Christopher Caldwell does a great job of not just highlighting how a series of recently published books tackle this topic, but how their varying suggestions have serious impacts of their own.

My feeling is that we now live in an age where there are easily too many choices that face us all, however rather than giving up on choice alltogether, or continueing to suffer, I think it is an important choice, and one I am getting more and more in the habit of making, to be selective about when to choose, that is, delegate if you can or deal with something at the time you get it instead of waiting until you can make the “best” decisions. Leave that for those decisions that truly matter (marriage, life, death).

In my business(es) I am striving more and more to delegate, to trust that the people I am working with are smart and understand our goals and the framework within which we are opperating. If they cannot make some choices on their own, then we are not a company, but rather just me.

In my personal life I need to think more about what I worry about what I do not, not every meal has to be the “perfect” meal for the moment, not every gift the best gift ever.

Indeed a recent gift of flowers to my girlfriend showed this very dramatically. I looked at many flowers from many stores over the course of two days, finally returning to the store where I had started where I selected three very large and dramatic roses. A red rose, a multicolored orange rose and a pink rose.

This was a week ago. The red rose was dramatic and big, but also the first to die, leaving behind deep almost purple petals.

The orange rose bloomed and enlarged, but it too died, but we caught it early enough that it will dry whole and it still retains a wonderful scent.

The pink rose, which had started out the least dramatic of the three has bloomed and opened up to reveal a large and perfect rose. It had started out almost white, but has now darkened and grown to a light pink, as of this morning it was still vibrant over a week later.

My point, the “obvious” romatic choice of red roses would not, in some level, have been as dramatic as what I ended up giving, but more to the point, what I ended up giving was exactly what I had first thought about giving, but had then gone into two other stores and spent a day deciding.

Was it worth it? I have to wonder, but I also have to think that trusting my instincts is usually a good policy.

So, go, read the article and decide for yourself.

(side note – the New Yorker appears to keep articles up for a long time, but does not seem to want to share this fact with the visitors to the New Yorker website, I could not find a link to the archives anywhere)

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Idea to file away for another time

Posted by shannonclark on March 19, 2004

or something for me to write when…

In quickly reading a review of the new Angelia Jolie film, Taking Lives (on Salon) inspired me to the following idea, which someday, perhaps I’ll take up again and write.

Most serial killer movies (and there are a lot of them on the big screen and many more on the small screen of TV specials and TV shows), use dark, even black spaces and views to imbue themselves with an air of darkness and evil and lurking risk hidden in the shadows.

What if, instead, I were to write a movie about evil and horror and risk, but set it in an almost preternaturally beautiful and attractive setting. My instinct is that this would enhance and highten the horror.

Perhaps even more “fun” (at least to write) would be to set something in the very much real world, the world when even on your worst days the sun may shine across a cool, crisp, perfect sky and in the reflectoins and budding flowers and the people all around there is beauty and happiness even as you personally (and thus in a movie, the audiance by way of the point of view character if there is one) are in the midst of crisis or utter despair.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy, probably more so than I have been for a very long time (not that I can’t see myself even happier – with a clean condo, cashflow, time to finish the books that have piled up etc). But, I do think that this idea is a powerful one (not completely unusual, some recent movies such as American Beauty used something similar, but it also appeals to my visual style and sensability as well as my writing instincts.

Photographically my normal goal is to achieve very high contrast, to capture brightness and sparseness in the midst of rich color and shapes. I love pictures without people, or with just shadows, or closeups that are asymetrical.

For this film I have a few ideas not sure which I owuld draw upon to be my inspiration.

One would be the murders near Yellowstone – amazing scenes and visuals would be possible, but the story would suffer from my own personal lack of knowledge.

More like, I would draw upon my own life, my own high school experiences my senior year.

It was a year when I had very little to do, having already taken all but about two of the classes I needed to graduate and after getting through the Fall, I was already accepted to the schools to which I wanted to go and just had to make the decision as to which place to attend.

At the same time, in the midst of seeming normality and “perfection” in Oak Park, in the historical district, the land of even then million doller homes by world famous architects (Sullivan designed home next door, Frank Llyod Wright homes all around etc.), there was true evil and horror lurkieng.

Also comedy however.

On a personal level I was the outcast of the nerds – so a very low man on the totem pole. I was the captain of the Chess team. My “friends” play pranks, more innocent then than it would have been today – they left a random package on my doorstep on day. We did seriously consider whether it might be a bomb, it was a package that was very big and had been left on our front door steps but not by the mailman.

