Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Passing pumpkins

Freefalling with a pumpkin in your hands is bizarre. It makes it hard to fly and stay stable. I found a two handed approach worked best, but I bet I was backsliding a lot. My partner did swoop in and made contact, but we didn't complete the pass. I tried to hold it by the stem when opening my parachute but the poor gourd pulled right off the stem and flew away. That pumpkin is now a splatter in a cow pasture.

One the most entertaining days I have had at a dropzone in a long time. And only in Montana. Most big drop zones have too much air traffic or not enough space or regulations or whatever that prevent them from bombing pumpkins out of airplanes. In Montana we have just the right mix of small, out of the way and crazy creative people. I am almost disappointed that I will have to wait till next years pumpkin jumps for another opportunity to fumble with a big fruit in the sky or watch an aircraft swoop the field dumping pumpkins out the door.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Like a dance

She said:

I think it is not healthy to hold too tight to a relationship. Constantly clinging to each other. I think a relationship should be more like a dance. Sometimes you are holding close and tight and other times you are farther apart and sometimes you even have to let go and spin around and change directions before coming back together. It's like life and nature, always oscillating and changing and moving in waves. Relationships need to be like that. Moving and oscillating and changing. When you just cling to each other it can be stifling.

Friday, October 28, 2005

You know you are becoming smitten when...

  • You catch yourself daydreaming of her instead of working.
  • You can hear her voice during the imaginary conversations you have during your daydreams.
  • Your pulse quickens when the phone rings because maybe it's her.
  • You start liking her favorite foods.
  • You start stocking more fruits and veggies and less frozen meals so as to make a good impression should she ever look in your fridge.
  • More time is spent on dishes, laundry, housecleaning so you don't look like a total bachelor slob on the off chance she would visit unannounced.
  • More care is spent on brushing, flossing, dressing, grooming because even though you don't have plans today an opportunity might present itself.
  • You start calculating exactly how many hours to wait before you can call her again without sounding desperate and needy.
  • You schedule an appointment for an HIV test.
  • You start making checklists of questions and things to talk about so there are no awkward silences on your next date.
  • You spend time researching things to do in an effort to top the last date.
  • There is constant self denial about how much you are obsessing over the new girl.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I dropped the phone back on the cradle, punched hold and gently massaged my left ear. My shoulder was aching from propping the phone against my head, my finger hurt from the pressure of the pencil. It would be easy to complain about the people on the phone. Complain that work is starting up again. I won’t complain. Work is life. If I dig deep enough I can find satisfaction in the shoulder ache and the sore ear and the confused phone calls. The working portion of life’s tapestry is not always exciting but it is substantial.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Reading RSS

I drank some of the tech marketers coolaid the other week and gave RSS news readers a try. Particularly the new fangled google reader.

I have been reading the hype and these RSS aggregators are supposed to be all that for those of us who spend lots of time reading the web. After spending a goodly part of an evening finding and loading up a bunch of my favorite blogs and news sources into the thing I tried to make the habit of making my web rounds through the gizmo. I gave it a good try. Went there every day for almost a week. Hated it.

As for news, when all the pages are formatted the same I found I was loosing track of who I was reading. The source of a news article is a huge part of credibility these days and the gizmo removes the mastheads and styling and subtle clues about who I was reading. I couldn't intuitively associate the with the NYT or WSJ or Wash Post or some random blogger screed. It made the articles less valuable.

As for my favorite blogs, same thing. Sure the words were there but the personality was gone. No mastheads, no colorful pages, no comments links, no blogroll. Reading blogs in RSS was less like visiting someone's home and more like trying to catch a glimpse through their window. No joy.

So clicking through my bookmarks may take a little longer, may be disorganized, I may not be instantly up to speed on the latest posts. But there is more joy in it. It is more comfortable.

My experiment with RSS readers is over and I can do without them for now.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


You're welcome.

I smile because we are once again writing thank you's for the simple pleasure of sharing time. We so often pass out thank you's in our lives, to the grocery checker and the librarian and the strangers that hold a door open. The phrase feels almost quaint when trying to sum up the heart felt thankfulness of having enjoyed the sublime company of an attractive girl.

