Gratitude – 03/26/2008

March 26, 2008

I am grateful for:

1. Wikipedia.  Like Brad W at The Lamppost, I find it a great place to start research — though I must confess that, in many cases, I end my research there as well.  This is because I’m usually not looking for authoritative answers; just information for my own interest’s sake.  I find myself going there most often to find out what happened to a particular person or specific band, or to understand a particular phrase or concept.  Wikipedia covers an incredibly broad array of topics, and in my mind is a great place to start growing your brain.

Dollar Bill2. My cost-conscious wife.  She’s the counterbalance to my freewheeling fiscal ways, and my financial state is much the better for it.  Even if it does occasionally drive me nuts that she cross-examines me regarding any purchase I make that’s larger than thirty-five cents.

3.Compromise.  We’ve finally reached an agreement where we each get a fixed sum each month that we may fritter away as we please, no questions asked.  Of course, while I’m frittering mine away, she’ll probably be saving and investing hers, which means in about 30 years she’ll own much of the Eastern seaboard and I… well, I’ll be along for the ride, so I think I’m cool with that.

 Image by PPDIGITAL

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Gratitude – 03/23/2008

March 23, 2008

It’s a lazy Sunday morning, and today I am grateful for these things:

  1. Lazy Sunday Mornings.  We had pancakes, with strawberries and blueberries, for breakfast, and are now lounging about whilst I putter around my blog.  I had considered making strawberries and blueberries separate items for which to be thankful, but I’ll keep them grouped in with Lazy Sunday Mornings today.
    1. As a sub-bullet: I’m also grateful for the Lazy Sunday Book, by Bill Watterson.  In my mind, the finest cartoonist ever to put pen to paper.
  2. Lorelle’s WordPress blog.  I think it’s very fitting that the current post on her blog is about bloggers helping bloggers, and the willingness of total strangers to help each other.  This willingness of bloggers to help out has been a lifesaver for me as I work to get my own blog up and running.
  3. Meringue.  Meringue is a fundamental aspect of a great number of very tasty desserts.

Why my blog now has pictures

March 23, 2008

Cafe GratitudeBasically, it’s thanks to Lorelle.  Those of you who read my earlier post will know that I have been experiencing tremendous frustration in trying to get images to post properly.  For some reason, I could load an image and send it to the editor, but as soon as I used the WordPress.com image editor to set the alignment to “left”, the image would disappear.

After some highly technical sleuthing, which basically involved loading a post and image to my blog with Windows Live Writer, then comparing the code between the two, I found that whenever WordPress aligned the image, it also set its length and width to zero.  This effectively made it disappear, and caused me no end of confusion and aggravation.

So now, based on Lorelle’s comments, after loading an image I am just adding an [align = “left”] tag between “img” and “src” in my code.  For now, at least, it seems to be doing the trick.  This is the first picture I’ve been able to load to my blog through the WordPress interface.

A huge thanks to Lorelle on this.

Update: In my previous post, I mentioned getting images from Flickr to use in my blog.  Flickr uses the Creative Commons license, and there’s a great post by Skelliewag that explains what the different licenses mean and how to use images legally and properly.

Picture by Shayan.


Is humanity the first cloud computer?

March 22, 2008

532216058_de1702b345_mWe know an awful lot, we humans.  We’ve learned a great deal about our universe at the macroscopic scale, and about our planet at the microscopic scale.

Yet, as an individual human, I know very little.  I could not successfully repair a major issue with the car I drive, much less build a new one.  I could not set my leg if I broke it.  Unlike Captain Kirk, I couldn’t even create gunpowder without doing some serious research first.  And don’t get me started on the technology required to gather the raw materials necessary for most everything I use.

Personally, I grew up on a farm, so I like to think that if push came to shove I could hold my own at growing a garden and raising the odd chicken or edible rodent.  But I daresay there’s many a person out there who would not be as optimistic if they were left to their own devices to provide food.

The thing is, I don’t need to know any of this stuff.  So long as humanity continues to function the way it has, I can be safe in my ignorance, provided I am surrounded by people who are specialists in their given fields.  I take my car to a mechanic; I go see a doctor when I am sick; I purchase food from a grocery store, which in turn purchases it from a host of middlemen, who purchase it from farmers.

