June 30, 2004
All Venture Capital Panels for Startups Are The SameSome yang to go along with Ventureblog's ying.
I didn't attend Guy Kawasaki's The Art of the Start conference, despite the umpteen email soliciations urging me to attend (just look who's going to be there! Imagine how much you'll learn! Why, you may have already won!). And now, Guy's emailing me with post-conference upsells: I might have missed the conference, but that's no reason to miss the conference! Why, now it's possible to buy 8 recordings for the low, low price of $35.00, that's right, $35.00 gets you eight MP3 files you can download and listen to on your own! Sorry, at this point I have seen and heard enough of these panels and lectures to say with a fair degree of certainty that they are all the same. So in an effort to save you a bunch of time and aggravation, here's a transcription of the eight recordings. I believe that it is essentially a transcription of all past and all future venture capital startup-howto -wannabe panel sessions, so read it and free yourself of the need to ever attend such an event yourself:
June 28, 2004
50 More Inches, Then Yer Talkin'Steve Jobs introduced the 30" Apple CinemaDisplay this morning at Apple's WorldWide Developers Conference. Not quite what I've been waiting for:
(Originally blogged about the dream 80" CinemaDisplay a year ago. So, we have 50 inches to go...)
June 27, 2004
The Case of the Disappearing Republican OathA long time ago I posted a note in my Nettle blog that I was going to document my observations on the user experience of American political websites. Well, I've been meaning to, but got busy. Finally getting around to it. Sort of.
What follows is less about user experience and more about plain politics, I suppose, which is why it's not in Nettle and is instead here in brianstorms.
Every now and then I surf Democratic, Republican, Green, and Libertarian websites to see what they look like, what messages they're conveying, how sophisticated they are, how deep they are in terms of content and functionality, and what's changed since the last time I visited. I'd take notes, save bookmarks for stuff I found notable, and "move on," so to speak.
This report was going to be about what I found from surfing around Republican websites. Instead, it's about a document I found on some of the sites. Read on . . .
1. The Republican Oath
Now, we can debate all day long and into the night the content of the Oath. We can debate all day long and into the night whether that Oath should have the word "Republican" anywhere near it. We can debate whether or not every line, every single sentence in that Oath is betrayed by the actions of the current administration, and for the Oath to appear on any Republican website is the height of hypocrisy. Let's not debate all that here. It's been done elsewhere.
We can also debate whether or not, with minor modifications, the Oath pretty much describes a set of ideals and beliefs that the majority of Americans --- regardless of political persuasion --- would embrace, support, and live by. I've shown that Oath to die-hard progressives and liberal thinkers, and some have told me, lose the last line, and they'll agree to and support that Oath in a flash. I must confess that find it hard to disagree with much in the Oath, minus the last line.
I disagree with the last line because I've always thought that America itself was supposed to be the best vehicle for translating those ideals into positive and successful principles of government.
Someone somewhere (google it if you want) once wrote that it was notable that the word "democracy" doesn't appear anywhere in the Oath. It is indeed notable, in my opinion. But still, I suspect that if all Americans, including the politicians and those in government, really lived each day according to this Oath, the country, not to mention the world, would be a lot better off. Don't you think?
2. The Oath on the Web
States with GOP Websites Containing The Oath
When I started looking for the Oath, I assumed it'd be on every Republican site, starting with the mothership, GOP.com. Amazingly, the Republican Oath cannot be found on the main GOP.com site. Apparently it used to be there. When asked why it wasn't there anymore, the communications office of the Republican National Committee, the headquarters of the GOP in Washington, D.C., told me there was a GOP website redesign in January and its removal was "inadvertent."
May be, but nearly seven months later, it is still missing. And the fact that only one-fifth of all the Republican state websites in the U.S. have the text of the Oath somewhere on their sites suggests to me that the Oath is slowly, quietly, being swept under the carpet in the era of Dubya.
3. Searching for Clues
This Oath has had me intrigued. Who wrote it? When? Where? Why? What were the circumstances? Does one have to swear to the Oath before one can become a Repulbican? Is there a secret handshake? Does it originate from, say, the 1800s? Was this an Abe Lincoln original that I'd never heard about before now? Might be. I have no idea.
See, that's the mystery. So far I am unable to find out anything about the origins of The Republican Oath.
Start at the top, I always say. One would think that someone at GOP national headquarters would know. So I called the RNC. They don't know. I called them several times last week. Spoke to a different person in the communications office each time I called. Each of 'em were equally stumped. Got the same story each time: "That's a good question!" and "I'll have to ask around!" and "We don't have historians here at the Party, so, it's not like we have anyone who would know..." and "We'll get back to you!"
So far they have not gotten back to me.
