The Fire

Platform transfers and compatibility are getting tedious. I didn’t anticipate that level of trouble, though I’m not surprised that sometimes I get to do a file transfer by paying money, usually a subscription. Soon, it will be air (it is already, just not overt).

But I’d wanted to mention the fire. San Francisco is crawling with interior courtyards, behind houses, inside city blocks, a lot of gardens unseen, places where beauty happens and nobody goes there even if it’s right there. Some legal mishegas, it’s private property. Sometimes a restaurant or bar will have a courtyard where people can sit, used to be able to smoke cigarettes, and have their dogs along.

Our place had a sun room sort of area, lot of windows facing east, and intermediate stuff like appliances, laundry machines at one point, the water heater… Outside that was the porch, third floor, we looked out on the courtyard. Four apartment buildings ringed it, and some of the first floor folks kept it up.

Every now and then, somebody would do a band jam session, so we got a private concert, it was terrific.

I loved the courtyard, it was lush, the vines on the opposite building flowered, we grew some plants, there might have been jasmine.

Then the opposite building caught on fire.

I thought I’d burned toast or something, until the noise from firefighters filtered through, they were throwing everything out the windows, killing everything combustible, putting it out. 2001 wasn’t a great year.

I painted the courtyard before it happened, then painted it again after.

and took a picture 9 years later

everybody’s doing fine

Cross Platform never ends

I’d looked up a poem and copied it into my clipboard, mousing around and getting frustrated as I couldn’t pin it down, but eventually, I caught the text, and cranked up a basic text editor, Notepad, so I could park it for a minute.

Now I had it in my virtual hand. Posted it to Facebook, that was easy, didn’t even have to be an attachment, I just CTRL-V-ed it into my post, because text, understood.

But then I decided to send it as a message on my phone, and life got hard. I mailed the poem/the file to myself, so I could open my mail program on my phone, but it wasn’t an attachment, it was “included” as text, and my phone cares not for that. I tried screenshotting my email, that might have worked. There was a download option, to the Google Drive or some location that I can’t find. It’s around somewhere, short bit of text, can’t be that complicated. Screenshots are in my Gallery, but it’s not there. One thing offers to transform it into a .pdf file, I say fine, and I assume it happened but no clue where it went.

Finally, I sent just the screenshot into the phone text message program, a photograph of the text. I could have just typed it in myself.

Now, to add it here, I just searched the default Documents directory on my computer, it had to be there, I saved it, but nope. Look all around, it doesn’t show, I try for an image because that’s the only way I could snag it onto my phone but nope.

Notepad finds it. Here. Text, not an image, not a screenshot.

Never seek to tell thy love
Love that never told can be
For the gentle wind does move
Silently invisibly

I told my love I told my love
I told her all my heart
Trembling cold in ghastly fears
Ah she doth depart

Soon as she was gone from me
A traveller came by
Silently invisibly
O was no deny

William Blake, 1793

she was dying, nothing mattered

Out of touch

It wasn’t me, it was them. If you can’t casually side reference something “everybody knows” in the conversation, it’s the end of culture as we know it.

Guy I know, same age group, didn’t know what The Answer is, but god love him, commented that two squares and a cube, you’re mixing dimensions. He never read the books.

Other guy, older than me and old enough to know some iconic San Francisco, old enough to have met Harvey Milk, Harry Hay, and Armistead Maupin… doesn’t get the reference to the name Michael in Tales of the City, didn’t read it, maybe saw some film or video bits, and jesus, I have to repeat that Michael Mouse met a cruisy waiter whose name was also Michael, sat down friendly, something to the effect, “Where did they get this Bruce?”

I have to keep track of everything around here? FTM trans support groups regularly issue pleas for us to stop all choosing the same name. Apparently, we have a crop of Olivers lately. I’m amazed there aren’t more Maxes, it’s so obvious.

That said, it’s considered poor form to use or ask a person’s dead name, or birth name, as they may well have thrown it away and aren’t that person, so don’t be rude.

Mine, not a thing. It was my name before, now it isn’t, too many people know what it was anyway, it’s not a secret. There’s a Belgian hero, clearly me, I was Alix for long enough:

a cube and a couple of squares

See now, to me this contains a referrent that is somewhat generation specific, but also, really? Three cubes? (You can force it to be 3 cubes but I have a thing for integers, so stop with the 3 cubes.) Have you SEEN a right triangle?

Here, let’s be annoying. Edit: I’m now annoying myself, so relax and enjoy the painting part. A cube and two squares, don’t know why that stuck differently. This angle is still annoying, and 3,4,5 will always be a classic. Talk to Pythagorus. I’m not in charge of angles.

you took math in junior high, but forgot

I need to get some younger friends so I don’t die alone and lonely.

Have a painting, short on specifics, her name was Tiffany

it’s hanging somewhere

It’s really simple, two squares and a cube, bam, The Answer, done.

cross platform data transfer

Trying to remember the year, I think it was 1988 but I’d started throwing this around for years before, walking into meetings and conferences and announcing that from now on, all these computers would be integrated and networked and accessible and data would fly around the world at the speed of light. No problem.

