Off to Washington tomorrow

I'm off to Washington DC tomorrow at the crack of dawn (actually earlier) for O'Reilly's Peer-to-Peer and Web Services Conference where I'll be giving a presentation ("Weblogs as Peer-to-Peer Journalism") and speaking on a panel ("Collaborative Writing"). I'm looking forward to it, though I'm a bit nervous about the presentation part. Hopefully it will all go smoothly and hopefully my wireless net card will work. If those two things happen, I'll be a happy camper. Assuming I don't get all 'thraxed up in DC.

Fun with a new haircut

After trying to grow my hair out for approximately ten months, I threw in the towel this morning and got it cut short again. I guess you could say I'm a quitter. Or maybe you could say I'm not-quitter, and that I quit on my short hair and have now not-quit by returning to it. Yes, you could say that.

Anyway it's back to short, but not blonde, and not so short as it was when it was all spikey. See for yourself with these silly animated before and after pictures below. You can also see how different (and better) it looks when I don't slouch. (I tend to slouch a lot, but I'm working on not doing it anymore.)

Before and after animated, fast (69k)
Before and after animated, slow (69k)
Before and after animated, tweened (171k)

The D-backs as America's Team

Can you believe those fucking Yankees? ARGH! At a Halloween party the other night I was talking with some folks about our objection to the label, "America's Team" being applied to the Yankees. If anything, it should be applied to the Diamondbacks because what's more American than making something of yourself out of nothing? In three years the Diamondbacks have gone from being a brand new expansion team to making it to the World Series. Now that's America for you.

Megnut poll results

Wow. 82% of the people who answered the poll below have been reading megnut for more than six months, and 57% have been reading for more than a year. I had no idea! That's very cool, though it does mean that I'm not attracting many new readers. Perhaps some sort of new readership campaign is in order? I'll call it "Read megnut 2002" First I'll define the market segments I hope to attract, then I'll devise an exciting ad campaign to drive them here. And then, um, then I'll just do what I always do: write about random things that occur to me as I waste a lot of time online.

No make-up talent at megnut

If you were the type of child that liked doing make-overs (do the words Barbie Glamour Head ring any bells?) and if you didn't grow up to be a make-up artist, you may get a kick out of this Online Makeover Doohickey (I'm at a loss for what to call it, my vocabulary fails me today). You can apply all sorts of eyeshadow colors and lipsticks. By doing so, I was reminded once again of my lack of talent in regards to all things make-up.

A megnut reader poll

The other night I was thinking about running a poll asking whether I should cut my hair, and I was remembering when I ran a poll asking what color I should dye my hair. It occurred to me that many current readers may not have been megnut readers when I did that. And that got me curious, so I'm wondering now:

How long have you been reading megnut?
less than 2 months
three to six months
between six months and a year
more than a year
more than two years

You can view current results here. And thanks for your participation. I'm not sure what I'll do with the feedback, but I appreciate your taking the time to respond.

Happy November

Happy November! Did you have a safe and fun Halloween? I did, and my cookies turned out well but alas the photos of them did not. You'll just have to use your imagination.

Happy Halloween

flappy halloween!Happy Halloween! I've just baked some mini-pumpkin cookies to take to a party this evening. Once they've cooled I'm going to frost them, hopefully with more skill than the last batch of sugar cookies I made (penguins that were tasty but ugly as sin.)

I've been thinking about Halloween costumes today, trying to recall my favorite from childhood, but nothing special comes to mind except the sushi costumes some friends and I wore to a party two years ago. We were supposed to be different types of maki (except our friend Kip who was tamago, he wore a white t-shirt, spray painted a giant piece of foam yellow, placed it on his back and cinched a black trashbag around his waist to imitate the seaweed, it was something!), but it didn't quite work as I'd planned. Still, I think it's my favorite costume, and certainly my favorite costume attempt. Perhaps next year I'll try it again. This year I'm recycling a different old costume: my spider hat that I made in 1997. I'll try to post a picture this afternoon.

Whole-wheat rigatoni with butternut squash and beet greens


1 16 oz. package whole-wheat rigatoni or penne or some pasta
2 T. unsalted butter
1 onion, cut into slivers
1 1 1/2 to 2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
5 or 6 shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
handful of white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick†
1/4 c. dry sherry
3 c. homemade stock‡
3 oz. beet greens, from one bunch of beets (or Swiss chard), tough stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 t. coarse salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled#

On peer-to-peer journalism

Oops, not sure how so much time passed between updates, guess I've been busy with other things, like going to Berkeley for my "Journalism's New Life Forms" panel on Saturday. Rusty's got a great write-up over at Kuro5hin which you should check out. The panel was fun and interesting, but too short. Only an hour! Rusty and I could have talked for three hours at least about that stuff, but it was better than nothing.

I've got a lot of thoughts about how panels should work, now that I've participated in quite a few, and I was pleased that this one went off fairly well. I'll try to summarize in the next day or so.

Meanwhile, on the peer-to-peer/amateur journalism vibe: Matt Haughey's observed an increase in traffic accidents at the intersection near his house. This is the start of an interesting, and potentially important, local news story. With a little research, this could turn into a "real" article. Now either Matt could take it to the next level by making some phone calls and digging up some stats about accidents at the Masonic/Fell intersection, or a local reporter (who reads weblogs to keep up on what's happening, to get a sense of what's afoot in his/her community) could pick this up. A phone call to Matt, a few more well-placed calls, and this could (and should) be in the Chronicle. Why has the City apparently abandoned the street light upgrade? Has there really been an increase in accidents? Is the traffic signal less visible than it used to be? Is the City at fault? Are they potentially liable? If you take a look at the pictures Matt posted, you'll see this is a pretty serious issue. One car ended up on its side after the most recent crash.