I called Ed Gillespie's office. He's head of the RNC. His admin person said he was out of the office and busy. I left a message. Funny, you'd think she'd cellphone him the moment she heard it was the brianstorms blog calling. Oh, I forgot to mention that to her. That must be it. :-)
Not getting anywhere with the RNC HQ, I started contacting officials from Republican Party organizations all over the country, mainly by email. Phil Palisoul, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, was one of the few to reply to my inquiries. "I had no idea the oath even existed before you told me about it," sais Palisoul. "I have asked around but no one seems to know where it came from, or who wrote it."
Jay Mandraccia, an official with the Oklahoma Republican Party, wrote back with, "Sorry, Brian, I'm not famliar with this document. Could you forward it to me? Thank you." I forwarded him a copy. "Thank you. I'll do a little research and let you know what I find out."
Still waiting to hear back from him.
Dawn Phillips, the Communications Director of the Oregon Republican Party, responded saying, "Thanks for your inquiry. We'll ask around, but I'm not entirely sure either." (Too bad, since the Oregon Republican Party actually has the Oath on its website.)
Thought maybe Newt Gingrich might have had something to do with it. I emailed him and some of his staff at Gingrich Communications. Kathy Lubbers wrote back, saying, "To my knowledge, Speaker Gingrich did not have anything to do with this oath."
Dead ends everywhere. I sent out well over 100 emails to people all over the country beginning last Tuesday. I've gotten about six replies so far. I guess a 6% response rate, in the era where spam accounts for over 80% of worldwide email, is a good number and I shouldn't complain.
Late Friday night I got a reply from Wayne MacDonald, the Vice Chairman of the New Hampshiore Repulbican State Committee (New Hampshire does not include the Oath on its website). He said, "That's a great statement of principles, but I'm afraid that I don't know where it came from. Good luck in your search. Have you tried the Ripon Society?"
Never heard of 'em. Went to their site, got their email addresses, and fired away. I eagerly await hearing from the Riponistas. Who knows, maybe they wrote it.
4. Looking in the Library
It really is remarkable, if you think about it.
So I asked the Librarian to gimme the call letters for where Republican-related books are generally shelved at the Library. She gave me the codes. I wrote 'em down. I thanked her profusely (did I say that Librarians totally rock?). Got in the car, and drove to UCSD.
Hopped on the elevator, went to the sixth floor, and found the stacks for books on American Politics. There were quite a few books related to Republicans. I didn't know where to begin, so I just started with the biggest one, a history of the GOP. Nothing. No mention of the Oath.
Some fifty dusty books and a few sneezes later, I gave up. There was not a single reference to "The Republican Oath" in any of the books on the shelves.
So that's where things are at the moment.
I wish I had a punch-line to the story, but I don't yet. I hope that more of the Party officials will respond to my inquiries. It would especially be nice if someone from one of the San Diego area Republican groups would get back to me. (So far, nobody in SD is talking. Nada. Nothing. Zippo.)
5. A Brief Digression
I thought, wouldn't it be awesome if I solved this Oath mystery by talking to the Democrats -- maybe they knew? So I called the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C.
Unlike the RNC (whose website has names and email addresses and phone numbers for the separate divisions of the organization), the DNC just has one phone number and no names and no individual emails.
When you call the DNC, you get a switchboard operator. You tell her what person or department you want and she puts your call through. Each time I called the DNC, I had this vision of a switchboard operator from say the 1920s pulling out patch cords and inserting them in other plug holes on the switchboard in front of her.
Each time I tried to reach the Communications office, I got a recording for voice mail. The message said if it's urgent try a number for the Director of Communications. So I tried his number. Voicemail recording. Tried later in the day. Recording. Tried next day in the morning. Recording. Tried midday. Recording. Basically, I never go through to a human at the Democratic Party headquarters other than the switchboard operator.
Contrast this with the RNC, where no matter when I called, no matter what time of day, someone in the Communications office answered on the FIRST ring.
Note to Democrats: hire more people. Get more phones.
7. That's All for Now.
June 26, 2004
The Rise of DocumentariesI suppose for many moviegoers in the United States, Fahrenheit 9/11 will be the first documentary film they've seen (and maybe the only they'll see) this year.
Then there are moviegoers like me -- who have been seeking out documentaries for years.
According to this Top 100 Documentaries list (top in terms of box office receipts), I've seen 50. That's surprising, actually --- I thought it would have been more. I certainly wanted to see more, but some of these titles haven't shown up yet in San Diego. Others came and went before I could go.
June 23, 2004
The Return of the Trunk MonkeyI'd completely forgotten about a blog post I'd made back in September 2003. But then this week I got a check for $25 from CafePress. People out there apparently are buying the trunk monkey bumpersticker. Whoda thunk...
Continue to impress your friends! Put fear in the hearts of potential road-rage drivers! Buy more Trunk Monkey bumperstickers today!
