Older blog entries for rachel (starting at number 35)

20 Dec 2000 (updated 20 Dec 2000 at 02:39 UTC) »

She had the most beautiful hair I'd ever seen. It was the color of Tutankhamon's gold mask, the color of Mesopotamian grave goods. We'd meet before our Archaeology lecture and sit under the jacaranda in the main quad at Sydney Uni and talk and argue until we cracked each other up.

She rolled her eyes at the way I dressed, and took me shopping in the little boutiques on Oxford Street. We'd get together for coffee in the Strand. She insisted I had to start drinking espresso, and introduced me to European films. We went to the Dendy and the Valhalla and the old Encore. She had flawless taste and a wicked temper.

She drove like a maniac. Driving to Uni one morning, soaring over Darling Harbour, she played Kirsty MacColl's Kite on the stereo as loud as it would go. I borrowed the album and listened to it until I knew every word of every song. She wouldn't let me keep it, and I never managed to find a copy of my own.

She crashed and burned. We lost touch. I don't know where she is.

Kirsty MacColl died this morning. She was only 41.


"Thank you for the days/ Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me/ I'm thinking of the days/ I won't forget a single day believe me "

Andrew - I'm glad you're enjoying Sydney. If you get a chance, will you go and have a bowl of cafe au lait at Petit Creme on Darlinghurst Road for me? Weekday mornings are best; it's packed to the rafters on weekends.

Incidentally, in Australia, we have preferential voting. That means you can protest-vote for a third party, then when they are eliminated, your preferences still get counted for the major party of your choice. It's a very democratic system, and it works beautifully.

I'm just sayin'.

Otherwise, more of the same. Brian Behlendorf is the celebrity guest on Burning Issues next week. Which inspires me to song!

What would Brian Behlendorf do
if he were on my show?
He'd raise his voice in praise of GNU!
That's what Brian Behlendorf'd do!

November is turning into the international month of the Scottish socialist science fiction author. I absolutely loved Iain Banks' The Bridge (although what is it with this community-living-on-a-bridge meme, huh? Turned up in William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties, too) and right now I'm devouring everything of Grant Morrison's I can lay my hands on. Then today, news comes to me of Ken MacLeod, who sounds like the perfect antidote for those Please-please-Vernor-Vinge-finish-your-new-novel blues. And did I mention Alasdair Gray?

Comic books are educational. I was walking over to Al's Comics at 17th and Guerrero the other day when I found a signpost marking the shore of the vanished Lake of the Sorrows.

Gnrao! Andrew, your picture of Meebles lying in the sun made me gnash my teeth in homesickness. I miss Sydney terribly, although I know if I moved back there, I'd miss San Francisco more.

The good news is, it looks like I'll be going to linux.conf.au. As my friend Rose used to say: Solid result.

Does Iain Banks totally rock, or what?

Another completely brilliant weekend, in spite of the rain. We went to the open studios at Headless Point, where I met Michael Christian and Dan Das Mann, two of my favorite Burning Man artists. Michael built the Nebulous Entity in 1998 and the Bone Tree in 99. Dan did the Faces of the Man, one of this year's most beautiful pieces. I bought a little steel sculpture from Michael: it's an apartment building, filled with people laughing. Flames are coming out of the roof, but the building is not consumed. Reminds me of our house.

Headless Point is absolutely great. It's out on the edge of the Hunter's Point naval shipyards, a windswept and profoundly toxic section of the Bay. Rusting ships loom through the fog, and there are big salty marsh flats on all sides. You can see where Michael and Dan get their earth-tones, their industrial greys and greens, and their wonderfully biomorphic technology.

Seth - I think you nailed the central problem of social engineering. How do you get people to work for mutual benefit without resorting to force? Burning Man and the open source community tackle this problem in various interesting ways. Larry Harvey makes a conscious effort to create myths and taboos that encourage socially beneficial behavior. Linus seems to take the other tack: he molds the kernel to suit his own tastes and needs, and is pretty good at ignoring efforts to guilt-trip him into serving other peoples' ends. If they were Zen masters, Larry would be the one with the infinitely regressing koans, and Linus would be the one with the stick.