So thank you as well. Thank you for joining me for dinner. Thank you for the opportunities at getting to know you. And lest I forget, I very much want to thank you for an Email you wrote in July, saying hello at a time when I was absorbed in my work and there was very much a danger of my allowing you to drift away without taking the time to know you better.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005


With some awkwardness I slid across the small space separating us and draped my arm around her. She snuggled her face down into my chest and we sat quietly like that for a while.

"You really need a sofa." She said. "I don't want to give the wrong impression, but why don't you turn off the light and we should stretch out here more comfortably."

The deliciousness of a body in my arms again was soothing and energizing and captivating. Her face turned away from mine, her scented hair nestled against my nose. We spent another long while like this, drawing from each others warmth. When it's gone, it's the holding you miss most.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


I hope you don't mind my asking. It's just where my head is right now I guess.
It's okay, I don't mind. They are fun questions.
I don't always go on about sex and debauchery.
I'm actually very pleased to know you are into sex and debauchery.
I don't suppose you could say that a little louder? I don't think everyone heard it.
Oops, sorry.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Business meeting

The meeting started with smiles and handshakes and friendly how was your season banter. The brass tax came shortly. "We had some problems with your reservations last season and we need to make sure they don't happen again." They were enumerated, problem x, problem y, problem z. They made some initial reactions to the problems. K_ took the floor. "Here is what we need, what we are thinking, what we need is to limit the headcount. We want to hold your headcount at 8 people per night." But as per K_'s style she did not wait for a reaction at that point. She went on to explaining why's and wherefores and citing examples. They tried to speak from time to time, address a point, make a query. They were rarely allowed full sentences. K_ was not listening, she was talking. Her thoughts crashing together like waves bashing one idea against the other and ejecting them from her lips in random patterns. Little relationship between her sentences formed other than being rough hewn from the same block. And as an active mind will take a thought and spin it to view from this vantage and that, her speech came out with similar disconnected stabs at reason. Sometimes hopping from one point to another, sometimes contradicting herself, often sounding like babble.

Moments of clarity emerged from the turbulence. A few ideas were grasped. They tried to make some rebuttals. They tried to explain a few points. I wanted to listen to they now. I wanted the pleasure of watching they twist and spin and try to speak to the charges before them; but still K_ would not shut up and the incoherent flow of words continued. My frustration with the stream of babble grew and I finally had to step in. Grasping one of they's points and putting it out there as a seed for communication to grow from. A few thoughts and ideas were passed around but K_ would not let go and started another speech. And more babble came forth, more contradictions, more rambling chain of thought narration. "My god," I thought, "I need to stop this before she weaves the rope by which we hang ourselves."

I spoke up, interrupted, and took the floor. "So here is the problem as I see it." And checking off notes taken on my yellow legal scratch pad I listed off our complaints, whittling the roundabout tirade down to a few talking points. K_ took a breath as though to speak again so I spoke a little more quickly to not give her the chance and proceeded to illustrate a few talking points from they's side. "And so the problem is finding the compromise between your position and ours right?" There was nodding and murmurs of agreement.

I had done it. I had turned the conversation away from a ranting, rambling tirade toward a meaningful discussion. I held the floor more firmly, more members present were allowed to express thoughts. Compromise solutions were presented and I held them out and said, "Well, K_, what do you think of ***". She was shooting daggers at me. Compromise did not interest her. "Well, we could try that, be we also need * and * and *." It did not take long to come to agreement.

No one was entirely happy with the result. K_ was particularly upset with me. "Why did you do that? We were going to hold to a hard line and you gave them concessions." It slowly dawned on me. She was right. We had gone in there with the high ground of the discussion. They needed us more than we needed they. I gave up points in a battle of wills needlessly. I ended up conceding to the other side because my own business partner frustrates me with poor communication.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A day without pants

A day without pants is refreshing.

A day without pants is unusual.

A day without pants is comfortable like a cup of tea and a good book.

A day without pants is decadence. An exploration of a base lifestyle

A day without pants is like christmas morning, wearing your jammies for as long as possible even though the whole family and a few house guests are around and everyone is hugging and eating and playing, but you are still in your jammies.

A day without pants is like a vacation. A day where there are no obligations, no places to be, only personal indulgences.