June 20, 2004
Cory Discovers AsimovBoingBoing has a blog post about a site that offers some free, albeit wacky TrueType fonts. It caught my attention because Cory drew attention to the Asimov font, which happens to be the font I've been using for the past 2 1/2 years for the "brianstorms" logo above.
Someone ought to do a Doctorow font. Now, what would that look like?
June 19, 2004
More on (Moron?) BradburyExactly why, pray tell, can't the media ask the right questions? Why do they overlook things the bloggers don't?
For instance, now there's more news about Ray Bradbury. An AP Newswire story by Paul Chavez says Bradbury's now demanding Moore change the Fahrenheit 9/11 film title. From the article:
"He didn't ask my permission," Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press on Friday. "That's not his novel, that's not his title, so he shouldn't have done it.
Why didn't AP ask Bradbury about I Sing the Body Electric? Or Something Wicked This Way Comes? For starters?
More about this in my June 4th blog posting.
June 18, 2004
You're Gonna Carry That Weight, A Long TimeBack in February 2003 I blogged about Paul McCartney's stealth concert in Rancho Santa Fe, as reported in this San Diego Union-Tribune story. A wealthy couple had commissioned McCartney to perform, as a gift from the husband to the wife on her 50th birthday. The cost? $1 million, which McCartney gave to charity.
I noted in this week's San Diego Reader a tiny mention of the fact that the couple has since divorced and is in the process of selling their RSF home. Go figure.
June 17, 2004
Showing UpDepending on which Google search results you go with, Woody Allen once said that either 80 or 90% of success is just "showing up."
I've found this to be true. Opportunities present themselves if you look for them. And when one's doing a seed-stage startup, one spends a lot of time looking for opportunities wherever they are. Perhaps this explains why I go to tech conferences. It's not generally for the sessions. It's not the schmoozing or networking. It's because when a lot of bright people from all over the country or the world meet in the same room to discuss stuff, interesting and unexpected things happen. You wind up meeting people you didn't expect to meet, and those meetings in turn lead to other meetings and so on. All the hassle in going to the event in the first place pays off, miraculously.
Take for instance today's Meet the VCs breakfast, held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego. Run by the San Diego Venture Group, this event has become a pretty big deal.
A sea of banquet tables as people wander in at 7am
There were over 100 VCs at today's event, and over 600 attendees total.
The format of the event is interesting. Two or three VCs sit down at each table, along with a "table captain".
A partial list of attending VC firms
Two or three chairs around each table are covered white sheets (I'm surprised they weren't green). These are the "hot seats", reserved for the VCs. For 20-25 minutes, others seated at the table get to talk with the VCs. Then, music comes over the loudspeakers (the theme song from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery), and the VCs get up and go to different tables and new VCs come and sit down.
Of course, while there were 100+ VCs there, and a total of 600+ people, that doesn't mean there were 500+ entrepreneurs attending to meet the VCs. Instead, I'd say there were maybe 250-300 entrepreneurs, and the rest were what I call service sharks --- headhunters, lawyers, bankers, financial consultants, and various hangers-on, also looking for money from the VCs.
The twenty-odd minute sessions with the VCs at the table were primarily spent with the "table captain" asking questions of the VCs --- questions about their firms, the kind of ventures they fund, etc. All stuff one can get from visiting their websites. Not the kind of thing one needs to go to one of these expensive, time-consuming breakfast banquets to learn.
But what one does learn is the word here, or the phrase there, or the name here, or the company there, that gets mentioned somewhere around the table. It also is a chance to actually see the VCs face-to-face. Find out who's really bright, high-bandwidth, passionate, probably more likely to hear about a seed-stage venture.
That's a sheet-covered "hot seat" at right
Before the sessions started, it was amusing to see the service sharks winding their way through the tables, searching for the right tables (they already seemed to know which VCs were assigned to which tables --- how'd they know that?). "Kleiner's at table 5. Let's sit here," one service shark said, pointing to a chair to the right of a white-sheeted chair, "and here," pointing to the chair to the left of the white-sheeted chair. Service velociraptors.
Then again, I sat down at Table 6 next to a white-sheeted chair too. :-)
The table captain for Table 6 wound up sitting to my left. Very nice guy. From Tech Coast Angels. I guess he hadn't read my writeup here in brianstorms about the "Meet the Angels" session I attended back on May 19th at TCA's San Diego headquarters (a writeup that wound up being included in the San Diego Reader article)... whew!
One thing I heard that was very interesting: from an old-time very respected San Diego VC: Asian colleges are now graduating more engineers than the U.S. "Hey, wake up, America!" he said, "You no longer own your own genius." He went on to say "Korea and Japan are so far ahead of us." He also said, regarding outsourcing to India, "it's the way it's going to be, guys, it's 1/10th the cost!" He believed there was no turning back. I also suspected he doubted America would ever regain its lead in high tech. A viewpoint I find I'm increasingly having: the 21st century is the Asian-Pacific Century. America's just another customer, take a number, and wait in line.
