November 26, 2003


Is it possible to have five persons within the contiguous United States, none of whom are within 1000 miles of any of the others?

Yes it is, and my immediate family has achieved it.

My father lives in Ohio, my mother in Florida, my brother in Texas, my sister in Montana & I'm in California. The scattering is so wide it almost appears intentional. (Kidding aside, I really wish I could see them all every day...)

So no family Thanksgiving for me. In fact, no plans at all, other than a desire to wake up tomorrow morning, get in the car, and head for the Sierras...which may or may not happen.

Posted by Jason at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

Woozy-heading surfing

Tired after several nights of not sleeping well due to the cold I brought back from Korea, last night I broke down and took an antihistimine. I guess I'm very sensitive to these things, because today I feel downright drugged. And not in a good way.

But not so drugged that I don't have a few things to share.

  • From Rolling Stone, a new & improved 500 greatest albums of all time
  • From Berkeley's Geography Computing Facility, a nice collection of visual resources
  • From the Boston Globe, some pre-Thanksgiving thoughts on the subject of gluttony
  • From Dave Winer, an actually funny jewish joke
  • From Crooked Timber, an interesting free speech dust up at the U of Toronto
  • And from me, a new posting on
And if you don't find any of these interesting, you may need to lower your dosage.

Posted by Jason at 04:26 PM | Comments (2)

November 25, 2003

Limbaugh behind bars?

Mark Kleiman thinks Rush Limbaugh may be heading for prison. And while he's at it, he notes:

The sad story of Limbaugh's drug addiction wouldn't be a total loss if it helped his fans and political allies rethink their position toward drug addicts in general. Noticing that they aren't actually willing to apply the principles of tough love and zero tolerance to someone they care about, they might start to wonder whether those principles are really the ones we ought to be applying to drug addicts who aren't famous or rich or well-connected. Instead, they've just gone into denial about the fact that Limbaugh's case strongly resembles the case of other drug abusers.
Cognitive dissonance theory says their attitudes will adjust, but if you'll excuse my partisanship, the right seems to have an uncanny capacity for denial and hypocisy. So I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by Jason at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2003

It's the little things

Two cool things on Korean Air's Boeing 777s:

  • Headrests with wings that fold out to provide head and neck support
  • Cup holders on the backs of the tray tables
And my question, as usual, is why didn't I think of these things first?

Posted by Jason at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2003


Yesterday's sunset from our houseI got home just in time to see Saturday's sunset from our house. I've been following the southward progression of the sunsets across the hills of Marin ever since we moved here in August, and have wondered whether it would make it to the Golden Gate before it reached its southernmost point at the winter solstice.

Well, it does look like in a week or so I will get to see it set behind the Golden Gate Bridge - and right into the Pacific. What a treat it will be.

Posted by Jason at 04:43 PM | Comments (2)

November 20, 2003

Reporting from Seoul

I'm in Korea, displaying appropriate comportment: bowing when told to bow, drinking when told to drink, et cetera. I was drunk within about an hour of my arrival in Seoul, but if you believe me when I say I spent my first night on the floor of the Seoul National University hospital mortuary, also believe me when I say that it's not as outlandish as it sounds. Or maybe it is. In any case, that was days ago, and to bring things up to the present, it was only a few hours ago that a monk at the Buddhist temple up the hill said that I (yes me, the foreigner) had executed the most proper prostrations of any among the core group of mourners.

I don't have the time or distance to reflect on what's been going on here, but it has been very moving.

I'll be back in a few days.

Posted by Jason at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2003

Off to Korea

When the phone rings in the middle of the night, some people fear the worst. We sometimes get phone calls at odd hours from Korean friends and family confused by the time difference, but early this morning, the middle of the night call from Korea was the bad kind:

Jiwon's father, my father-in-law, had just stopped breathing. Twenty minutes later, a second call confirming that he was gone.

It's amazing how fast things can change. Also amazing how much you can get done, when you have to. Jiwon is already in the air, out over the Pacific. I will follow on the next flight to Seoul. It took two heads to get her logistics together, so I wasn't ready when it was time to head to SFO. So I just dropped her off & came back home to prepare for a rather sudden departure.

