Older blog entries for jfleck (starting at number 67)

I'm so easily tricked.

Mentioning my gnome-db2html3 procrastination in my diary worked, and I spent much of the day today working on the stylesheets. Shame is a powerful motivator, even when (especially when?) self-imposed.

It looks like we will benefit greatly by upgrading to Norman Walsh's 1.40 stylesheets. They fix some of the issues Eugene O'Connor had been worried about in a more elegant way than the customization I was thinking of.

You know, I've really been procrastinating on this world peace thing....
real world
My employer today began its grand experiment - charging for its web site.

I believe this will not work. But giving it away for free clearly did not work in a business sense, so I suppose there's no harm in trying.

The advertising model for the web does not work. No one, with the possible exception of a few major brands, is making money this way. So if people want quality information, the kind gathered and written by professionals, sooner or later they will have to pay in one way or another.

I have to eat, and in five short years I'll be paying to send my daughter to college. So as a "professional" (as in "gets paid for it") I grit my teeth and accept it.

But this is a sad day indeed, because all I really want is to write stories and have lots of people read them. The web was great for that - a substantially larger audience of potential readers. But I must admit it is a bit self-indulgent of me to expect my employer to subsidize that vanity.

If I still want that audience, I of course have Advogato or Inkstain. I have the freedom to write what I want, when I want, for whom I want. Alas, I can't have my cake and eat it too. I can't have the comfort of a salary for my work and free distribution of it as well.
The hawk comes first

Lissa and I went out two evenings ago (was it Thursday?) to see the hawk in the evening. She was standing on the edge of her nest, sticking her butt out at us, feeding the babies. We never saw the babies, and now I'm not sure I saw them earlier, maybe just imagined it.

It has become a community affair. Lynn and Martin were out watching with binoculars and their telephoto lens, and Martin toting his ever-present oxygen tank (the man is a joy and an inspiration - I wanna be that cheerful and energetic if I ever get that sick).

Lissa and I did careful bird book analysis, and based on the good long look we got at her butt, we're pretty sure she's a Cooper's hawk.
My bike rides have been productive the last couple of days, but I think I'll have to start billing the newspaper for my time in the saddle. Both yesterday and today I ran into sources, and got stories I'll need to follow up on. Slowed me down, both times, too. I guess one can never leave one's job.

Today, too bad. I was getting a great time on a long timed loop up along the river and back through the northeast heights, keeping the average elapsed time speed over 17 mph, which means mostly 19+ before you subtract out the intersections and other imposed slowdowns. My legs are strong now. It's time to tackle whatever challenges I can before I start wimping out and backing off this training regimen. The mountain beckons....
I've been procrastinating on the much-needing GNOME Documentation Project xsl stylesheet and related coding for the help system. It's hard, that's why. Some days it's just easier to veg out and cruise bugzilla sorting bugs, and still feel like I'm being GNOME productive (hey, it's better than Tetris!). By writing this public admission in my diary, I force myself to start thinking about it again. I'm so dumb and easily tricked....
confessional redux
yakk made a fascinating observation about these diaries the other day which applies to all of us. We're better at writing what we do than how we feel. Guilty.
I finally saw our neighborhood's new baby hawks this morning.

I heard about them over the weekend, and Lissa and I went looking for them Sunday evening but couldn't find them. We knew they were in one of the big elm trees at the park, and were pretty sure which one, but couldn't find the nest. We've seen the mama in a nearby pine tree keeping watch, but no luck with the babies.

So on my morning bike rides this week I've added an extra loop around the park every day, looking for our neighbor Lynn, who has been watching them. This morning I caught up with her on her morning walk, and she showed me the nest.

