October 31, 2002

What type of blogger are you?

Category: Other — Biella @ 6:12 am

This is a funny piece on the different types of bloggers out there. They forgot of course the anthropology blogger, not very common these days but I hear a growing trend.

October 30, 2002

Some Pics

Category: Personal — Biella @ 8:40 pm

I am tired and it is only 8:30 pm!!! What am I to do but go to sleep?!? But here, here are some pictures, not all but many, from my trip…..

the place
more pics

Goodnight :)


Category: Personal — Biella @ 8:29 am

I am back, rested and enjoying the Mission District’s seemingly endless reserves of sun. It is quite a change from the Netherlands where rain, not shine, was the norm especially my last day there which was one HUGE stormy day and I only landed in the US to find myself in another storm which kept me in the Houston airport for the night as even the roads out of the airport were closed. Sleeping in an airport for the night is never fun, especially after a very very long flight and ESPECIALLY in an airport called George W. Bush International. Anyway. I am home, my baggage was delivered to me without any serious damage, and my roommates have just moved up one in my “Are you a god scale?” to “demi-gods” as they totally cleaned the house for my arrival. That was so sweet.

So, the bright sun and bigness of the streets here sure are a contrast to the quaintness that was Holland. I came home to find that the book The Undutchables that I had hoped to get before my trip waiting for me in my room. I started reading it yesterday and was glad that I waited because I now know what they are talking about…. I am sad to be gone as but there are some really nice things about being back. It is great to see my friends not to mention that this almost Disneyland-like (that is unreal) weather is dreamy. I did deeply miss a few other things mostly related to food, work, and sleep. I basically start my day parting with my sleeping partner, a huge stuffed frog (he won’t seem to turn into a prince no matter how many times I kiss the darn thing), make some coffee with soy creamer (which unfortunately does not exist in the Netherlands) and get on my beloved computer. How I missed the nice big screen, the gentle smooth keyboard, and the aheeem, the wireless connection, of course.

I have a lot to write about my trip and many many pictures to put up which I hope to get to later today or tomorrow. But to appease people who might be curious about my “main” research conclusions about the Dutch, here it IS!!!. And fancy that. It is not even mine but one I read in a newspaper in the Netherlands about 2 weeks ago. I just made one editorial adjustement. But keep in mind this is only the grand unrefined conclusion. The details with ample proof of “play” will soon follow.

October 23, 2002

bad bad blogger!!! (BBB)

Category: Other — Biella @ 11:06 am

Yes, it is I who has been a bad bad blogger (BBB). I mean, LORD! I have to walk like at least 10 minutes to this Internet cafe and somehow the harsh lighting and the strange atmosphere (a sort of passive aggressive desperation as everyone gets online in NOT-thier-natural-online-habitat, or is that just me projecting my own sentiments) is jut not conducive to the Blogging Muse (BM) that resides deep deep in my inner soul. Seriously, more than anything, I like to write late at night or early in the morning when I am not around a computer these days. I go to the Internet cafe with my BEST Intentions (BI) but I nearly always fail. I still can’t believe that anyone reads this thing anymore but I have found some comments which have put my linking abilities to shame so here is the correct link for http://get.a.clue.de/ProgStone/. Thanks Rabble. And since I am on the topic, Simon recommended this too: tao-of-programming which I have seen before but never read. Oh, it is on Kragen’s site, he is a friend from SF (In the words of Yoda, “HMMMMMMM. small small geek world, it is).

And Niels posted a nice summary of our bike trip so anyone interested in biking in the Netherlands please do read his very good summary. Niels, Mark-Jan, and I hope to go on one more bike ride tomorrow which should be nice given that it is not supposed to rain here, what a MIRACLE.

This last weekend was, like I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, was going to be a true goulash and the hilarious thing is that I ate actually ate homemade delicious Dutch goulash, at Wilmer’s farm house up north in Beiden. He is really the whole reason that I came to the Netherlands in the first place as he wrote me a long while back and in our email exchange he let me know that there were MANY Debian Devlopers (MDD) in the Netherlands. And was he SO right. Thus, it was funny that I had goulash at his house and that it was one of my more unusual and fun interviews I have ever had. I will have to write more about it at a later time but really, when you go out to herd cows into the milking barn with Ruby, the border collie, as your “interview break” (IB), you are in for an Interview Treat (IT). And if you use more than one interface for chatting, damn it, consolidate NOW and check out Wilmer’s wonderful Bitlbee which is not just a fine program but is just, well, a RAD name too..

And I found out about some other cool Linux stuff in the Nethelands too while at the Debian key signing dinner in Utrecht on Saturday. Rubin and Freek, yes, Freek (what a GREAT name, I though of naming my first born /bin freek coleman –> now that is a freeeeky name) started a very cool seeming Linux/Unix store called Vt100 in Da Haag. If you are a geek in the vicinty, what can I say, GOOOOOOO! And if you are a geek in visitation here, GOOOOOOOOO. Rubin is hilarious and he is very willing to make bets with you (which he will LOSE) about the imagery in what is now currently my favorite cartoon Fokke and Sukke which is not just a cartoon-experience for me but an interactive one. It is in Dutch which alas, I have NOT picked up here : ( and so, I need the fine help of my friends to decipher the cartoon of these two feathered friends who are obnoxious, gross, and irressistably cute and funny. If you know Dutch, read it and it might even be worth learning Dutch to JUST to read it.

