Monthly Archives: December 2007

More Lessons, More Carols

This morning we took Jeanne and Gail (and Laura and Nate and Si) to Princeton’s University Chapel for Trinity Church’s Christmas Lessons and Carols (we had Advent Lessons and Carols a few weeks ago). I was assigned seat-saving duty, so I arrived two hours early and stretched my personal effects out over seven seats. Then I wandered around the chapel taking pictures for my collection of illustrations of biblical/church-historical figures.

Princeton University Chapel: Melchisedek, Job

The University Chapel has an impressive collection of stained-glass images, from Pythagoras to Jonathan Edwards. If only I could get a better line of sight on them, with a steadier camera!
Of course, Pippa sang with the choir, dressed in her new black dress from Christmas time. She was not only lovely, but melodious, attentive, and harmonious too.

Pippa In Her New Dress


OK, I think my understanding of what’s going on with my runaway osascript process has focused to a leading candidate: namely, a malformed or bugged cron job. Today’s question is, “Where do I look for the system crontab and for any user crontab that some application or installation might have constructed?”

Today’s Get-Together

We drove up to Greenwich this afternoon to visit my sister Holly and James, and my father and Susan. We took a complicated route over to Route 1, then from the GW Bridge to Greenwich, but it all worked out, both ways. We had a great time — Nate’s Laura learned a lot about my family history — even we picked up some new angles — we had a wonderful lunch, and trundled back home.

Family Get-Together

Tomorrow, Jeanne and Gail roll down from Maine, and we all head over to the Sully-Rohrer household for dinner.

Full Day

We had a visit with the Winter-Thurman family for which we cleaned up and made brunch, then some of us trekked into Princeton to resolve the Case of the Elusive Rutabaga (resolved), then back for dinner, and by this time in the evening we’re pretty exhausted.
Regarding rutabagas: It turns out that the hot gift item this fall was the USB turntable — a fact that I did not suitably appreciate, especially when I saw stacks of boxes of them in en electronics store a week or so before Christmas. Since we weren’t going to celebrate till the 26th, I figured I could pick up a turntable for Si on the morning of the 26th, at post-Christmas sale prices, and not have the box lying around the house for a week. Wrong! When I went through town yesterday morning, Pippa and I stopped in five electronics stores, none of which had any USB turntables left in stock. I finally tracked down a USB rutabaga this afternoon, and Si is happily listening to records on it. I, in turn, am awash with nostalgic reveries about the extent to which LPs and turntables defined a phase of my life. Now I wish I had stored those mountains of vinyl somewhere, instead of selling off Si’s birthright for a mess of pottage.

The Second Day

PIppa and I will soon leave to pick up Nate and Laura in Philadelphia, stopping en route to buy a rutabaga. After the travelers catch their breath, we’ll open the gifts that we ignored yesterday, and have our choir director over for dinner.
Briefly noted, then:
¶ A while ago, in the sad aftermath of Anita’s and Marc’s deaths, Dave Winer noted that bloggers risk disappearing from the Web once they’re no longer around to pay their hosting bills. Subsequently Tim Bray has weighed in with his very cogent thoughts on the topic. For the record, and since Dave is very exercised about keeping track of the historical record with regard to “firsts,” I blogged about this problem way back in 2003 — as Joi and David noted at the time. It even turned out to be the hook for my TV interview on France 2. So although I didn’t invent the Internet or blogging, my concern about archive death predates Dave’s.
¶ I don’t remember the chain of links that led to it, but yesterday I discovered The Head Lemur’s “new Greek” page of meaningless boilerplate prose to fill up a given text frame. He’s the guy behind pixelview.
¶ I frequently look for song lyrics online, a practice beset by dire danger of running into pop-up, pop-down, pop-behind, polypop, spam-infested traps. The safest site (I think) that I’ve run into is Song Meanings, which adds the debatable value of site members appending their interpretations to lyrics.
¶ Thanks to the remarkable Stephen Downes, I’ve been impressed by links to an open-source flight simulator, a concise demystification of how people learn online, and Stephen’s own thorough account of how creators benefit from freely-distributed work.
¶ I haven’t figured out how best to use it yet, but the Vatican’s Bibliaclerus site looks promising.
¶ I haven’t been really knocked out by the music releases of 2007; I’ll post a longer entry about the year in music eventually, but as I accumulate more and more digital recordings, I spend less and less time to listening to brand-new releases. For a similar reason, I hardly ever listen to “albums.” Off the top of my head (where hair used to grow), though, I can affirm my positive response to Springsteen’s Magic and to Lyle Lovett’s It’s Not Big It’s Large.