Humanity has developed a staggering wealth of knowledge.  It’s far too much for a person to absorb or remember, and so we’ve parceled this knowledge out to different people.  As the knowledge grows deeper, the parcels become narrower.  First, we had doctors, who developed specialized knowledge about the human body, medicines, and healing.  As knowledge increased, we began to have doctors who focused on surgery or dentistry or psychiatry.  Now, we have medical specialists who are devoted to healing our skin, our hearts, our ears-nose-and-throats, our eyes, our teeth, our minds.

The same pattern can be seen in virtually every profession.  Drop a cash-crop farmer into a dairy operation and watch the confusion.  Tell a programmer who’s used to using SQL and PHP that they need to start writing code with AJAX.  Go to your optometrist and begin describing your stomach pain.

We manage to keep this knowledge afloat, and growing, by keeping it in the cloud.  Specific elements of it are held by different people, who grow that knowledge (and ignore virtually all other knowledge) and pass it on to their successors, who in turn dive deeper into specific areas and grow the knowledge there.

In effect, the growth of knowledge demands a growth in population to maintain it.

Which raises two very serious questions.

What happens if we suddenly lose a group of experts?  What if a new generation of farmers, tired of hard work and poor pay, just decide to pack it in and pursue other careers?

And what happens when we reach a point, either through choice or through necessity, where we are no longer increasing the global population?  Where will our expertise reside?

Photo by puroticorico.


Why my blog doesn’t have pictures

March 22, 2008

Quite frankly, it’s because I can’t get them to work.

Every attempt follows pretty much the same pattern.  I go to Flickr, find a photo I like that’s under the Attribution License, and download it.  Then I fire up a new subject, upload the image, and copy it to my post.  The picture shows up, happily, in the upper right corner of the post.

That’s when everything heads south.  For some reason, as soon as I try to wrap text around it, the image just disappears.  The HTML tags around it don’t, but the image itself pulls a Batman and vanishes.  No amount of clicking, editing, raving, or swearing will bring it back.

I begin Googling.  The first time I went through this exercise, I was pretty confident I’d have a solution in a few clicks.  Not so.  I’ve been to Lorelle’s excellent and informative post on adding images to a blog, and to a host of other sites that mention, however briefly, the challenges of having an image appear on your post.  But I’ve yet to find a mention of this particular issue.

It should be noted that I am using WordPress.com, rather than WordPress.org, which means I don’t have access to many of the funky features and plugins that are otherwise available.

Frustration mounting, I begin threatening my computer, WordPress, and the internet in general with dire consequences if this image does not properly appear.  I plead.  I bargain.  I promise gold and a universe full of fame.  It has no effect.

And so, with a mightly flourish of whispered profanity, I strip out the image and publish the bland, black-and-white text to my blog.  I vow that this time — really, this time — I am not even going to bother trying to include images in my blog anymore.

I keep this vow for a week or even two.  Then the superior graphic nature of the blogs about me begins to weigh on my mind, and I find myself once again drawn to try, just once more, to get a simple bloody image to work.

As you can see, I have still experienced no success.

Update: About 2 minutes after I posted this, Lorelle shed some light on the issue, as reflected in my next post.


Gratitude – 03/22/2008

March 22, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

  1. Any colour that is not pastel.  Honestly, why are people still making pastel clothes?  We tried this in the ’80s.  It didn’t work out.  Let’s move on.
  2. Backgammon.  Having my wife repeatedly hand my ass to me is teaching me good sportsmanship and patience.  And that I hate the game.
  3. Grandparents.  Grandparents tell the best stories.  More on that later.

Edit: I don’t hate backgammon.  I just hate losing.  Constantly.  Like, every time.


Gratitude – 03/21/2008

March 21, 2008

Today’s list of things for which I am grateful:

  1. I’m grateful that I’m free.  My wife and I have been reading Grisham’s “The Innocent Man“, and while I’m not a huge Grisham fan and certainly do not feel this is is best-written book, it’s nonetheless important in reminding us of the failings of the legal system.  It’s chilling to think that injustices such as this can still occur.
  2. I’m grateful for swimming pools.  Quietly paddling back and forth, or noisily playing a game of pseudo-volleyball (where the intent is not to score points but to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible) is very therapeutic.
  3. I’m grateful for time off.  Sometimes, just being able to get away from work for a little bit is all you really need.