Searching for the Moon

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

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

On the watching, or not, of fireworks

Posted by shannonclark on July 5, 2006

I went and saw, alone, Superman Returns this evening. Then I ate halfway decent Chinese food at one of the few places still open in Berkeley, and came home where I sit and type this entry, procrastinating the packing and other items that loom in front of me. Having returned from Seattle this past weekend I had over 4000 emails to download yesterday, today I have to start working my way through the real ones (about 1000 or so, many of which I have already dealt with).

And there are many people from Gnomedex I have to follow up with, more on Gnomedex at piecing IT together where I will also blog about my next projects. The MeshWalk on Sunday was a great success and I will also be blogging about that on MeshForum.

But more about the lack of fireworks. Or to be fair, not much more.

It is strange but for a while now, July 4th has been a special holiday for me, a time of friendships, a secular holiday, one that any American can celebrate and enjoy. For a while, it was also an aniversary for me, but not this year.

So this year there were no fireworks.

Tomorrow I start moving, packing, preparing, negotiating my second move this year and prepare to move into the fourth place I’ve called home in less than a year. A bit scary, but also exciting. My new place is pretty darn cool – much more about that in future posts – and I look forward to living there for a long time to come. But this week will be hard as I pack and move, while working on the many projects and ideas that sprouted while at Gnomedex.

A little bit about my new place – it is in Noe Valley in San Francisco, in a more residential area than I have lived in anytime in the past decade, so that will be an adjustment, but it is still quite near the Muni and some great cafes and restaurants. The place is technically a 1 bedroom, but has a lot of special features.

  • A bedroom which will fit a king bed with much room to spare, has a walk-in close, and french doors to the living room
  • A kitchen, partially updated, with space for a small eat in table and chairs, plus a gas stove, an older fridge and just a portable dishwasher, but overall a very functional room
  • A large living room with a bay window, French Doors and some other great spaces
  • A great sun room off the living room, a perfect space for a desk and reading chair, a space I’ll use frequently

But it is the second closet, in the living room, that decided the apartment for me. In that closet is the best feature, a large spiral staircase that leads down to the “bonus” room. The bonus room has two windows (opaqued), hardwood floors, and a steel beam running the down the middle of the room. The space is about 25 x 30 (possibly larger, I’ll measure it tomorrow) and is, in short, incrediable. A secret den, a workshop, an amazing media center, a recording studio, the potential uses are countless.

For the moment my plan is to use it as my library, to keep an air mattress there as a guest bed, and to set up my newly won xbox 360 there once I get a projector and screen. I’ll then get some desks to place by the windows, couches and/or theater seats for the media spaces, and a large table to use as a work surface or game space, plus some benches and other seats.

In short, it will be my lair, the space where I, and I hope many others, work to build and create, play and laugh.

And I’ll set up the upstairs to be a fully functional apartment, plenty of room in all of the rooms for everything I need, I’ll probably set it up so you almost wouldn’t guess about the extra space that lurks below the apartment…

So that’s my fun for the week.

And if you are in San Francisco (or passing through) you have a place to stay if you need it, and this weekend if you are around, I’ll probably hold a housewarming – contact me for the evite.

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Bloggercon – emotions and blogging

Posted by shannonclark on June 23, 2006

I am sitting at Bloggercon where I am listening to a discussion about emotional blogging and what to put/not put in your blogs.

I tend to write and live in a very open manner – I assume that having been online for so long that pretty much my entire life (warts, glasses, bad habits and all) will show up online and in fairly simple searches. (search flickr for me – you’ll see what I mean)

I’m in the midst of looking for a new place to live – moved to the bay area in January and signed a 6 month lease in Berkeley – now I’m looking for a place in San Francisco (possibly with roommates – so not unlikely that you might be reading this very post). My personal relationships are also changing – which puts me in a bit of an awkward position about how/what/if to write about it.

More on that later (if you know me personally, ask I’ll explain)

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The (RED) Independant

Posted by shannonclark on May 16, 2006

Go and read The (RED) Independent today.

Independent Online Edition

It is an example to learn from and admire.

A great website and use of online media by an offline brand.

And a powerful statement and impactful gesture by a leading media brand in the UK towards helping with the Aids crisis in Africa. As a reader in the US, it is also a pointed indictment of the debates here in the US about how media might stay relevant. The tone and quality of the writing is much better than I encounter here in the US (good enough in fact that if I were living in the UK I would serious plan on subscribing and reading The Independent on a regular basis).