Passport, cash, phone numbers, and what am I forgetting? Josie! Damn, I'm abandoning my guest. I don't even have a dark suit. And I have to get this glittery nail polish off my fingers.

I have no idea how these things work, but I do have some role to play in the elaborate funeral rites, and I believe it involves me wearing a long hemp robe and a particularly silly hat. More on that, and on the extraordinary life of Jiwon's father, when I return.

Korea friends: this isn't a social visit, but don't be surprised if you get a call from me.

Posted by Jason at 03:30 PM | Comments (1)

November 14, 2003

Friend arrives, dancing occurs

Josie's here! My dearest friend from Boston flew in yesterday, and she'll be staying with us for the next ten days. She's ostensibly here for APHA's annual meeting in SF, but just between us, she's mainly here for a good time.

The good time started soon after her arrival, as we crossed the Bay to see Signal Path at the Boom Boom Room. Signal Path lays down a steady stream of entrancing live electronica grooves. It's good stuff, so go have a listen. Sarah & Molly were both there, and I sent them away with freshly burned copies of the SCI Halloween show. (Anyone else want a copy? Let me know.)

Posted by Jason at 12:50 PM | Comments (1)

November 13, 2003

Clifford Lynch, library hero

Who: UC Berkeley librarians
What: LAUC-B Fall Assembly
Where: Morrison Room, Doe Library
When: 8:30AM today
Why: Because the rules say so

Among other business, yours truly was introduced to the assembled as a new librarian. It was slightly embarrassing, but then again, I'm sligtly oversensitive. Then Clifford Lynch, director of the Coalition for Networked Information, gave a talk centering on the rising importance of institutional repositories.

You know, we do our best as librarians to be stewards of intellectual assets, but with the arrival of the age of digital materials, it's hard to know just how to do that right. And for this reason and others, I'm sure glad Lynch is on the job!

Posted by Jason at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2003

You are what

Accepting at face value the contemporary meme which states (only half-cynically) that You Are What You Buy, do the results of today's shopping spree bring me into sharper focus?

Brought home from an afternoon of shopping in Berkeley & El Cerrito:

Only the last three are durable goods, and will hopefully provide years of viewing and chopping pleasure. The other items will soon be consumed with great relish. And though I don't know if they are me, I suppose I can agree that they all say something about me.

Posted by Jason at 08:53 PM | Comments (3)

November 10, 2003

Barefoot on astroturf

One of the nice things about hanging out with bloggers is the pleasant surprise of viewing someone else's take on what you did the previous afternoon. With a sunshiny photo of me & Philo even!

And in return, I'll say something about Vera: besides being a Flash goddess, freaky photographer and fine interview subject, she's also such a sweet, sparkly hip-shaker, you really don't want to miss the chance to meet her. And you can meet her, if you come hoop with us one Sunday.

Posted by Jason at 09:51 PM | Comments (1)

November 08, 2003

This evening

This evening I had my first Krispy Kreme donut. And my second.

And the night is still young.

Posted by Jason at 08:49 PM | Comments (3)

This afternoon

After brunch today we went to Muir Woods, to walk among the redwoods and ferns. The forest was dark and mossy, and the drizzle seemed appropriate. It smelled so good I nearly hyperventilated trying to take it all in.

We became more ambitious, and took a trail up and out of the valley. We left the crowds near the park entrance behind, and hadn't seen anybody on the trail for a half hour or so, when it started to really rain. I hadn't seen rain like this since India in July. It poured down our rainjackets and soaked our pantlegs. The trail became a stream. The sound of the rain on my hood was too loud, so I took it off. Despite getting ever wetter, I was warm enough as long as we kept moving.

My tolerance for being wet is considerably higher than Jiwon's, but every time I looked back, I saw nothing but smiles. We passed over a ridge, came out of the forest, and found ourselves slowly descending across a meadow on an ocean-facing slope. There was wind and rain coming off the Pacific, whipping the long brown grasses that will soon be replaced by a fresh crop of green shoots.

We made it back to the car just before dark, turned on the heat to keep the shivers at bay, and headed for home.