At the end of the session, all the VCs were shepherded up to the front stage of the ballroom, for a group photo.
The Group Photo (Blurry Version!)
I suspect the real value of the group photo is that it gives the rest of the attendees a chance to zero in on those select few VCs they really, really want to be sure to meet or say hello to before they all escape the room. At least, that's how I used the time, and sure enough, I tracked down someone I was hoping to say hello to. First thing he said was, "You really need to meet _____." I told him, "That's funny, a whole bunch of people have been telling me the same thing!" He said he'd make a personal intro. There you go.
Showing Up works.
June 16, 2004
The Dave Winer RemixI waited and waited and nobody did anything so I went and put together a quick and dirty remix of Dave Winer's now-famous audioblog. Andy Baio has a good name for the remix: People Just Love to Jump Up and Down (2 minute MP3).
It took 15 minutes to do. It shows. I'm hoping it triggers others with more time on their hands to go to town and polish off something far better.
Andy's hosting the mp3 and having a contest to do the best remix!
June 15, 2004
Hear Hear, for Here Here's, or, The QuakeAfter reading the following sentence here:
I had to post something, in the hopes that Joe Crawford would add one more "here" to the list. I mean, after all. Please?
I felt the quake here in La Jolla. The house groaned and complained. Everything moved laterally --- east-west. No up-down movement, just a sudden, fairly strong east-west, west-east, east-west jolt that lasted about four secohnds. Luckily the stilts holding the house up are supported by those cables forming an "X" between the stilts.
For what it's worth, Jesse the English Bull Terrier slept through the whole thing.
Favorite television news moment: the interview at professor James Abbot's home (he's the local SDSU geology prof that the media loves to interview). From the camera angle it's not clear, but at one point the camera zooms in on the good Professor's Macintosh screen depicting the USGS website, and a finger appears, pointing to the wrong quake off the coast. The quake was 50 some odd miles south- southwest of Coronado, but the finger was pointing to a red dot off the coast of San Clemente. D'oh! Good ol' television news people.
June 11, 2004
Venus and the SunThanks to ceej for reminding me how great the APOD (the Astronomy Picture of the Day) site is. It really is worth a daily visit. Be sure to check out their archive!
Click on the link above to see a larger image from the APOD site (or click here to see the fullsize image in all its 1500x1500 pixel glory).
June 10, 2004
Ray Charles, R.I.P.A great American passed away this week. Tomorrow is truly a day of national mourning, for which all flags should fly at half-mast . . .
. . . for Ray Charles. Thank you Ray, for all the love, all the music.
On The Internet, Everybody Knows Your Dog
It's out! Jesse's famous! What a great cover!
The Reader did a great job. Thanks to Jim, Heather, Frank, and the rest of the team.
(A note to journalists, freelancers, and writers everywhere: my personal experience with the Reader team has been totally positive from start to finish. Very professional, courteous, and responsive. Everything a writer could ask for.)
UPDATE --- One little error I noticed in the text of the print edition. On page 48 at the top left. For the blog entry on the Chinese fortune cookie (see here and scroll down a bit), the Reader folks typed in the text of the fortune, rather than including the actual photo (they included it on the cover). But when typing in the text, they inadvertently corrected the mistake that was in the actual fortune, rendering my little comment moot. Here again is the actual fortune cookie. Notice the text doesn't make any sense because of the extra "be":
Madstone Bites the DustLongtime readers will remember my Madstone Theaters critiques in my Nettle blog. One of the things I was concerned with is that Madstone wasn't doing a good job marketing itself or establishing a brand that made sense.
Well, well, well. It seems they've up and gone out of business. Very quietly, I might add. Apparently the only news outlet that covered Madstone's demise was the Salt Lake Tribune.
I found out about it because yesterday I got a mournful email from a former Madstone San Diego employee, thanking me for my Nettle critiques from 2002. I think what she was saying between the lines was, "they oughta have listened to you."
June 09, 2004
HC RadioFred Wilson was blogging yesterday about HD Radio -- high definition radio. He mentions a USA Today story about HD Radio. He says, "I am getting a digital radio installed in my car in the next month. I can't wait to get the improved sound quality that this reporter from USA Today describes."
I have a serious beef with HD Radio and the company, iBiquity that's pushing it. A while back I contacted iBquity and asked them, isn't HD Radio basically about improved audio quality for the existing stations -- not a way for consumers to tune in to 500 stations? David Salemi, VP of Marketing at iBiquity wrote back:
Here's what I posted as a comment in Fred's HD Radio blog post yesterday:
Today I noticed Fred has a new blog post up wherein he agrees with me:
My mind boggles that even the most sophisticated car, whether it's the latest sedan from Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, you name it, or a fancy SUV or a practical Honda or the latest Hyundai or VW or whatever --- they all have AM/FM radios that are no different than ones 30+ years ago!. Sure, you can say, "that's what XM Radio or Sirius is for". I disagree. Satellites are great, but I don't see 10000 indie DJs in high school cutting deals with XM or Sirius.