This is a great example of how peer-to-peer journalism can work. Matt's observed something and he's alerting people to it, and alerting a wider audience than he would if he just made a phone call to City Hall. With more people having knowledge of the issue, the problem is more likely to be addressed. It's a lot harder for someone to sweep this under the rug. (I just love the political implications of P2PJ, don't you?) It's also a great example of how traditional journalists can use weblogs for research and story ideas. I think I'm going to use this as an example during my talk next week in DC (at the O'Reilly conference).

A delicious new recipe

I've added a new recipe to "cooking": Whole-Wheat Rigatoni with Butternut Squash and Beet Greens. Yum yum yum!

The German esszet

So that strange ß is called an "esszet" in German, and apparently there's much more too it than I realized. First of all, you can't just go willy-nilly substituting it for any old "ss" you find. It is only appropriate after a long vowel, after a short vowel you just use "ss". For a more detailed explanation, check out this use of esszet in German page. Apparently there was a spelling reform in Germany that attempted to do away with the esszet in 1998 but it hasn't met with much success. And did you know Swiss Germans don't use the esszet? (Hence the reform, to get everyone spelling the same.) More info here.

Where did these crazy characters come from anyway? Origin of the umlaut and eszett. [Note: everywhere I look, people are spelling esszet differently.] I like all the accents and funny characters, I wish English used them. That was one of my favorite things when I started learning foreign languages back in 5th grade: getting to use accents, and upside-down exclamation points. ¡Olé!

Several people kindly wrote in listing other words which contained "ss". One was even so thoughtful to remind me that "ass" has two. I'm certain it wasn't directed at me personally. Thank you dear readers. Thank you.

Speaking on Saturday at Berkeley

On Saturday I'll be speaking on a panel entitled, "Journalism's new life forms" at the Online News Association's Annual Conference in Berkeley. We've assembled a list of resources and links to share with our audience, if you think there's something missing that should be there, please let me know. Note: this isn't a comprehensive listing, just an overview.

The jack-hammer shake

They are jack-hammering so close to my house right now my desk is shaking! I think I'm going to have to spend most of the day outside, far away from here.

Jet lag comeback

Jet lag: 3
Meg nut: 1

Woo hoo! You're going down now, Jet lag!

A new pizza experiment

I concocted a new pizza last night but the recipe isn't quite ready for distribution yet. The carmalized onion topping was a little too sweet. I don't think the cooking section is going to see as many updates as I'd anticipated.

Fun with German

One of the funnest things about Berlin was trying to speak German. German is cool, especially because instead of writing two s's they write one ß (what's this thing called?). So you'll see things like straße rather than strasse (which means street). From now on here at megnut, I may employ the "B" s. Except that there's not as much opportunity to use it in English, since we don't have as many back-to-back s's. Heck. I can't even think of one right now that doesn't include an apostrophe. Oh! Accessible. From now on, I shall write it acceßible. Ja. Gut.

I need to get a wireless PC card for my laptop. Any recommendations? Horror stories and must-avoids out there? I'm looking for something under $100. As far under as possible. Thanks in advance.

Oh! Embarraßing is another.

Megnut for hire

I've added a "Working" section to the right indicating my current freelance status. (Don't hesitate, act now! I'm available!) And I've also plumped up the "for hire" section of the site with some details about what I've done and what I can do. If you or anyone you know is looking for an experienced web developer for pretty much any type of work, please let me know.

Battle jet lag

Jet lag: 3
Meg nut: 0

I went to sleep at 8 pm last night, though I think it might be related to a touch of sickness I've acquired. Regardless, being up before the sun holds no charm for me. I've done it enough in my life (every day for four years in college because of rowing, for example) that I never want to experience it again, especially on a daily basis.

Megnut as MacGyver

I have all these MacGyver-like thoughts to share with you regarding my airplane experience but I'm a little afraid I'll end up on some list someplace, and I still need to fly in two weeks to DC and Boston. Isn't it a little silly to be afraid of such things? But if people are being prevented from flying because of the books they're reading [via rebecca], I can't imagine what would happen if I were to tell you about how I realized that my carry-on bag contained a long metal rod, and that Air France had given me a real glass glass (accompanied by a useless plastic knife), and how I pictured I could break the glass, tape it to the end of a long metal pokey rod and make a bayonet on-board the aircraft. If I told you that, would they still let me fly?

Normally I don't concern myself with thoughts of how to make a weapon out of my personal belongings, but something about the arbitrary, and seeming short-sightedness, of the new security measures, led me to it. Tweezers were prohibited. Tweezers. What, is someone going to tweeze the flight attendant's eye brow until the pilot relinquishes control? But then they serve GLASS. And a sharp-as-hell fork. But a plastic knife. Apparently one of the victims of September 11 was common sense.

Note: I don't know what the solution to this is.

Speaking of security though, I have to say, kudos to Charles de Gaulle (the airport, though the man was great too) and Air France in Paris. I've never seen anything stricter, much tighter than SFO. Three passport checks, the final one half-way down the jet way. And random bag inspections on the jet way as well. And lots of people with machine guns patrolling the airport. I think I've seen enough machine guns.

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