What’s (not) on my mind?

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

Oh, it’s never a good sign when you rub your eyes, press F10, and behold a stacked-up-over-Hartsfield fiesta of just your web browser’s windows reflecting how much you’re holding ‘in the buffer’—waiting to be dealt with, processed, bookmarked, thought about, acted upon, tracked, blogged upon, shipped, and/or understood.

At just after midnight, what, 33 windows? Oh wait, a bunch of those are tabbed windows, too, We’ve been back in town just over a week now and, well, this gives you a fair idea of the state of, oh, my office, my desk, the back yard, my brain.

Sometimes I wish for a nice summertime power surge just to clear things off—to do for me what it’s sometimes hard to do myself—so I can start again. Darn you, reliable G5 running OS X 10.4.7.

The welcome mat is not quite out.

Monday, July 10th, 2006

Okay, maybe I spoke too soon. Here we are in the heart of the midwest, the center of hospitality, warmth, and apple pie…uh, right? We found an unprotected wireless and took advantage of the link to the wonders of the internet. A gentleman came by politely greeted us, we openly discussed whart we were doing and we thanked him for making the wireless available. “We should make them some muffins,” Sammy said.

Next time I was there a scowling woman came out to the road walked past our truck and started scribbling furiously. Ah, writing down the foreigners license plate number. “Is there something I can help you with?” “I’m reporting you for prosecution. What you’re doing is a federal crime.”
Um, I see. I told her that where I came from an unlocked wireless signal was more of a neighborly thing to do, where we shared our bandwidth happily and hoped that others would do the same, and besides, we checked with another gentleman who came out yesterday and he voiced no objection.

And then that same once-amiable guy came by and he too was scowling. Turns out that the brother-in-law—who wasn’t around—the guy who paid for the setup—went ballistic in absentia and told them that we were using his bandwidth for no good.

Bottom line, of course, I said “sorry, goodbye” and rolled down the road to friendlier portals.

So, is it the neighborly thing to do? I suppose if folks have the attitude of share and share alike, the system works well, and indeed, throughout silicon valley and the pacific northwest, there are abundant unlocked wifi hotspots and a ‘help yourself’ attitude. Everyone benefits, and the incremental casual use of bandwidth (in my opinion) is a blip on anyone’s monthly usage (someone checking their email is not the same as someone running a webserver and pushing video out on borrowed bandwidth, I agree.)

There have been recent stories (no links, sorry, we’re offline) of nasty don’t-use-my-bandwidth fights in Boston and elsewhere in the northeast…and maybe it is one of those distinctable ethics questions where a casual use is one thing, but if you’re using your neighbor’s packets 24/7 it’s quite something else.

But I always like to err on the side of (and reward) neighborliness. So no muffins for them!

Forgotten June.

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

Hello from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is where Sammy and her parents return like, well, I don’t know, like waterfowl of some sort, every year.

Because it’s July, that means that there was an entire June in there, brimming with events unblogged, after my Memorial Day trip to Ohio with my father and before this one.

So why is that exactly? Well, best as I can figure I get into a certain mode that says “I can’t spend time on recreational writing when I’m behind on my work writing,” and I was, much of June, having trouble writing a work proposal for a client I know will be high-maintenance and yet who doesn’t have enough money to do the job right. So…a sort of paralysis, until finally I send off something just to clear the decks.

And unfortunately, that means I lost the opportunity to pour lighted prose on the fires of new software, comings and goings in the land of the internet (Amanda Congdon leaves Rocketboom!), events in our neighborhood (they cut down the Bradford Pear trees at the intersection of Virginia and Highland!) and missed the chance to wish happy birthdays to my brother, my brother-in-law, my niece…heck, even a cousin or two.

So were I to maintain a strict chronological discipline, much would remain unblogged—the struggle to replace our defunct and spewing water heater with a fancy in-demand model, the art of traveling in an old Ford Explorer through seas of elevated gas prices, and of course all the sadness and criminality that emerges from the doings of the Bush administration in Washington.

But it’s July and we’ve found generous satellite/wifi sharers on the shores of Manistique Lake, and our days are filled with cottage-chores, miscellaneous chopping, sawing, and mowing, and summertime conviviality. We’ve got a lasagne to enjoy over by Curtis, and the sun stays up so very late at these latitudes.

So, with a smile, I guess it’s simply: forward.