But as much as that is the case, I am also admiring of the high quality of the ADS on the Independent’s website. They are clear, concise, and very well integrated into the site and relevant. I dove into a section of the Independent about education and post-graduate degrees, curious what they were publishing and what their take was. On the upper right, Bloomberg LP had a highly relevant ad, well writen (with a minimum of words) noting that they were hiring.

In contrast in my limited use of US newspapers online, the ads and even the overall experience is much more limiting and the relvance of the ads much lower, as well as the quality of the content much less.

I did not, at least in thie special edition, see any content from The Independent that was not directly from their own writers (or guest editorials). In most cases at the end of the article as published there was more information – about the author at the very least, but in one case a link to the full transcript of the interview which was published (see

So go, read the issue, and do what you can to support Project (REF) (and in the process also encourage more voices of the media to be of as high a quality)

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joan miro – Google Image Search

Posted by shannonclark on April 20, 2006

joan miro – Google Image Search

Check out the Google logo today.

Perhaps my favorite painter – I’m not sure why but Miro is.

I remember an Art Chicago where I spent a lot of time in a booth at Navy Pier looking a very large Miro that was hanging in a gallery from Canada’s booth.

For a “mere” $1.5M I could have had a very large, truly incrediable painting by Joan Miro.

And looking at it I realize a small bit of why I really like his work – the colors, the intensity, the patterns and sense of thought, yet fluidity and variablity, the simplicity – but a simplicity that belies a lot of thought and a clear, strong style. You see a work by him and you know that it was by him.

(the logo today is very well done btw)

Art, even unobtainable art is worth attention.

And, very seriously, when I have the money I do hope to have a work by Miro (though unless I am very lucky unlikely a large work like the one I viewed years ago in Chicago).

When my move costs are covered, my condo in Chicago is sold, a new (cheap) car is purchased etc – and when income starts coming in more regularly and significently I plan on starting to more seriously purchase art. My current collection is very eclectic and hard to display – a few pieces by my sister, a few other random pieces, and a collection of Plages magazines (a French art magazine, quarterly, each issue being a limited edition of all original works – so each issue is in fact unique though related to the other issues in that the artists who contribute each make as many versions of their work as there are issues of that quarter’s magazine.) And each quarter’s issue is on a specific theme.

A very cool but strange work – and my collection has lapsed, so I may have to renew and purchase some back issues the next chance I get.

So for the moment I will just support art via doing things like inviting a number of artists to exhibit and present network related works at MeshForum 2006 May 7-9 in San Francisco

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Bill Gates lands role in ‘Doctor Who’ | | CNET

Posted by shannonclark on April 3, 2006

Bill Gates lands role in ‘Doctor Who’ | | CNET

And yet another reason I will have to get my hands on some episodes of the new Dr. Who one of these days…

With the exception of the current new series, I have seen EVERY single episode of Dr. Who which survives, and even most of the ones that only fragments of which survive. In high school my friend Dwight Sora and I had a collection of Dr. Who items whch included tapes of nearly every episode, most of the then published books, and many many more items. I still have my half of the collection in boxes at my parent’s house in Illinois.

I was not a serious fan of Star Wars or Star Trek, I was always more of a fan of Dr. Who. For me, the series had much more complexity and possibilities than either of the more “American” SF series and special effects aside, I always found the ongoing universe of Dr. Who vastly more compelling and engaging. As well, as a fan, I loved how interactive and long standing the series was, with more recent shows (including the latest which I have yet to be seen) clearly being the work of long time fans such as myself.

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SF Web Innovators Feb 2nd at Adaptive Path in SF

Posted by shannonclark on January 25, 2006

I am co-hosting the SF Web Innovators Network event on Feb 2nd at the offices of Adaptive Path in San Francisco. We are very pleased that the law firm of Fish and Richardson and Adaptive Path have agreed to co-sponsor this event.

SFWIN events are open to any interested in new and emerging web applications, we bring together a great mix of investors, entrepreneurs and service providers (and some users). For the Feb 2nd event, RSVP at the SF Web Innovators wiki. The cost is a $20 donation at the door which will help cover the costs of future events.

Hope to see you there – and by the way it is now official, I am a resident of the Bay Area having rented a house in Berkeley and flown here this afternoon.