Posted by Jason at 08:48 PM | Comments (1)

This morning

Got up late after having Amy, Jay & the visiting Lawnboy over for Friday night festivities, and went for brunch with Jiwon at Smokey Joe's Cafe. Yesterday's New York Times travel section had a piece on Berkeley, and Smokey Joe's got a nice mention:

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Smokey Joe's Cafe (1620 Shattuck Avenue, no phone) claims to be the first vegetarian restaurant in the country. ("Where the Elite Meet to Eat No Meat," boasts the menu.) Take a seat on one of the swivel stools at the counter for a bird's-eye view of Ned Getline, the owner, manning the grill in front of a panoply of political posters dating back decades. The food is nothing fancy ...
Nothing fancy, indeed! But it is a cool place. Anyway, Ned hadn't seen it, so I gave him my copy. He paused to read it, spatula in hand, and quickly went back to the grill with a laugh. He said to his cohort that he'd always assumed that when restaurants made it into such high profile publications, either restaurant PR or payoffs were involved. Under the circumstances, he was now forced to reconsider.

Posted by Jason at 08:40 PM | Comments (1)

November 07, 2003

The timelessness of Harvard Yard

This 1910 panoramic view of Harvard Yard (view small or large image, from LC) could have been shot yesterday.

Harvard is probably the most stable institution in the United States. Come what may, I predict Harvard Yard will look pretty much as it does now in the year 2200. The insides of those buildings is another story: after all, they've already gone from oil lamps to ethernet....

Posted by Jason at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

The roving librarian

I was just looking through the Information Longevity page maintained by Howard Besser. It looks a bit stale, which doesn't sound like him. So I poked around a bit, and I think I found the reason: look at his travel schedule!

Posted by Jason at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

Population clock

What is the current population of the U.S.? And of the world? For a best estimate, see the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Clocks.

Refresh the page & be horrified as the numbers climb, or use the Java version, and imagine the high-speed assembly line of babies being spat out.

And if you think it would be good to stabilize world population, the NGO Population Connection is working toward that end.

Posted by Jason at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2003

News Flash from NPR

NPR fans, rejoice!

NPR has just announced on the air the receipt of an enormous bequest from the estate of Joan Kroc. The $200 million being forked over is "the largest monetary gift ever received by an American cultural institution."

I belive this amount is around twice NPR's annual budget. Hurrah!

Posted by Jason at 11:13 AM | Comments (3)

Coolest site ever?

Lawrence Hall of Science sits perched on the hillside at the top of the UC Berkeley campus. The location offers an unobstructed view of the Bay Area, and they have a webcam set up. The LHS webcam site has three elements:

I find the timelapse movies, especially those in the archive, beautiful, fascinating and somehow poignant. Yes, I have watched them all, and they're a great intro to the Bay Area's weather.

And since I spend most of my weekdays buried deep within the library, how nice that I can look back & see a quick summary of what went down weather-wise!

Qucktime and high-speed connection required. Highly recommended.

Posted by Jason at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2003

Vegas report

Weekend in Vegas, shorter version

3 nights on hotel room floors, 2 amazing cheese shows, 1 shower, 0 regrets

Weekend in Vegas, longer version

OK, so I spent most of the weekend in fake eyelashes and a Statue of Liberty crown. So what? It was Vegas, it was Halloween, and I was hanging with folks so freaky it'd probably break your freakometer if you even tried to measure it.

I knew a couple of the Happy Brigadeers before, but to be surrounded by them, to be fully enveloped in their contagious stokedness, was a major treat to be sure. And so it was that I lived for a couple of days in a Temporary Autonomous Zone encompassing two stellar Incidents, a presidential suite, various poisons, a lot of dancing, a little neon, and the viewing of the dawn with champagne in hand.

SCI & family, thank you. Happy Brigade, see you again soon. Sarah, you can ride with me anytime. Car, I promise to fix that sunroof soon.

Sarah, intergalactic superhero

Huge glowring war

Molly & Erin uncorking the aftershow

Somewhere near the Cal-Nevada border

Posted by Jason at 11:47 PM | Comments (4)