January 30, 2005

uh-oh & ahh-ha and the politics of free speech

Category: Research — Biella @ 9:31 pm

Fieldwork invariably produces a set of highly charged emotional responses that I think can be fairly characterized as those which produce the

January 29, 2005

Roaming to DGI

Category: Personal — Biella @ 6:03 pm


So the sato is starting to roam to another blog, DGI. Slightly (hmm, maybe significantly) more upscale than here, the posts there, unlike here, will follow my research escapades, sticking closely to the academic side of my brain.

January 23, 2005

A jolt into the horrific

Category: Humor — Biella @ 12:02 pm

Need a jolt? Well take a look at THE HASSELHOFFIAN RECURSION. Yes, I agree with you, this is somewhat obscene, speaking of which, a court just declared banning”horror porn” unconstitutional. I am not sure if the Hasselhoffian Recursion counts as horror porn even if at one level it is horrifying.

January 22, 2005

The topography of life

Category: Alzheimers,Personal — Biella @ 9:43 am

It snowed again last night, the white powder changing the topography of the city. With snow, comes a short period of silence a retreat from the normal bundles of noise and action of cities, a calm that unfortunately lasts only a short while, the noise of the snow plows and salt come out, transforming the white into limp gray.

But even then, the city shines in new ways. The watery blue of lake Michigan vanishes, replaced by vast whiteness that invites an awed gaze. One night of snow changes the look and feel of vast city, it bring with it a new topography.

The current topography of my life is populated by small piles, mounds of stuff, errands, emotions, emails, bills, laundry that in the last few weeks I have not been able to fully address and thus flatten out of my life. It has been three weeks since I have returned from Puerto Rico with my mother, a month that felt like it far exceeded 30 days of experience, instead feeling more like two or three months of experience because of all the emotion that comes from the intensity of watching someone suffer, struggling to get through the mundane acts of everyday life.

But despite the intensity of it, I had to give so much of my energy to the basics of getting (her) stuff done that I filed away the rawness of experience into some small pocket of my self, deposited away for later reflection. There was no way I could deal with her piles, her life, and process my own reaction to what is a life under decay, unraveling, her fiery independence muted by visual and mental degradation. More than anything, I wonder how I can express my gratitude I feel toward her, a gratitude that comes from the realization that has grown from the experience of taking care of her, which has made me see, in the fullest sense of seeing, how she spent so many of her minutes, hours, that have added up to years and years, caring for me, making my life possible, minimizing my suffering when I was in pain and just looking out for me in ways that I were completely imperceptible to me at the time. Her suffering has awakened something inside of me which is a new found gratitude but one that is tinged by pain difficult to describe because it is inseparable from the sadness I feel over watching her slip away.

In the past I would have fired off a letter to her letting her know how I feel about things, life, us, etc. I spent years writing her and she too would respond with letters, which does not quite capture the magnitude of her first set of writings to me. After I left home, my mom’s first letter was more like a small multi-volume encyclopedia peppered with her thoughts about.. most everything. When I received it, I was 17, living in a small fishing village in Venezuela, on a ship undergoing massive repairs. Life was laborious, dusty, tiring, and just overall grungy but the freedom of life among sea people in a small village was still nothing but exhilarating. About 2 months into my time in Venezuela, I get a DHL package from my mom with about 50 days worth of letters. Apparently, she was writing me a letter, sometimes pages in length, everyday. This left me in shock, a rumble that reverberated through my body, undermining my weakest link, my neck. So after reading the voluminous tract, while my neck healed, I spent three more days on my back mulling over all sorts of things I had not really known about my mom, her life, her inner world. I guess my absence created a space by which she could tell me things that could not be so easily uttered via the spoken word, at least not to your daughter and especially when you had never had ‘that type’ of sort of friendship-like relationship before. We continued to use the medium of letter to build our thoughts and sentiments, crafting one sentence upon sentence, words chosen deliberatively, to express ourselves, in new ways to each other.