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Chicago ex-pats Bears Party on Sunday Jan 15th

Posted by shannonclark on January 9, 2006

On Sunday Jan 15th, though I will be in my new home of Berkeley CA, I will gather with friends and fellow ex-pats to the West Coast from Chicago to watch a little Bear’s Football.

Sure, I’m a geek but I’m also a somewhat secret sports fan… and I’m most certainly a fan of the Chicago Bears. I remember vividly watching the Bears win it all in 1985, watching all of the games at homes of childhood friends as my family didn’t yet have a tv (side note about that, my parents still only watch the one tv they got nearly 20 years ago – which was a used tv at that!)

So, on Sunday, I am organizing a gathering in the San Francisco Bay Area to watch the Bears beat the Carolina Panthers. If my new Berkeley home has both a TV and cable signal I may host this gathering there… though since I likely won’t yet have such minor details as seating… most likely this gathering will be at a bar (or perhaps cafe or restaurant) somewhere in San Francisco, less likely somewhere in Berkeley.

Even if you are not a Chicago ex-pat you are certainly welcome to join us, just keep the “da’s” to a minimum… I’ll post the venue when it is set, if you are interested or have a suggestion for a venue please leave a comment or send me an email.

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Some hints on the Stripping of Wallpaper

Posted by shannonclark on January 7, 2006

I wrote this as a response to a FreeCycle offer I made for some leftover wallpaper stripping supplies, I post it here in the hope that it will help someone else as well.

Well we mostly followed the instructions but a few things we found:

– the spray bottle while good in theory didn’t work as well in practice as we might have liked – better for many areas was a paintbrush (we used the DEF gel, diluting it for a second coat)

– scoring with the paper tiger definitely helped – as did getting off the first outer layer(s) to the extent that they would peel off dry

– a large brush and washcloth, used in conjunction with each other worked extremely well to get off the final layer of glue, though it helped having someone rince off each frequently

– for the stripping a good scrapper helped considerably (we ended up with three different styles, the best/most effective being ones with razer blades though you have to be careful not to damage the walls) but we also found that an old metal spatula worked very well for the well soaked layers of paper, often better than the stiffer blades.

– we also used latex gloves but still found that the frequent soaking in water left our hands fairly raw after the stipping of paper

Hope this helps,


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On peeling paper

Posted by shannonclark on January 4, 2006

As the year starts I find myself engaged in the first real big home improvement project of my 9+ years of home ownership, the same month as I am on the brink (I hope) of selling my first place.

While this morning, when I met with my realtor, my condo was fairly clean and well organized, now as I type this, I am surrounded by piles and dust from a hard day’s work.

Tomorrow we finish what we started today, then we spackle, sand, and put down primer, perhaps also paint. It will be a long and busy afternoon tomorrow, but at the end my condo will look better than it has ever today.

So back to today – after my morning meeting with my realtor, I then spent the rest of the morning going through three of my last “random” boxes of personal files, business files, and other random objects. As I finished with the last of these boxes (a blue milkcrate which held a rather random mix of papers from 6 years ago mixed with projects from a few months back) the handyman/cleaning man whom I had hired arrived.

Vincent (of the appropriately named “Vincent’s Obsessive Cleaning”) is a very good friend and former roommate of the husband of a good friend of my girlfriend (whose wedding we attended a while back and with whom we spent New Year’s Eve). Today, however, rather than cleaning (other than some light dusting), we decided to spend the afternoon stripping the wallpaper which was (great phrase – was…) on the walls of my kitchen.

I should describe this – it is hard to believe. It was an off-yellow striped wallpaper with small flower details, then topped by a horrible floral border. All laid so badly that (at least on some walls) the seams were peeling and clearly visible.

This had hung on the walls when I purchased the condo, I had always planned on redoing the whole kitchen, however my finances for the past few years as well as time availability prevented ever doing that (plus I really want a gas burner and in the high rise I live in that is not possible). So I have lived with some of the ugliest wallpaper possible for the past 9+ years.

But no more. It is all down, including the underlayers of two other wall papers (which were more like cardboard with a white checker pattern!). Sure, it took us 7 hours, three people, $50 in supplies and a lot of sweat but we go it all down. Tomorrow we get the remaining bits of paper and all the massive amounts of glue.