It's way up in the tree, so I need to come back with binoculars. But I could see little moving baby hawk heads poking up over the top of it, and mama, ever vigilant, standing watch. Lynn calls her Henrietta.
A week ago, I mentioned bumping into my friend Nancy on a ride. She's training for one of those big, long, fund-raising treks. She's also a writer - here's an account of her experiences so far.
gleblanc - Sorry. I was way too obscure there. "Emergent properties" is the idea of collective behaviors that arise out of the actions of a host of independent agents, each acting on their own. Ants are a great example. There's no "ant boss", no one in charge. Each ant has a bunch of simple behaviors, yet a rich and complex behavior arises out of their collective effort. If one ant finds food, it grabs some and walks home, leaving a trail of a particular pheromone. When other ants smell that pheromone, they follow it in the opposite direction, toward the food, grab some, and head home, leaving more pheromones. The result is a trail of ants between nest and food. No boss told any of the ants where to go, they just smelled the pheromones and their tiny little hard-wired brains triggered into "get the food" mode.
0.06 inch of rain at my house last night, with cracks of thunder and flashes of lightning lulling me to sleep. Humidity this morning over 50 percent at my house, and dew point at the weather service office above 50 degrees. It's a monsoon. We here in the desert have to take our rain very seriously.
My amazement expands. Yesterday, a discussion on #docs among folks having trouble with DocBook chunking. Today, upon awaking, I find DV has fixed this. Downloaded new libxml and libxslt from CVS, rebuilt 'em and presto! And some other bug that I hadn't even taken the time yet to understand was also fixed.

Nora's gone, so I'm taking the opportunity to get some work done on her computer. Spent far too long last night setting up a backup system. I don't remember how to do Windows - she's become the house expert now.
The Big Trip
Nora's off to California today for her big trip!

Her best friend Hallie moved there in the middle of the last school year, to San Clemente on the beach. Nora gets a week's vacation with her, then Hallie is coming back here for a bit on the return flight.

Disneyland, days at the pool, evenings at the beach, but most importantly time with a good friend. We like Hallie very much, and were all sad when she left.
DV is right. The GNOME lists have become hugely time-consuming right now. I can't bring myself to unsubscribe from anything, but I'm hitting the delete key an awful lot these days.

Lots of other good progress going on though. The docs style guide is getting quite close to its first public airing.

The areas of bugzilla.gnome.org I've been focusing on are about as cleaned up as I can get them. And some new folks showed up there working bugs overnight, so I'm quite pleased. I hope things are getting clean and orderly enough that the maintainers can actually make use of bugzilla to keep track of things in their packages, which is bugzilla's real purpose.

I've also gotten back to the gnome-db2html3 xslt stuff, which is fun but quite challenging for me. Learning new stuff.....
The living room is bereft of furniture, as Lissa sands the floor. The wood's original look is coming out, and it's going to be lovely. But the poor dog. She is a creature of habit, and that habit is laying on her puffy bed in the living room. Lissa put a sheet out over the sanded part so we wouldn't spill or tread on it, and Sadie lays on that, looking quite forlorn.
It is an obligation I take very seriously - my official declaration of the start of the monsoon. You'll note I hedged here - weather forecasting is intrisically imprecise. But we've got a nice high pressure center set up over the Four Corners, and massive thunderstorms blowing up every day over the Sierra Madre Occidental in northern Mexico. The dew point is rising, and everything looks right.
Our monsoons are my favorite weather season - towering afternoon thunderstorms, spectacular lightning shows, and a sort of lottery every day: will it rain here?

The typical monsoon onset is the first week of July, but we've got what seems to be a monsoon pattern setting up already, with moisture streaming into the state and thermals in place to loft it into the air. I got hammered by a spectacular thunderstorm Tuesday afternoon up in the mountains of southern New Mexico, so unexpected (by me at least - it's still June!) that I had left my raincoat in my hotel room. Later that afternoon day, Lissa called and took the phone out to the front porch of our house so I could hear the thunder: Albuquerque got rain too.

It was a good trip down south. I love driving the deserts of New Mexico, big expanses of creosote bush valleys framed by mountains left bare by the arid climate so you can see their bones.

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