A day without pants is without trips to the store, trips to the post box, or any money spending whatsoever.

A day without pants is a day without checking for wallet or keys in your pockets.

A day without pants is a little less laundry to do later.

A day without pants gets chilly in Montana.

A day without pants is a day where you don't have to deal with any other people.

A day without pants is a day spent indoors.

A day without pants is antisocial.

A day without pants is a day without seeing the sky because the blinds are closed so as not to annoy/titillate the neighbors.

A day without pants is a little stir crazy because you are not getting out.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Oatmeal for breakfast

Mmmm, oatmeal.
Yummy packets of instant goop.
It's healthy, it's wholesome, it's good for you.
Brown sugar, raisins, milk.
Some days I enjoy it more than others.

They say that oatmeal reduces cholesterol and is one of the best things for your heart. As true as that may be I do not fear a heart attack. There are so many ways to die that a heart attack scares me about as much as getting hit by a bus or accidental firearm discharge or freak encounter with avian flu. I'm not eating my oatmeal for my heart. I'm eating my oatmeal because cholesterol blocks all the arteries in your body. If you can't get enough blood to your dick you go impotent. I'm eating my oatmeal to protect my hard on.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Who loves you?

So we were wanting to know if you had any time to, you know, pick up some projects on the side.
Well, things have slowed down for sure, but I don't think I could take on any new projects right now. My business is still taking a lot of my attention and I am putting a lot of my time into a new database for my own company. I don't think I could do any outside work right now.
Well, okay. Just thought I would check. That system you built for us is doing really well, B% and G% are now onboard using it and we will be signing up some others soon. We are really happy with what you built and how it is working. We have M_ going through your code trying to build the expanded parts, but we thought it would be easier to get the person who wrote it in the first place.
Yeah, I understand, I have tried to read other peoples code before. It can get a little rough sometimes. If it looks like I will have more time over the winter or if I need a side project I will give you a call okay.
That would be great, we love the work you did for us.


So I want to move the websites to a new host to make this new system work.
That would be okay I guess.
Do you have any of the traffic stats for them so I can get enough bandwidth?
Well I can get the stats from &C, but I would have to call &S to get that one. You know we could point both domains to &S and combine the two sites.
Yeah, but I want to keep them separate. And I don't like &S for a host either, they make it too hard to get stuff you need like stats or Email addresses.
All you have to do is call them up.
Like I said, they make it too hard. A good web host will never talk to you. If you need something, like a new Email you should be able to just make it. You should never have to ask them for what is yours.
They have tons of storage and good php. They should be all we need.
Yeah, but what about the databases? And logfiles? And Email? I spent seven years doing this professionally, I'm good at this. I shouldn't have to call them and wait for them every time I make a move with my own domain. Not when there are hosting companies out there that will give me the tools to do what I do without getting in the way.
Well, I like 'em for other reasons.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Square One

So what have you been up to?
Just hanging out a lot. The first weeks after the season ended it was nice, but now I am just kicking around a little bored.
Well are you getting out and doing stuff?
I can't figure out what to do. I've been looking online and I can't find any listings for bands or shows or anything to do. Not that I have found anyway.
Know anyone who can show you around?
Well, no. I'm back at square one. It's how I felt right after moving here, a little lost. It's like the summer didn't count for anything. I was running so hard and was so crazy busy for those three or four months that I didn't do any settling in. And now I am back where I started, feeling like I am new in town and I don't know anyone or know anywhere to go or what to do.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Meaningful XHTML

I no longer work professionally as a web geek, but I dabble on the side and try to keep up. I have long been a fan of the style sheet and I thought tables for layout was a cludge from the first time I did it. As web code evolves, new and different ways of doing things appear. Sometimes these things are a step forward but sometimes they make life harder.