Reporter in the field needs to file a report? Data? Quick turnaround on some kind of budget analysis? Expense report as a trip happens? Fine. The stock market’s a no brainer.

See them on TV? A law enforcement officer grabs a fingerprint onto their smartphone, clicks the screen, and tada! It’s been processed through the national fingerprint database so we know… something, that’s the plot point, not my problem. My problem is the image was a format incompatible with the system at the precinct, so they get the IT guy to transform it and send it to the FBI, their software reads it, then a person reads it, the whole thing is blurry from lost resolution, and this is the super good stuff, not the closed circuit camera junk floating around. And that’s if you’re lucky!

For reasons I’m embarrassed about, I taught a wildly popular Distributed Services course at BU, and everybody lost. Do you know what goes on behind the curtain, not talking incompatible file formats, just plain old plain old, bytes from here to there. Tim Gunn voice: “Make it work.” A lot of this was done by freaking hand.

Even better voice, George Mitchell, the master diplomat negotiator who’s pulled off some epic mediations. Ireland. American Baseball. The Olympics. He gave up on Israel and Palestine, that said a lot. A key point I learned from him was, It’s OK to get complicated. Go ahead. There are details, tweaks, maybe you have to shove the side gutter over on a slant that doesn’t match code, but in context, it will get from here to there. Charlie Brown, always depressed that he wasn’t perfect. Yeah.

Sounds banal, but when you’re down where your fingerprint photo got taken by an iphone but the destination system is only playing PicMonkey for some reason, and the network between the two is on mismatching platforms, and god forbid this doesn’t happen any more (much) but they might not even use the same basic character sets, or bytes are different sizes and that matters for backup, or printing, or something.

So often I was offered contract jobs to make some pile of data reformat to shove into a new system, and I learned to tell them real live true amounts of money and time it would take, for me, maybe someone else could do it faster, but it was hardly ever worth it, and better not me.

We had a guy on staff who specialized in this stuff. Here’s a tape, or disk, or a cassette, or card deck, or punch tape, I want my thesis, I need my research, the data is key, please bring it back. And he was a freakin genius, took it as his personal mission, the guy was awesome. Phil. Still around, proud to know him.

That was all veering toward compatibility, integration, distributed services, it got a little crazy with even the insides of the systems getting multithreaded, multiprocessed, calling and journaling and archiving and trading off procedures and variables. The banks already did it, same way as they always did it on paper: two sets of books, one system out, next guy’s up, understudy’s ready. They were totally in to make the money part reliably work, and it did. Took a little while to believe the ATMs, but it went ok. The pressure on the systems folks was insane.

The banks were using computers for their original purpose: numbers. Computation. Adding, subtracting, deal with that decimal point. Accurate, fast, good at the thing. Those NASA Figures people were in it, same stuff. Payload, acceleration, fuel consumption, medical stats, Numbers.

What nobody anticipated was that the USERS, not the programmers, not the civil service employees, not the bank systems specialists reproducing their paper ledgers with punch cards… the USERS, including some lab guys, students, academics, military lab folks, started dicking around with text. Kids started playing games with the alphanumerics on video screens. Word processing, for god’s sake. And, just when we were supposed to be out of the paper age, Fax Machines. Biggest setback for trees until Amazon’s supply chain woke up.

Now I have this idea that the real important action is invisible, behind the scenes, no publicity, contrary to our spectacle culture. Instead of giant announcements in major papers and on TV about advances in robotics with film and cute names, you know who pulled it off? I was at a lab working on AI, knowledge acquisition, rules based systems, and we were making zero progress. Someone figured out that if the program could follow someone’s writing as it happened, the direction and relationship of the strokes meant more than the shape in the end. Palm Pilot stylus worked that way. Voice recognition? Forget it.

The banks solved people trusting ATMs, almost seamlessly. Writing? While everyone was losing their stylus, guess who solved it, almost perfectly, no fanfare, no nothing.

The United States Post Office.

Had you met Penny Lane before?

This is worthwhile, probably

(That got very ugly very fast. I’ve deleted the pile of garbage code lifted from Instagram’s Embed function, vaguely in the HTML range but no.)

Backfilling, try this…

No. I want this link from YouTube.

holy shit, that worked (the + in a circle on the left of the block)
think this will show up?


Can’t see it in the editor — I’ve saved an image of the error display with snip, it’s over in \Pictures\wordpressfbfail or like that, I’ll dig it up. But once it gets published, the actual FB post makes it through.

What did I do? In FB, at the post, (has to be public), click on the date/time header to get the URL into the address bar, copy that over to WordPress whatever embedder/facebook/URL box (the + in a circle on the left was a way toward that). It’ll go in, not super smooth, coy about it but it WILL SHOW. Remember this.