Well, there are some Yummy Tid-Bits (YTB) to keep you waiting for some future posts when I am in the comfort of my home, punching away at the keyboard that I have come to love. I will be back more or less next Tuesday.

Well, I don’t think that I am any longer really a BBB as it seems like the BM has payed me a visit in this internet cafe despite the fact that I need to strech my neck to frikken see the screen (if there is one thing I have learned as an anthropologist, is that the world is not made for shrimps like me). And I will have more to write as I will continue to see more Debian folks as there are really MDD here and I might even have to take one more IB and hope to have even an IT (Wiggy, it is up to you to one up Wilmer’s IB) and if that is the case, I will have a YTP for you all again!!!!

October 19, 2002

Debian Galore

Category: Research — Biella @ 3:55 am

This weekend has been a true goouuuuuuuuulash of intermingling with Debianistas and there is just more in store for me as I am off to Utrecht for a general Debian gathering and then I get to interview another Debian developer tomorrow who grew up on a farm (where we will be doing the interview). He will be my representative “farm-boy-developer.” : )

Just when I think I am sick of hearing someone’s “programming life history” (we had a Sinclair… Atari, Apple II-e, Basic, BBS, blah blah), I am re-animated by the stories and perspectives I hear. And of course, I learn really cool stuff whether it is some new webite, blog, or piece of writing. I am quite excited to read this one on programming called the the programmer’s stone.

I am amassing quite the collection of writings on and by hackers on programming, hackers, UNIX, etc and I think I should compile the list and stick it on my website. Hmmm, a good project for when I return…

Well, gotta catch another train…..

October 16, 2002

Biking, Rules

Category: Personal — Biella @ 3:42 am

I finally have a little bit of time to write about the bike trip everyone has been so
anxiously waiting to hear about: biking along the coast, mid-October, in a northern European country, the Netherlands. I mean, October in the Netherlands is just when one would go on such a bike trip, right? I am glad I did not give the weather conditions any serious thought as I am sure I would have changed my mind…

It had been a long while since I had embarked on a multi-day bike trip and this trip held a whole bunch of little new experiences for me. Below is a list of some of the “first time” things of my trip:

1. I had never planned a trip with someone I did not know before the trip. I met Niels, my biking partner, over IRC (and sort of via this blog) a number of months back and we sort of randomly planned this trip online. As the time approached to go on the trip, I began to wonder if we would get along in real life withough the safe user interface of our
favorite IRC client. Thankfully, we interfaced nicely with each other and though IRC/email etc are nice mediators for interactions, bikes do a pretty nice job too.

2. I have never ridden alongside a recumbent bike, which is what Niels and Mark-Jan who came with us on the first day used. Despite the many stares they induce (and the occasional mockery), after three days of battling the Dutch wind, my bottom fed up with my less-than-user-friendly racing seat (what was I thinking brining that seat with me?!!##), I was downright envious of Niels’ bike. Demonic little thoughts would pop in my head from time to time in which I would take off his bike leaving him to fend the wind with my bike. But even if I had acted upon my evil desires (thank god for morality, no Niels?), I would have failed to execute them being that I would have to learn how to ride a recumbent.

3. Riding on dikes is, well, cool.

4. Riding through the dunes in the Netherlands, is also cool and it was a surprise. I would have never thought that I would have spent so much time riding through wild looking dunes in the Netherlands. It is something that I have never associated with this place.

5. A Blues festival on the island of Texel can totally foil your plans to sleep in a warm, affordable hostel. But thankfully we found a cold, affordable hostel to take her place.

6. RSI indeed comes about because of Repetitive Stress. This is the first time I have ever ridden any distance on relatively flat terrain which is surprisingly tough because you don’t ever get to stop/coast etc down hills. I don’t think that I ever have pedaled so much, so consistently which is why my knee was kinda throbbing by the end of the third day.

Then there were things that I already knew that I was reminded of on my trip.

1. Biking rules

2. Seriously, biking over the course of a number of days or weeks is a thrill. It is the best best way to see the landscape of a country (slowly) and you also feel pretty darn good that you can “push-pedal” yourself to get from place to place. I can’t wait to do another one, though I think I will wait till summer :)

3. Food tastes really good on bike trips because you get really really REALLY hungry.

4. Riding in the cold is kinda hard

5. Riding in the rain SUCKS. The last day was spent racing back to Amsterdam via the shortest (and hence ugliest) route possible to get the hell out of the freezing rain. I was miserable, and if Niels was, he totally hid it which was nice. He balanced me out for sure that day.

6. Though riding in the cold and rain SUCKS, you really appreciate the warmth and security of shelter that most of us thankfully do have.