I am completely okay with the death of <font>. I like the idea of closing all single <tags />. But there are other things I am still coming to terms with. I am told from The Elements of Meaningful XHTML that there are certain HTML things I am doing wrong. Such as:

Avoid <b> <br/> <i> <sub> <sup>

I don't know about you, but <br /> is one of my most used tags. I started my web dev career in a design shop and the designers were always haranguing me about the layout of their text. It took a long time before these ink on paper people completely grasped the concept that the text could be different sizes and fonts on different screens. I was always fighting code, with designer right over my shoulder, trying to make text layout more attractive. It took me a long time to grasp the concept that attractive and well formatted text is a good thing and makes web pages better. To this day when I knock out web code there is always an imaginary designer lurking over my shoulder telling me the text is ugly. <br /> was my friend then and it is still a powerful tool today. It is simple, easy to code, produces exactly the result I want in every browser, it can be styled, backwards compatible, and now I am not supposed to use it in meaningful code. I am having a hard time finding any explanation of how I am supposed to modify my formatting to work without a <br /> tag.

That's not all that I am doing wrong. On this very blog I like to write conversations a lot. I usually use definition lists for the conversation like this:

  <dd>What do you want to do today?</dd>

  <dd>I dunno, what do you want to do?</dd>

It is a pretty simple way to get the layout I want with a minimum of tags and code. Technically I am not supposed to do this. DT is supposed to be a term and DD is supposed to be a definition.

The DL lists are a very useful tool for layout. I have seen them used for headlines and articles, speakers and quotes, names and addresses, times and events, and even definition lists. Pretty much anything that can be matched in a Key/Value pair. But most of these things are not meaningful XHTML.

Here is how a conversation is supposed to look:

    <blockquote>What do you want to do today?</blockquote>

    <blockquote>I dunno, what do you want to do?</blockquote>

See, it is still a list (ordered list) of spoken statements; each item in the list cites a speaker and quotes what they said. The code becomes more meaningful to the document. Apply a style sheet and it can render exactly like the definition list I use.

I know this is technically correct and valid XHTML and the way of the future and meaningful and all that crap, and I really hate it.

  • I hate it because it is a lot more tags and a lot more programming to do the same thing.
  • I hate it because the overseers of XHTML were thinking Term and Definition instead of Key and Value and took away a very useful set of tags.
  • I hate it because it stinks like programmer snobbery.
  • I hate it because HTML was supposed to be the great liberator of human expression. So simple that anyone could do it and even if it was done wrong it would degrade gracefully and still render on screen.
  • I hate it because it makes it harder to teach to the unwashed masses that wish to communicate through web pages.
  • I hate it because now there is a right way and a wrong way to write a web page. The standard of 'does it work' is depreciated.

Someday I hope there will be created some XHTML tags for key/value pairs so I can get back on the 'correct code' bandwagon, but in the meantime here is what I intend to do about it. First, I am going to stop feeling inferior when I use a 'transitional' doctype. Slightly mungy code is what 'transitional' is for right? I'll save the pure XHTML for when it is really needed. Next I am going to keep right on using DT and DL for my conversations but I will start them this way:

<dl class="conversation">

Now anyone reading the code will know that this is a special sort of definition list. And if they read the style sheets and enough of the document they will realize it is not a definition list at all, but actually a key/value list in the form of a conversation. In other words it will still be meaningful. To human beings at least. Not meaningfully correct XHTML, but the validator wont know the contents of the list is actually a conversation so it will pass.

I will try to grow like a good little webgeek. I will try avoiding my beloved <br />, I will make a habit of <strong> instead of <b>, use <em> instead of <i>, use my classes to clarify wanky code and I will hope that one day web code will be simplified enough to wear down the layers of bureaucracy between the common Joe and the wild wild web of communication.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Something New

Well it took close to two weeks of shopping. There were about a dozen car lots visited. Over 40 vehicles were inspected. Countless internet searches and reviews. About six test drives, three visits to the banker, and one excruciating afternoon haggling the trade in value of the old Honda (In Montana it ain't worth squat.) I am finally driving a new ride.

The new (used) vehicle is...
<Trumpets sounding ta-daa>
A Subaru Legacy Outback. (Wintergreen color)

Formerly owned by a rental car company that I am assured only rents to little ol' ladies for Sunday drives, this vehicle should match my newfound Montana lifestyle. I am looking forward to loosing it in parking lots next to all the other Subaru's out there. Most importantly, it has a better chance of making it up moms driveway in the snow than the old Honda ever did.

I'd love to drive it over and show it off but with the price of gas these days I intend to use it mostly as a lawn ornament. ;)

See ya on the highways.