For completeness, here’s the image WordPress shows the editor before it yields and allows the original FB post to show:

======== Everything above this was added at the end =========

We never did pin down that link business, but I’d had one shining experience with WordPress handling links waaaay beyond what any other platform could do. So, let’s see…

That wasn’t very gratifying. Try again….

That was two tries, the second actually created a clickable link, but no other information, no thumbnail, nothing. But wait, there’s an article about this “Embed URL” function, and why it’s so sleek. That depends on a private list that WordPress maintains on its own, of who they trust to throw around thumbnails and video previews and the like. Guess what. My link is not on their list. They like YouTube and FaceBook but let’s see if we can finagle them into letting Stanford play ball.

Nope. Give me a minute here. That should have worked.

we may have achieved liftoff

No no no no no no no no. I could do this with raw code, but that wasn’t what they promised.

incredibly odd that the images won’t show up

What a godawful mess! The Pride Study at Stanford has sources for its images in case I feel like dropping them off, but that’s not their main focus so digging them back up, copying them to my disk, then transferring them over to here to go with an embedded link that should be carrying its stuff around with it… no no no no no. And WordPress is just lying about Instagram and Twitter, though the Pride Study might be protecting itself somehow.

Find a picture.

“Full” space, lives with a friend, it was a barter


So I got this in email:

According to our records, you filed a claim for alternative compensation of up to $125 in connection with the Equifax data breach settlement and certified on the claim form that you had some form of credit monitoring or protection in place and will continue to have the credit monitoring in place for a minimum of six months from the date of your claim filing.
You must either verify or amend your claim by October 15, 2019.

… and etc and so on… $125, reduced because they’re anticipating a settlement that won’t fit the number of people with claims.

I filled out the form, the number of structures monitoring my financial status at any time, predictably, is large and the list doesn’t fit in their little box so I put Giant Bank, Other Bank, Investment Bank (etc, list avail.) before I ran out of space.

No section to point out that their settlement is going to be off if they’ve figured out already it won’t meet restitution. Bad lawyering right there, though I assume the lawyers will do just fine.

I’ve done worse and I’ve done better in class action suits.

Here are the Gates of Hell, inspired by Rodin to me to canvas:

Gates of Hell

This never works

Hope you loved Dino, he was terrific, a friend who swore to me once that he was “my insurance.” I believed his commitment, but not his ability to rise up in danger. That’s always the thing though, we think we’ll rise up, the moment will arrive, the girl will be tied to the railroad track, and you, Dudley Doright, will save her in the nick of time.

Or there will be an accident, or you’ll have to choose between your children on the way to the ovens, or something urgent.

That’s not how it works, kids. Christians stand up every day, so do all persons of good will, all day, every second, not waiting for that cliffhanger to get them right with god or whoever’s running this thing, they keep doing it every time. They don’t wait for the dramatic moment. They’re not on TV.

Why this picture. This is Wiener, my miniature dachshund, lived mostly with me but with others through their great generosity in rough times, she lived to be 15 years old. She died in November 2001 after a long illness.

You can see on the paper that I painted it May 13, 2001, looks like water color. I remember the day, not painting it.

I spent the morning making potato salad, and I am serious about my potato salad, it takes forever, there’s a whole bit about chilling and chopping to the right size, and seasoning. It was for a party up in the North Bay that afternoon. As the time to leave grew near and I was finishing the potato salad, I ruined it. The top of the pepper bottle fell off and dumped too much pepper into the mix, and that was it.

Never fear, I simply ran up a batch of brownies, had to bring something. I was late, but got to visit friends and see their artwork. I think I may have brought Wiener with me, irritating the people with the dog on top of being late with underdone brownies.

Not much after I got home, Dino’s niece called and said, “Dino died.”

Know anything about altered states? Let you in on it, you’re altered. Wait what, you must not be real, Dino is a different person, he wasn’t sick, see, you don’t understand, I was just messing up the potato salad and apologizing for being late. See? Regular stuff, no Dino died. Tanya, in her teens, had taken it on, to call me. He and I were ill, we compared how many pills we took, we shared private stuff that lovers might find ugly. But he wasn’t that sick.

“He got shot” and time stopped. It was Mothers Day, Dino was at home, he loved his mother more than anything. What.

I don’t remember anything else about that day except that my partner let me just sit and weep in waves for hours, maybe days.

Apparently, I painted that picture of Wiener that night.

Well then

Having been released from prison Blog University, there are pictures that need to be kept. Good a place as any. It was a studio exercise, “empty space and full space”

March 8, 2001

I may be misperceiving things, my eyes aren’t great, but it looks to me as though a shadow across the bottom of the images is added to them in the course of their arrival at WordPress. I’ve seen it before. It looks sort of classy, but even with low-rez phone pictures, which these are, it’s a major sin. In this case, it actually dims the in-picture painted title of the second one, FULL, which utterly blots out a good part of the point.

If I have to explain it, we’re not friends.

EDIT: that shadow only shows up in the editor, so the pictures are saved as far as they made it through my phone. Odd effect, counter-productive, thought I’d gotten away from this shit.


I dont have the answers, just a lot of questions.

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