The fundamental problem with radio is that a few very powerful corporations have a virtual LOCK, a complete and utter monopoly, on the few stations on the AM and FM dial. And they want to, and intend to, keep it that way for ever, thank you very much. Their whole scam depends on scarcity of programming. If there were 500, or 1000, or 10000 channels of information available, why, think of the drop in ad revenue dollars. No way are we going to allow a 19-yr-old geek with a Mac and a big iTunes collection to broadcast his playlists in our market. No way are we going to allow the likes of Ken's Last Ever Radio Extravaganza all over the FM dial (that would be so awesome!). No way are we gonna allow the audio from C-SPAN I and II on the the radio.
Instead, we have an FCC bought and paid for by the corporations, and the laws to prevent CHOICE from happening. Again, I remain astounded that in 2004, AM and FM radio remain as hokey and lo-tech as they were in the 1960s. The only reason is that a few powerful corporations have made sure it stays that way.
Improving the quality of the audio for the ClearChannels of the world doth not make a solution, in my humble opinion. It only prologs and exacerbates the problem. It is not progress.
It is just a shiner boot on the neck of progress.
I want choice. I want to hear from all voices, not just a select few.
The car radio in 2004 should be digital, for sure, but personalizable, and integrated wirelessly with my PC, PDA, wi-fi, etc. So I can tell it, "here are my preferences --- the stations I like, the keywords I like, the news I am especially interested in, the music I prefer. If I hear a tune I like, I should be able to press a button and buy it -- while driving -- and know with confidence that the tune is now on my iPod, or in my online storage vault somewhere, ready to download into iTunes at home. If I hear a great radio interview but I'm pulling in the driveway and the show's only halfway over, I should be able to tell the radio to save this program -- a la TiVo (RaVo!?) -- and I'll listen to the rest of it later, on my iPod.
This is HC Radio. So, where can I get it?
June 07, 2004
An Offer I Couldn't RefuseTime to 'fess up. Something really interesting happened with this blog two months ago. I chose not to write about it in April, and I chose not to write about it in May, but the time finally seems right to do so. Here goes:
The brianstorms blog is going to be the cover story in this week's new edition of the San Diego Reader. It comes out Thursday morning!
Some recent issues of the Reader.
What follows is the story of how it happened. First, a bit about the Reader itself.
1. Cosmetic Surgery Weekly, a.k.a. The Reader.
The advertisements tell a lot about San Diegans. Too much. If a Martian landed in a spaceship and picked up a copy of the Reader to better understand San Diegans, he might go away thinking we're a bunch of desperately vain, hyper-ennui sufferers, perpetually dissatisfied with our aging, sagging-in-all-the-wrong-places bodies. It's downright embarrassing. Just look at the ads:
Bariatric surgeons . . . Cosmetic Surgery . . . Hair extension . . . Hair coloration . . . Hair removal (with lasers!) . . . Photofacial Skin Rejuvenation . . . . Wrinkle reduction . . . Botox ($135 per area!) . . . Microdermabrasion . . . Diamond Dermabrasion (now with oxygen therapy!) . . . Glycolic Peels . . . Lasik eye surgery . . . Teeth whitening . . . Tatoo Removal . . . Massage therapy . . . Back pain . . . Neck pain . . . Ultrabronz(tm) High Pressure tanning booths . . . Breast augmentation . . . Breast reduction . . . Breast lift . . . Liposuction . . . Restylane and Hylaform treatments . . . Tummy tucks . . . Forehead and brow lifts . . .
On and on and on and on and on. Page after page after page after page of beautification services. Oh! And then there's the cell phone companies! Dozens after dozens after dozens of cellphone ads, many fullpage or doublepage. Just think: you could be chatting on your shiny new cellphone while you're sitting in traffic on the way to your mircrodermabrasion appointment!
Come Thursday, the words of your humble scribe will be tucked among these ads. How exactly my words will interest or intrigue readers so perpetually and desperately in need of facials, facelifts, and body modification, I don't know.
So how did this all come about?
2. The Offer
3. The Reaction
I asked for Jim Holman. The receptionist wanted to know what this was regarding. I told her I just a moment ago got this email from Mr. Holman saying he wanted to pay me for an article and I am calling to see if this is for real. She put me on hold and then sure enough, I was talking with Jim Holman.
4. The Deal.
So I thought, someone's willing to pay me $2000 for an 8000-word digest of a month's worth of this blog? Cool!
So I said yes.
He said, just do something like April 13th to May 13th, then send me something in mid-May and we'll see. I said ok and that was that.