History Always Repeats

I admired Leah Price’s column in yesterday’s NYT Book Review; I tend to sympathize strongly with the retrospective historians’-eye view that the present generally thinks of itself as exciting and unique and unprecedented and ominous in ways that doesn’t square with careful attention to our ancestors’ experience. Price reminds hand-wringing doomsayers that “until radio and television dethroned the book, social reformers worried about too much reading, not too little.”

As Price points out, the internet has made readers of people who were significantly less likely to pick up a tome off the Nonfiction Bestsellers List. There’s a difference between reading online and reading books, but that difference can’t accurately be characterized as a decline in reading per se. If there’s a problem with what we read online, we need to address it by acknowledging first that we are online reading.

This exemplifies yet another dimension of my tedious refrain: We’re participating in (or “futilely resisting”) a cultural transition in response to digital technology. We can panic and shout, we can ignore it and hope it goes away, but the most productive course entails participating critically — so that we know what we’re pontificating about, and can make pertinent, useful suggestions about how things might be better.

Plus One

Josiah’s home from college, looking well and strong and tall. He and Pippa and I spent yesterday afternoon braving the wilds of Princeton-area shopping locations, looking to fill the holes in our gift-giving inside straights. We work well together, had a good time, and covered most of what we needed to.
We’re expecting Nate and Laura on the day after Christmas, and Jennifer will come home who-knows-when, but this townhouse that seems quite spacious when it’s just Margaret and Pippa and me will soon be brimful of family (and eventually we’re taking the show on the road to visit Holly and my Dad and Susan in a rented van).
As Maxwell Smart used to say, “And loving it!”


The days are getting longer! At last!
Meanwhile, David’s description of the return of Open Source Radio gets it just right — “more naturally than ever, in Web-only form.” It hadn’t clicked with me before, but after Chris started his interview series as podcasts, something seemed off-kilter about his moving the show to radio.
There was something else I meant to link to. When I remember what, I’ll delete this paragraph.
That’s what it was! Jon Armstrong’s very clear, extensive description of what it’s like to live with a someone who has serious chronic depression. Add that to Heather’s own perspective, posted a couple of weeks ago, and you get a moving sense of what this life entails. My own experience differs from Jon’s — every depression is different, every spouse is different, every relationship is different — but these two essays convey a vivid picture of what your experience might be somewhat different from. For a variety of reasons, I’ve become a contact for people who need a crash course in depression and its ramifications; these are now highly recommended reading for that course. (I don’t require anything of anyone who’s coming to grips with this particular beast.)

Anyone? Bueller?

I’ve been watching my CPU load closely for the past week or so, and have noticed that some mysterious process occasionally takes over my processor and claims more than half of my capacity, and won’t let go. It involves AppleScript; the process is osascript, and it doesn’t make clear what launched it or what would complete it. Emory speculates that it’s a Folder Action, though I can’t think of a likely candidate (I haven’t set up any Folder Actions of my own, so it would be either an Apple-issued script or something that an application has installed. Any nominations would be welcome; in the meantime, I just watch out for it and kill it when it starts hogging memory.


I posted the separate videos of the Desperate Measures concert about two weeks ago, and it’s interesting to see how YouTube viewers have responded to them.
For instance, I gave “I Can See Clearly Now” a head start by posting it above the fold on my first presentation of concert videos, and it’s stayed near the top of the “most viewed” for most of the interval since then. But recently “Save Tonight” passed it for the lead in the “most viewed Desperate Measures video” derby (interestingly, two harsh critics among the viewers have assigned it a two-star rating). After “I Can See Clearly” in second place, there’s a sharp decline in viewing; “Zombie Jamboree” has half as many viewers as its heavier-hitting neighbors. “King of Spain” and “Torn” follow closely, with high ratings as well. Only about fifty viewers have watched “Brick” and “In The End,” but they liked them a lot (five stars).
I don’t have a far-reaching conclusion about all this, except perhaps that Eagle Eye Cherry fans are (a) curious about cover versions and (b) not wild about a capella arrangements.