Now she can’t read and I seem to lack the ability to tell her the things that I want to. And I know that she also has trouble expressing the depth of what she feels but at this stage, words don’t seem as important as a certain type of presence, which is calming for me and I am sure for her. And that is what makes being so far away so hard. The phone does not cut it and when she tells me some bad piece of news, I can’t seem to offer some distracting piece of information or humor to make her, me, feel better. I feel somewhat stuck and numb and empty, talking to a metal object, hearing a voice I knew well, and telling me in tone and content that things are very tough on the other end. Well, in time, I am sure we will once again be together. In the meantime, I guess I will get back to those little piles of stuff, flattening them out, creating a clear silent space that maybe will be like the calm of the snow.

January 19, 2005

One Calendar to Lure Them All

Category: Other — Biella @ 3:06 pm

If you need to woo a geek with a gift, look no further than hereStargirl is enjoying her own copy.

Froggy style web design

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 2:20 pm

While the craigslist aesthetic is still starkly simple, once in a while, there is a post that sticks out and in this case with some serious froggy style. What I am most surprised about is that this ad is Chicago based. Must have been induced by the extreme cold that leaves many Chicagoans, stranded indoors with lots of extra time.

The Matrix is scary X2

Category: Not Wholesome — Biella @ 2:04 pm

Cory at Boing Boing asks Why is American Airlines gathering written dossiers on fliers’ friends? . Well given the changing state of governmental surveillance, one has to ask whether AA will need to collect such data with the existence of a new privately run data collection organization/program the Matrix or perhaps it is just that AA is collecting this information not for the TSA but to sell to the Matrix who will then provide the information to the TSA… Nothing like a robuts market based on the buying and selling of your private information.

January 18, 2005

Up and running

Category: Personal — Biella @ 9:08 am

So the install is done and most of the files have been transported via a nfity tool Unison-gtk. It is pretty remarkable all is up and running because in times past it took at least a couple of weeks to get everything just right and even then, well, it was never just right.

The fabled 10 step Ubuntu install is totally true. It requires only the mildest of attention and thought. Unfortunately after the intall the first time around many of the GNOME applications were acting totally quirky: like it took over 10 minutes for open office to open. Now that may have been common in the past and with my computer but clearly something was wrong. So we had to reinstall and then everything worked all right. With Ubuntu, it coud identify sound card/video card, drives etc. However, some of the programs still needed tweaking to make things like sound in them work. As Andreas pointed out, the unofficial Ubuntu guide is also quite helpful for trouble shooting & getting those non-free packages like Acroreader etc.

I am not crazy about GNOME, the default window manager, but KDE is not currently supported by UBUNTU so I will have to get used to it for a while and then change back if I still feel the same way.

Anyway, this is definitely a step in the right direction… It will be fun to see what happens with Linux when the install is 15 minutes and additional tweaking is only 15 minutes more.

Oh and the computer is sweetly sauve. I love IBM keyboards and I just can’t believe that the computer can be so tiny yet still have an almost full sized keyboard. I say almost because the backspace is tiny and needs to getting used to. Otherwise it is classic scissor style keyboard that has this satisfying feel to it.

January 17, 2005

Morning Surprise

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 11:13 am

Ok, so my computer managed to get here before 10 am despite the China mishap. Now that is globalization for you. But now, I am debating or really trying to muster the inner strength necessary to brave the (INTENSE CHICAGO) cold to get a blank CD to burn a new Linux distro, Ubuntu which is supposed to be a snap to install compared to its “brotherly source” debian.

We will soon see if that is fact and fiction. In fact, since many of the Ubuntu developers have the same computer I have, Ubuntu apparentlyd detects the IBM x40 hardware with no problem. Given that in the past getting things like sounds, video, pcmcia etc to work with Debian on my past laptops was nothing short of a grueling death ritual, I look forward to this supposed new found “ease of installation…”

From China and back in a day

Category: Personal — Biella @ 12:54 am

So I ordered a computer two weeks ago and it finally shipped on Friday. But somehow in Louisville, KY, which is relatively close to me, it was sent back to its original place of shipment for “customs clearance:” Shanghai, China. So even though there is you know, email, faxes, telephones, by which one could verify the status of the package, it went back to Shanghai where it was magically cleared and then made its way back to the US via Anchorage, then KY, and now is making its way back to the US, in Rockford, IL. All of this information is thanks to UPS tracking system which seems to work better than their mail shipment system.