My next thought was, BLOG IT! But then right after that I thought, nah, until I see the check, and until I see that this is for real, I'm gonna just forget about it and keep doing what I've always been doing with this blog.
5. From the 13th to the 13th.
Why am I doing this? Who bothers reading all this stuff anyway? I was in no mood to go back and select 8000 words' worth of blog material. Which words to select? Which ones to throw out? Ugh.
So I put it off. I was busy doing a startup company and this Reader thing was just not a priority. I wasn't in the mood to submit this stuff and get rejected anyway.
Days passed. I kept putting off submitting something to the editor.
Finally, early in the morning of the 18th I fired up Microsoft Word, fired up my browser, and copied and pasted 30 days' worth of blog stuff into a Word document. Of course, Word being Word, it was a nightmare: it was not easy getting all those images in, and it took a lot of time to place them in the text where they belonged. I was breaking one of the rules already: Holman's original email had explicitly stated, send the images separate from the text. Ugh. I was concerned the images would wind up detached from the blog entries they were originally connected to, so I just embedded them anyway. Anticipating that they might want them as separate files, I saved them all off in a directory.
I didn't even bother to edit the resulting Word document for typos. I was so sure this whole effort was for naught, I figured, why bother. What-ever, I thought. So I just saved the Word document, and sent Jim Holman an email with the Word file attached:
7. Didn't He Tell You?
I sent him an email suggesting he consider that story as well for the article. (Of course, if he accepted it, that would mean we'd be way over 8000 words, as that story alone was about 1300 words.)
An hour later, I got a terse reply: "Ok, thanks."
At this point I figured, ok, get back to work, forget this blog stuff, the Reader is never going to print this stuff. I mean, why would they?
But then an hour later, I got an email from Frank Glaser, the Art Director at the Reader, asking me to please send him all of the image files separately so that he won't have to try to extract them from the Word document.
Waitaminnit. The Art Director's involved now? Why would the Art Director get involved unless the editor had accepted the story?
I grabbed the phone and called Frank's number. I told him I'd just gotten his email, and I was wondering . . . did this mean Jim Holman had ok'd the article? Was I in?
"Didn't he tell you?" Frank asked me.
"Um, no!" I said.
I told him I'd call Jim directly and confirm. So I called Holman's extension, reached him, and sure enough, this was a go. He liked the material, was still fascinated with the whole blog phenomenon, and was going ahead with publishing it. He told me I'd be hearing from his managing editor and, he added, "I think they're already cutting the check".
8. The Check.
9. Shouldn't That Be Action?
I wrote back:
10. Curiouser and Curiouser
I'll post a photo of the cover on Thursday once the issue hits the newsstands. If anyone outside of the San Diego area wants me to send them a copy of this week's issue, email me at the address shown at the far bottom of this page (I'd ask that you pay for postage, but I'll be glad to pick up a copy and send it to you).
One other thing . . . Christian Crumlish asked me on The WELL if he could have the scoop to this story, and I gave it to him. Here's his writeup on the Reader deal.
June 06, 2004
Tragedy in Bird Rock(UPDATE) 16-yr-old Driver Dies in Mercedes As It Goes Over Cliff and Crashes on Rocks At Ocean
It happened around 630pm, right after dinner. We started to hear one of those big rescue choppers out over the ocean, along with sirens galore from police and rescue vehicles.
First thought: surfer or diver rescue.
Not this time.
We went and looked out back down to the ocean and we could see the helicopter slowly circling over Bird Rock neighborhood. Then, there were more and more sirens. This was something very unusual. More and more sirens kept arriving.
I drove down the hill to investigate. Large crowds, growing larger. The helicopter was very low. I noticed there was a rescuer precariously dangling from a cable underneath the helicopter.
It's difficult to see in the picture (all photos taken with cheesy wide-angle, low-resolution digital camera) but the helicopter was directly overhead and very close. There was a strong wind created by the downdraft of the chopper's blades.
Turns out someone driving a Mercedes drove down the Chelsea Place alley, which dead-ends right above the ocean, and apparently the car went through the dead-end, right over the cliff, smashed into a concrete level some 20-30 feet down, flipped over, landed on its roof, crushed roof, flipped again, and landed down on the rocks by the water.
Later I spotted an old neighbor friend who lives right near the site, and he had been one of the first on the scene. He told me all of the airbags had deployed i n the Mercedes (he said it was a year or two old -- a new model) and he said the recue worker dangling from the helicopter had yelled in code that the driver of the crashed vehicle didn't make it, which explained why the copter pulled the rescuer back up and then flew away.
I'll add a link from the San Diego news sites once they um, get some sort of story up online.