A lot of the arguments going on in both places at the moment focus on questions of scale. Old-time BMers resent the fact that the event has grown from a few hundred to 25,000 people. A small but vocal group of Linux kernel hackers furiously resents Linus's ad hoc patch management process. Me, I love Larry's principle of radical inclusiveness, and Linus's avowed desire for world domination. As far as I'm concered, the bigger these experiments in community, the more non-coercive environments they generate, and the more social contexts that value intellectual play over confrontation and point-scoring that I get to hang out in, the better.

I suspect my whole political outlook is based on the desire to create safe havens for kids who were beaten up in school. No wonder I live in San Francisco.

I really love this description of Iain Banks's post-Marxist utopia.

I had a very Advogato morning. Don Marti and Bruce Perens were guests on Burning Issues, a TV show I sometimes host. We threw around some nicely virulent memes, which will be streamed onto Oracle's intranet. I can just see the database engineering team rising up as one to overthrow their executive oppressors. Vive la GPL.

It's raining, in San Francisco, a phenomenon that shocks and horrifies me this time every year. It never rains in California. This was made clear to me before I came. Apparently, I was misinformed.

Oh well, it's a good excuse to splurge on a huge lunch at the divine Slanted Door. Imperial rolls, chicken clay pot and Hong Kong milk tea. I'm happy.

I wish there were an Advogato for horse geeks. Of course, there's nothing to stop me setting one up, except that I'd rather be down at the barn.

Back to the ER, into hospital for two nights. Out now, infection under control. Kids! Don't try this at home!

16 Oct 2000 (updated 16 Oct 2000 at 18:52 UTC) »

GAR! Sometimes I do amazingly dumb things.

Take yesterday, for example. We were walking to Atlas Cafe to have lunch when we met a cat. It was obviously someone's loved pet, obviously lost, hungry, filthy and sick. We gave it some food, and Jeremy called Animal Care and Control, who told us to catch it and bring it in.

Aargh. I had the poor thing in my hands, and it was so frail I didn't think it had any fight left in it. Wrong. It panicked, bit me and fled.

Cat bites are bad. 80% get infected. Cat teeth are like sharp, toxic little syringes perfectly designed for getting infectious agents deep beneath the skin. I once worked for a vet so I knew enough to go straight to the ER at SF General - a story in itself. They gave me a tetanus injection and a prescription for 875mg of Augmentin. I'm sure you can imagine what that kind of antibiotic load does to your gastric microflora.

So, I feel awful. My right hand is hot, pink and spherical. And someone's lovely long-haired black cat is still lost, sick and hungry, but now also very scared.

Gar gar gar.

If anyone knows anyone who lost such a cat near the corner of Alabama and 22nd in San Francisco, mail me at rachel at goop dot org.


I spent yesterday afternoon trying to get a freelance article finished, but it was Fleet Week here in San Francisco, so I kept abandoning the iMac and hanging out the window to goggle at the Blue Angels. Jeremy, who is the work ethic I never had, kept hauling me back in. He and the cat were deeply annoyed about Fleet Week, arguing that it's a cynical exercise in public relations for the military-industrial-entertainment-complex. Me, I'm a total sucker for fighter jets.

It was a very my-God-I-love-California kind of weekend. I drove up to Napa on Saturday and lolled around at the Calistoga Spa (see what I mean about my work ethic?) Highway 29 is glorious this time of year, all golden poplars and hot blue skies and windmills slowly turning. Then on Sunday after brunch we went to the open studios at Project Artaud, just up the road from where we live. Some of the lofts were completely awesome, with mosaics on the floor and beautifully hand-built mezzanine affairs. The art varied enormously, but the best of it - an incredible photograph of four little girls in Rome, some giant portraits and some exquisite small prints - was fantastic.

Makes me realize how important artists are to my neighborhood, and how much I'd hate it if they had to leave. When I get stinkin' rich, I'd like to endow another art-space like Artaud. Only with jets.

Hair - still blue-ish, but fading fast

Lungs - how much Playa can one woman cough up?

Work - "So, Larry, what else have you got up your sleeve?" "Who, me? Nothin'."

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