This evening, after we finished with the stipping for now, Julia and I went to Home Depot, where we bought more there than I have ever before – two gallons of paint matched to the current cabinets, primer, brushes, dropcloths, spackle, sandpaper, a new fire extinguisher, a new smoke alarm, and new hardware for all of my cabinets (which need it – the old hardware looks to be from the late 70’s/early 80’s).

Tomorrow we strip glue and paper, spackle, prime and hopefully paint!

Then, when this is all done, when I have paid Vincent, photographed my clean new home, given away various random items to remove them (office supplies, misc. kitchen items, etc) and can relax, it will be time for me to leave Chicago and head back to Berkeley where I start a similar process in reverse.

There I move into a nearly empty and unfurnished rental – we’ll be ordering a bed and mattress shortly so I can sleep – and then I’ll start finding furnishings one piece and room at a time.

It is a challenge and at times stressful, but also it is exciting and invigorating, somehow perfectly suited to the beginning of a new year. In a few short days I will be in my first new home in almost a decade, and my first home outside of Chicago for over two decades. I’ll still follow the Bears in the post-season (contact me if you want an invite to the Chicago expat’s party on either the 14th or 15th in the Bay Area) and in my heart I will always hold Chicago close, but I am thrilled at all that awaits us in Berkeley and the Bay Area.

My family has many ties to California, it is the state my mother grew up, my grandparents have always lived there (grandmother in Southern CA and grandfather in Northern CA), where my aunt lives and where my parents met. But there is a vast difference between the occasional visit, mostly to relatives or very close family friends, and living there, spending every day there for weeks, months, hopefully years.

It will be a change, gone will be the dramatic shifts of seasons from the bitter, freezing cold of Chicago winters to the oppressive humid heat of August in Chicago, but with my favorite seasons inbetween where Chicago does get great weather. In its place will be real hills and elevation changes, an ocean instead of a lake, and incrediable diversity and beauty all around me. Sure there are many cars and cookie cutter developments in the suburbs but San Francisco and some of the older communities around it (Berkeley for example but also Oakland) have a rich and old history and tradition of their own as well as amazing restaurants, farmer’s markets, artists and activities.

On a professional front there is still no substitution from the easy access and interconnectivity of Silicon Valley. In just over a month there at the end of 2005 I accomplished far more professionally than I had in the past 5 years in Chicago (with the possible exception of pulling off MeshForum). In my short time in CA I greatly deepened and strengthed my relationships with lots of people, I met many new friends, and had a number of exciting opportunities for the future. As these continue into the new year, look here and at my professional blog, piecing IT together for all the details.

Happy New Year and may your year be full of new opportunities, great friendships and opportunities for quiet reflection and engagement.

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Happy New Year 2006

Posted by shannonclark on January 1, 2006

A quick post – thanks to all the wonderful friends I’ve made in 2005 – it has been an exciting ride and hopefully 2006 will be the year where it all comes together in many different and wonderful ways.

In 2005 my dream of a few years ago happened – MeshForum 2005 was a great success and brought together an amazing group of people. What was just a glimmer of an idea a few years ago happened and now in 2006 come the hard part of doing it again, only better and bigger.

2006 will be a year of major changes for me – starting later this month I will be moving from my long time home of Chicago to Berkeley CA. I leave behind friends, family and a city I love, but I join family, friends and a wonderful new state and city. In CA I will continue to run and organize MeshForum. I will also pursue a number of business opportunities through JigZaw and will continue to work with great non-profits such as Hope Street Group.

My consulting in 2006 will take me, I hope, in a new direction. Besides continueing to assist companies large and small with understanding their products, business opportunities and technical resources (both internal applications, purchased products and possible partners/products in the marketplace) I will also be pursuing another long held interest, Flow Economics.

Flow Economics (my name for a field of Economics I am exploring) is the study of Economics as a Network. That is, the implications of looking at economic activity as occurring on, creating and destroying a network. Where nodes are entities and links represent transactions.

In 2006 I will explore this concept through articles, blog posts, possibly a book, and definitely consulting work with enterprises (and possibly other types of organizations such as foundations, universities, government agencies etc.). In my work with organizations, we will start by looking at the implications of a network perspective, then we will analyze the actual flows of value throughout the network of the enterprise – from external sources to internal resources to external entities. This analysis will be very importantly looking at these flows over time – looking at both the structures which evolve as well as where value is created, stored, and used.

It will be an exciting year – I hope you are enjoying it with loved ones and that the new year brings great opportunities for all – personally and professionally.

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