UPDATE -- The local TV news just came on and said there were FOUR people in the car --- apprently all young people. A 16-year-old girl was driving, and apparently she made a mistake and put the car into drive instead of reverse and drove through the dead-end fence and over the cliff. Apparently the three passengers were able to get out but the driver wasn't, and she didn't make it.
UPDATE II -- The San Diego Union finally has a story up on their site.
UPDATE III -- 9 June -- More details emerge on the accident and the 16-yr-old girl who died, in this San Diego Union story.
Internet FadsWave Magazine publishes a list of what it believes were the top 10 Internet fads.
I guess I'm not hip. I've only heard of 5 out of the 10.
June 05, 2004
DreamI had a dream. I was in a parking garage. It was way past midnight. Why I was there, I don't know. I think it had something to do with my having trouble writing a story for the blog. There I was, standing in the middle of the lower level of an empty, dimly-lit parking garage. Suddenly, I see a tiny light glow in the distance. A cigarrette burns. I walk over. It's Deep Throat.
Me: The story is dry. All I've got are pieces. I can't seem to figure out what the puzzle is supposed to look like. George Tenet resigns as the head of CIA, and says that he wants to spend more time with his family. I mean, it sounds like bullshit, I don't exactly believe that...
Deep Throat: No, heh, but it's touching. Forget the myths the media's created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.
Me: Rove's come in from the cold. Supposedly he's got a laywer with $25,000 in a brown paper bag.
Deep Throat: Follow the money.
Me: What do you mean? Where?
Deep Throat: Oh, I can't tell you that.
Me: But you could tell me that.
Deep Throat: No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just... follow the money.
Then I woke up.
June 04, 2004
Bradbury SchmadburyBoingBoing reports that Ray Bradbury has been quoted calling Michael Moore all sorts of nasty things for "stealing" Brabury's book's Fahrenheit 451 title and naming the movie Fahrenheit 9/11.
Well, well. What would Bradbury have to say about his own "theft" of Walt Whitman's poem verse, to name one of his stories? I Sing The Body Electric, published around 1969, is actually a name of a famous poem by Walt Whitman.
And don't forget Bradbury's story The Women, why, that's the same name as the 1939 George Cukor-directed comedy film starring Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer.
And then there's poor Shakespeare, who is owed mega-royalties for Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. That's a phrase right out of Act IV Scene 1 of a little ditty called Macbeth, maybe you've heard of it. Bradbury's hoping you haven't.
At least Moore had the courtesy to change the title a bit and add something original to it! Bradbury just went ahead and copied verbatim. He's got some explaining to do.
By the way, it took me 2 minutes to find these title "thefts". Imagine what I might find if I spent two hours.
June 03, 2004
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About La Jolla Real EstateEvery now and then I pick up one of those thick, heavy, glossy Dream Homes magazines that specialize is incredibly overpriced La Jolla, Del Mar, and Rancho Santa Fe homes. I read it mainly because of a lifelong fascination with architecture and design. But I also like to see what kinds of hyperbole the realtors are using this month.
What follows is a handy guide to translating La Jolla Realtorspeak into ordinary English (For those unfamiliar with the term, "scrape" means demolish or tear down; "scraper" means a house not worth remodeling. I first heard the term "scrape" used by a La Jolla realtor years ago.)
storybook setting --- definitely a scraper, but even scraping won't get rid of the neighbors' noisy kids
corner lot --- stunning, forever views of traffic violations
whimsical --- stinks of cats
remodeled --- couldn't afford to scrape the whole thing
charming --- rooms are tiny; 70-year old bathrooms
charmer --- see charming
storybook charmer --- all scraping will do is let you really see how small the lot is
absolutely charming --- city wouldn't permit a house to be built on such a tiny lot today.
all the charm of Old La Jolla --- great if you don't mind a) alleys, b) high-voltage power lines six feet from the bedroom window; c) tiny rooms
Old World charm --- see all the charm of Old La Jolla
price available on request --- if you have to ask, you can't afford it
cozy --- tiny, designed for hobbits
modern yet cozy --- perfect for those who imagine living on a small yacht
mountaintop villa --- pray we don't have another fire
light and airy --- noise from leafblowers during the day; major skunk situation during the night
huge lot --- mostly unusuable or condemned by the geologists
price reduced --- desperate to sell
new listing! --- just relisted after 91 days to fool the MLS!
gated --- frequent homeless / solicitor problems
fully gated --- constant homeless / solicitor problems
country living at its finest --- no DSL, cable TV iffy
location, location, location! --- lousy location
in the heart of the Village --- alley stinks of trash; what was that noise?
