Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday: scripture and code

We spent the morning and early afternoon at church, first listening to the Rev. Dr. John Kater talk about Lent, at a forum, then at services followed by a class called Confirm not Conform.

At home I settled into the task of adapting a graphic artist's CSS-plus-graphics treatment to a Wordpress template, also for church. We took a dinner break at Sara and Peter Bostock's (also fellow church members) and now I'm back on the Mac, learning anew the mysteries of CSS and php. We kind of have the 'serving the Lord' thing going on today... 10:18:49 PM

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back on the home range

Sweet spouse Linda said, as she walked in this evening, "The house smells like New Orleans." No wonder this marriage is in its 28th year.

And yes, we'd spent a couple hours this afternoon making roux, sauteeing mirepoix and very slowly blending it into a gumbo that has slowly simmered down to something resembling what we've been eating for the past 5 days in New Orleans. This was my dinner tonight as Linda was out with a friend. The gumbo will be on tomorrow night's menu with Alaskan cod and a salad of cherry tomatoes...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

With camera in hand...


My new acquaintance is named Victor. He's the guy who hangs out on the corner of California and Birch in Palo Alto, near the Printers Inc. cafe. As we do a couple times a week we had a chat over cocoa (Victor) and coffee (me).

We were in range of the Printers Inc. Wi Fi, so I showed Victor his picture on the blog on my netbook, which amused him. Victor read me his poem, which he read from his copy book.

Under the bridge and through the snow,
Where do the homeless go in Palo Alto?
Loneliness and despair are our only friends.

The wet, cold sidewalks are our beds, some of us die.
God help us - hot food is needed

There are a few lines that I'm having a hard time reading. It didn't help that I made the rooky mistake of ignoring parallax while focusing close with my rangefinder camera (have to remember to tilt the camera down a bit - the M8 viewfinder apparently doesn't compensate for the Zeiss 50mm Planar). I think I'll take the digital voice recorder next time.... 11:48:19 AM


We went to hear Steven Charleston, Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Northern California, speak at Church of the Nativity in San Carlos last night. Half Irish, half native American and a former Baptist, he has an amazing perspective on faith and culture in the 21st century. Well worth listening to, even if you are of the secular persuasion... 11:18:19 AM

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A new theme

We're working on moving over to the Thesis theme/development tool for Wordpress - so readers will be seeing some weirdness while we play with this tool. Scott thinks highly of Thesis, and we value his judgment (he recently put up a new blog for his consultancy using Thesis, and documented the process).  Fasten seatbelts, place your tray in the upright and locked position... here we go...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Content, by the ton

It would be wonderful to spend this stormy day blogging and writing essays, particularly in response to some pretty silly things floating around the net and social media on the topic of journalism and newspapers, but I promised sweet spouse Linda that I would dig into the task of evaluating the very easiest web site creation software for our church.

Linda has already done a ton of work evaluating different packages, and now wants a geek's eye view of the options. The goal is to make the site easily updatable over the web by multiple authors, both clergy and lay people, many of whom may have only basic computer skills. So we're heads down combing over the prototype site Linda cooked up with the help of a web developer, seeing if there is a way to make it even easier to use...

"Tweeku are poems economical in size, evocative in impact, lilting or crunching or slithering or slouching towards meaning in 140 characters" Just posted this to, where else, Twitter... 8:43:34 PM

Monday, February 09, 2009

The N Judah 'public beta'


It seemed to me that the 'book' feature in iPhoto would be a good way to assemble and view a portfolio of pictures. So I bundled up a collection of photos that I took on the N Judah streetcar and CalTrain while I was commuting to radiation therapy at UCSF's radiation oncology department in San Francisco.

We did a quick first draft, mostly to see how the repro in the book looked relative to the photos on screen (predictably, the shadows became darker) and then fixed up and sent off a second draft, which came back this past Friday.

I've posted a page which gives more information about the project, and allows readers to download a PDF version of the second draft - a 'public beta' (please feel free to leave your comments). With a bit more fiddling with some of the photos, we'll be ready to print a very limited run edition which will be offered for sale. We may also offer prints of some of the photos... signed by the 'artist'...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Reaching up (and out) to the brain

bowls_shelf_225.jpgThe bowls you see here are on a shelf in my kitchen that is a bit less than 6 feet from the floor. Since shortly after I finished radiation therapy in December 0f 2006, I haven't been able to reach them with my left hand.

As part of my rehab program, I started to try to reach them about a month ago (these are breakfast bowls, so I do this every day). At first I could only reach up to the bottom shelf. With repeated reaching (to this shelf and another where my medications are stored), I slowly was able to reach higher.

Two weeks ago I finally touched the top bowl, and managed to get a finger under it. This morning, I picked up the top two bowls (one for Linda) and lowered them to the counter in one piece.

I mention this not just because I'm pleased to have back some use of the previously all-but-paralyzed limb, but because it illustrates the theory of neuroplasticity, the idea that the brain can be made to rewire itself, to route around damage (in my case, a brain tumor).

My experience teaches that it takes multiple repetitions - some hundreds or thousands - of simple movements to get them working again. Building neural connections is like building muscles at the gym - and proceeds about as quickly. If you keep at it, it will come...