After much consideration, we finally opened it to find, quite literally, a kitchen sink (so I can, in truth say I have been given the kitchn sink…)

So, “funny” I guess, but also a sign of how my “friends” were not all that they appeared (or claimed) to be. I would later learn even more about what they did and called me behind my back.

So that’s the context for the next piece, the one that would and could be large part of a movie. It was just days to graduation, the eve or the day or two before the Prom, when one of my classmates was found, dead, in a Forest Preserve.

Upon further investigation two facts were learned, one – she had been pregnant and two – it was determined that she had been killed by a neighbor of mine, in fact the man who lived directly behind my house, that just a few feet (and one large set of hedges/trees) away with a group of friends he had killed her. It was reported that he did this “to see what it was like” (needless to say the neighbors have comitted to appearing at any of his parole board hearings in the future and doing what we can to make sure he never again sees freedom.

The woman who was killed was not a completely random classmate. She had, in fact, been in some of the same groups I belonged to, and in fact, had been the prom date for a childhood friend of mine (who a year or so later one summer when we both were back from college would inform me that he had come out and was a country music loving flaming gay man, something his whiskey drinking, frequently dating high school persona had given little hint of).

In short the ending weeks of my high school senior year were surreal in a way that if pitched in a movie would likely be dismissed as implaussible, but they were real and did happen.

Topping it off was the graduation ceremony itself. While the whole senior class watched, and our parents were in the football stand behind us, and one of the five valecditorians were giving a speech (there was a sixth one who thankfully had decided not to speak), we all saw a station wagon pull up on the street aside from us.

I should paint the picture, the football stadium was of the type that was only on one side of the football field, the south side in this case. We (the seniors) were seated on the field itself, the stage with the principal and speakers was on the north side of the field. Then was a walkway and some fences then four softball/baseball fields, then another walkway and in the distance (about two Chicago city blocks away) the school tennis courts. Between these fields was an alleyway/sidewalk and then the school building – this was, however, blocked to cars at each end.

The stationwagon pulled up just north of the football field by the entrance to the softball fields. Out of the car can a midget, a classmate who was not graduating with us. He stripped and then streaked the ceremony, but on the northside, so most of the parents missed, concentrating as they were on watching their children in the audiance or looking at the speakers. As he crossed passed the stage and to the east side, about near the pitcher’s mound he stood and danced a jig, and then ran back to the waiting car.

Somewhat odd, okay, very odd, and a fitting in many ways end to that year which had been and was so completely surreal.

anywawy, when I have time, this may serve as the launching point for a movie that I write, which I would hope to have a lot of input into filming as well… we’ll see.

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Perl/PHP function translation table

Posted by shannonclark on March 18, 2004

Sometimes you come across a link to something so useful you wonder why someone hadn’t written it earlier. Thistranslation table between Perl and PHP is one such piece of writing. (thanks to Anil Dash for the link)

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Fairvue Central >> Features >> Fourth Annual Weblog Awards

Posted by shannonclark on March 15, 2004

Fairvue Central >> Features >> Fourth Annual Weblog Awards

Many blogs that I read (BoingBoing) or sites that I have enjoyed (BlogShares) were nominated this year.

However, the nominees are also a bit of a TODO list for me, many great sites for me to explore and read – dangerous to my rapidly diminishing free time, but worthwhile as well.

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Port Knocking

Posted by shannonclark on March 15, 2004

Port Knocking

Interesting idea (link from BoingBoing) which offers a suggestion about opening up closed ports in response to a sequence of requests to various ports. I like the overall concept as it suggests many interesting possibilities to capture information by way of a sequence of legal (but blocked) requests over a given period of time.

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MAPILab.Com – Outlook Addins

Posted by shannonclark on March 10, 2004

MAPILab.Com – Outlook Addins

Amazing collection of Outlook addins – very powerful and looks likely I’ll buy one or more of these.

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Salon.com Life | I put up with more than my girlfriend does

Posted by shannonclark on March 8, 2004

Salon.com Life | I put up with more than my girlfriend does

(yup, catching up on my Salon reading).

I’m a lucky man. Contemplating replying to Cary in fact… 🙂

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Salon.com Arts & Entertainment | Spalding Gray’s body found in East River

Posted by shannonclark on March 8, 2004

Salon.com Arts & Entertainment | Spalding Gray’s body found in East River

A sad day.

As a writer I have to say that watching Spalding Gray, the times that I have, is and has been very influential on how I think and how I write. My few performance pieces (not performed for many, many years) were certainly influenced in part by him, at least how I thought of myself on stage.

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