So, that is the short list version of my trip. Props go out to Niels being the navigator and geographical tour guide. He can tell you all sorts of things about the built and natural environment of the place… Well, I am too wired on caffeine right now, so I better split and walk some of this caffeine off…

October 11, 2002

The Dutch Landscape

Category: Personal — Biella @ 1:45 am

I was on the train yesterday, on my way to interview Ivo and Charl two really cool Debian developers who live in the really lovely town/city of Delft which has stunning architecture. I have been on the trains here A LOT lately, loving the green of the Netherlands blur by me highlighted by some very colorful graffiti.

On this train ride, I thought about the first time that I ever gave any serious thought to the Netherlands and it was back in high school in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My junior year, I went on this huge environmental trip, instituting a recycling campaign in my school, founding an environmental club, organzing trips to really cool spots, and scheming different innovative ways to raise money for environmental campaigns. My car (aka “the recycle-mobile”) was always jingling with the sounds of cans (I had to take the cans in to the recycling center myself) and everyone would playfully make fun of me as the sort of “strange” environmentalist. For example, during senior prank day, “Kill the Whales” was splattered across my car painted on with some soap. I left it on my car for weeks as a sign of pride : )

I took a really great environmental science course with this teacher, Jose Maldonado a teacher that did not mess around with schooling and teaching. That is, he was hard as hell, making us write a 25 page paper at the end of the term about an environmental problem, the causes, and possible solutions. It was in that class that I first really heard anything about Holland as he used to refer to it as a model country in terms of sound environmental planning. He described it as this node of small cities where most of the population is centered with vast amounts of land surrounding it that was either used for farming (and in a smaller scale than the US which is well, not that hard) or just there. left to be. So despite a relatively large population, the environmental impact is lessened by concentrating folks in these nodes instead of what we do back home, which is spread people all over da place as if the US were some large piece of toast that needs some serious buttering.

Back in high school, I remember thinking how rad that sounded and how much I wanted to go visit to check it out. Over 10 years later I am here for entirely different reasons but still very glad to see the lanscape that I so admired from a far long ago.

October 9, 2002

Eldred case in the Supreme Court

Category: Politics — Biella @ 12:30 am

Just got word from Seth who is out in Washington D.C. that the Eldred case is going to be heard today. I have been waiting for this one for a long time. The depths of my cynism will emerge if the court rules in favor of (c) extension….

October 8, 2002

City Skies

Category: Personal — Biella @ 5:18 am

Skies, lights, clouds; these are elements that characterize cities and places for me. I used to love NYC during the dead of winter when the piercing blue and clear sky would allow an unmistakably bright light shine against the white snow showering the city with a shimmering peace that softened the city’s otherwise rough and rude edges.

Chicago has magnificient summer skies 2 kinds of which I was very fond of. The summerr violent lightning storms that if viewed from a far and towards the city would illuminate her solid and long skyline, a skyline that was made more special by the lake that sits next to her side. Then, there were those thick summer nights, my body cutting through the hazy thick air as I emerged out of the lake or as I moved through the night air on a bike or running down a disc on the frisbee field. The prespiration on my body indistinguishable from the sweet mugginess of the air.

San Francisco skies are an ever changing cycle of pristine spring-like clarity and comforting fogginess, both atmosphere’s caressing the hills, accentuating the lovely pacific ocean, and making the amazing golden gate bridge look even more grand and stoic.

Amsterdam’s dusk skies have been radiant with the intermixing of imposing thick clouds trying to claim the entire sky as her own but the forces of the waning fall daylight refusing to yield, sending forth glowing rays of pink, yellow, warming the otherwise cool night air, framing the entire city in a hue of pink, yellow, and blue. The browns and grays of the old architecture really coming to life at the time when day folds into the night. It is a truly beautiful time to walk through the streets of Amsterdam.

October 5, 2002

Biella and Yella

Category: Personal,Research — Biella @ 3:08 am

I had yet to meet someone with my name, Biella, surprisingly till last night at a Hippiesfromhell (a Dutch hacker group) mega-movie gathering, which was held at Yella’s house. When I first saw the name Yella on the hfh mailing list, I thought, “wow, that sounds a lot like ‘Biella’ only with a Y”. And funny enough, Yella is the structural equivalent of Biella in that it is short for Gabriella (as is Biella). Yella’s parents had heard “Yella” in Belgium and liked it much in the same way that my parents liked Biella over Gabriella when they heard my sister Sylvia christened me with it when I was brought home from the hospital back in 1973.

More than any other day here, I was surrounded by techie-types, programmers, and hackers, starting with a lovely bike ride down the Amstel river with Jim Mintha , a Debian developer who was a gracious host and a great interviewee and then ended the day at Yella and Hanno’s home to watch three really excellent movies all of which had to do with the question of selfhood, friendships, and reality online.

What was it like to spend a day with “the geeks” here in the Netherlands vs. my time with the geeks over in the US and Canada? Well, for the sake of shortness and linguistic play, I think the Yella Vs Biella naming schema is a good metaphor to think about the differences and similarities. Yella is certainly not Biella, yet there is a structural equivalence between the two. They are both shorthand for Gabriella and when anyone said “Yella”, I sort of had to think twice to see whether they were addressing the evening