Starting a New Book

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Today is an auspicious day. For the first time in several years I am putting fingers to keyboard to commence a completely new book, my first one since Effective XML. This is always an exciting and anxious time.

For the last few years I have written several second and third editions, and generated a copious amount of articles and conference presentations. However the book work has really slacked off. Quite a few good ideas never found a publisher; but the contract for the next book is now signed. It’s still a computer book, but it’s branching out into a new area I haven’t previously written about. Look for it in early summer 2007.

Buy Nothing Today

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Once again this year I am celebrating Buy Nothing Day. For one complete day, I will buy nothing. I will not stand in lines, browse department store circulars, save $4.95 on a $19.95 toy I didn’t want anyway, and otherwise participate in our annual consumer frenzy. Instead I plan to sleep in, make love to my wife, maybe write a little, and wander around the park looking at birds and hunting for mushrooms (which I don’t have to pay for). Beats the hell out of a day at the mall.

Getting to Empty

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Today I reached a milestone I haven’t seen in years: an empty inbox. Well actually, not quite, but close enough. There are now exactly 423 messages in my inbox and each one of them has one of four labels:

Something needs to be done about this message
A tidbit I’ll eventually post one of my web sites
Something I’ll need in the near future, but not until I get a response from someone else
Read and Review
Something interesting to look over when I have a minute, but not urgent. Mostly weekly updates from sites like IBM developerWorks and JavaWorld.

Along with Thunderbird’s built-in “Unread” label and sorting by date, these allow me to quickly and easily see what I need to deal with at any given time. Only the relatively small number of “Action” messages actually require me to do something. News, Waiting, and Read and Review can all be managed as time or interest permits. This also means I shouldn’t lose track of messages I need to reply to or act on for months, as I sometimes have in the past.

Several thousand other messages have been archived into various folders. This is all part of my ongoing efforts to implement David Allen’s Getting Things Done program.

My Heroes are Dying

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

I’m saddened this morning to find out that Robert Anton Wilson is dying, and is close to destitute. Support is needed. Paypal contributions can be sent to You can also send a check to RAW c/o Futique Trust, P.O. Box 3561, Santa Cruz, Ca 95063. Speaking as an author myself, while I’m sure he appreciates it if you buy his books, the time it takes for royalties to trickle through the system makes it unlikely that any such purchases will reach him before the end. Direct contributions are needed.

Biscuit Dough

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

I’m overly fond of Pillsbury Hungry Man Biscuits, which I’m sure means they’re incredibly bad for me. One can of 10 is roughly a day’s worth of calories. In Kentucky, Uncle Hamp used to buy cans of five biscuits each, which is a little more reasonable. However, all that seems to be sold in New York are cans of 10, and 10 is just way too many for one person. (My wife won’t touch them.)

Does anyone know a way to store the dough such that it’s still good the next week? or even the next day? Refrigeration doesn’t work. Freezing doesn’t work. Whatever I try, the second day biscuits fail to rise and end up tasting like half-burnt, gooey dough. How does the dough stay fresh in the pack in the first place? Airtight packaging? Any ideas?

Seeking Shangri-La

Friday, June 16th, 2006

I’ve been reading The Shangri-La Diet by Seth Roberts, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley. I’ve mostly managed to stay away from fad diets over the years, but this one got some unusual endorsements from people I respect including Kathy Sierra and the Freakonomics duo.

The basic idea is that twice a day you eat one to two hundred calories worth of sugar water or extra light olive oil. You must do this at least one hour after and one hour before eating or drinking anything else except water. Roberts claims this reduces your “set point” and thus reduces your appetite. Consequently you eat less, and lose weight.