ideal for horses --- not humans
walk to shops, restaurants --- take the bus everywhere else, because parking's a bitch
swimming pool --- forget about doing laps
lap pool -- forget about swimming
community pool --- exhorbitant assessment fees; strong urine presence in water
vanishing-edge pool --- lot wasn't big enough for full-sized pool
infinity pool --- see vanishing-edge pool
bonus room --- don't tell the city, as there aren't any permits
shuffleboard court --- for when you miss your QE2 stateroom
hardwood floors --- in all the places you'd prefer carpeting
lush carpeting --- in all the places you'd prefer hardwood floors
build to suit --- sue to build
[any adjective] estate --- designed for old people
black-bottom pool --- conceals all the dead bugs, frogs, and leaves
Casa de [insert fancy Spanish plural noun] --- high maintenance home, expect to pay 4 servants with questionable INS clearances to run the place
usable lot --- no rake needed, just a broom
oversized lot --- house barely fits on lot
sought-after location --- sought after you scrape the place
backyard perfect for playing --- noisy neighbors
unsurpassed beach living --- really obnoxious neighbors
newly carpeted --- no lasting evidence of crime scene
newly painted --- in your least favorite color
perfect for entertaining --- as are all your neighbors' houses; you'll never sleep
unique Village property --- no parking
granite kitchen --- pretend you're Wilma Flintstone
Private Oasis --- constant plumbing and heating problems
classic 60's home --- nobody's bothered to scrape, the location is just too depressing
Olde [any proper noun] --- expensive
timeless beauty --- even the roaches are 50 years old
endless potential --- scrape it, sell it, let someone else build it
epitome of urban modern living --- high noise, high fees, high security, high surveillance, all that for what exactly?
endless opportunities --- see endless potential
well-maintained --- sellers did their own plumbing, heating, electrical work; buyer beware
exceptionally well-maintained --- sellers paid fly-by-night contractors to do the plumbing, heating, electrical work; buyer beware
ultra-contemporary --- no matter how much you spend on repairs, the roof continues to leak
garden of eden --- plentiful assortment of ants, roaches, and spiders
architecturally pleasing --- obstructed views, so entertain guests with the weird floorplan
renowned architect --- quirky, eccentric idiosyncracies throughout that will drive you mad
lovely downtown views --- beyond the power lines and telephone poles you can just make out some hazy semblance of a skyline
separate guest quarters --- great when mom and dad aren't talking anymore
Cape Cod-style --- frumpy, old-fashioned, ought to be scraped
expansive views --- way overpriced
complete with picket fence --- recently fumigated
whitewater views --- see and hear military helicopters up close
vintage La Jolla --- total scraper; you're a fool if you don't tear it down and start over
pride of ownership --- scrape it and start over ASAP
quiet elegance --- boring, generic extravagance, as opposed to something really unusual
pampered perfection ---see whimsical
gated entry --- lots of homeless and solicitors
mountaintop getaway --- no DSL or cable TV
direct oceanfront --- high-maintenance, moldy, drafty, and cold
completely furnished --- DEA foreclosure, must sell quickly
delightful cottage --- great if you're rich, deaf, and can't walk
one look says it all --- don't look
parklike setting --- no view; creepy neighbors; lots of skunks
fairytale home --- features rodents of unusual size
eat-in kitchen --- dining room's so ugly nobody wants to eat there
gourmet kitchen --- expensive, imported stainless steel appliances with features you'll never use because the manuals are all in German
wine cellar --- house smells of mildew
spacious --- small
large --- medium
huge --- not quite big enough
fountain --- rarely works; attracts animals
immaculate --- stains, cigarette burns in the carpet; toilet looks fine but don't dare flush it
bedrooms adorned with trompe l'oeil --- custom artwork by painters of Elvis-on-velvet paintings
Sub-Zero fridge --- it was either that or a pantry, so, no pantry
abundant fruit-bearing trees --- get used to Malathion
truly one of a kind --- only house at this address
high-tech "smart home" --- house is never dark at night, thanks to the 24/7 blue glow of digital clocks everywhere, all blinking "12:00"
steps to Village --- Be mindful of the crosswalks and watch out for the drivers and bicyclists running the red lights.
historic --- ought to be scraped, but the paperwork's gonna be hell
beachfront access --- finest raw sewage odor in town
paradise --- make sure to add in the $2400/yr in gardener's fees to maintain
resort living --- long drive to the grocery store
stunning masterpiece --- grotesquely overbuilt, with a price to match
dramatically perched --- house on stilts; pray we don't have a quake, fire, or strong wind
private lake --- don't empty it; you might not like what you find.
romantic --- interior design uses a lot of fabrics; start investing in HEPA filters
Tuscan [noun]; Tuscany --- hot as hell; expect huge A/C bill
land, land, land! --- see endless potential
built-in outdoor barbecue --- needs to be rebuilt unless you like rust in your food
sparkling bay views --- at least when the neighbor's RV isn't parked in their driveway
move-in condition --- needs extensive fumigation, painting, carpet cleaning
exceptional craftsmanship --- Louis the XIV would feel right at home. Will you?
gated community entrance --- your movements monitored 24/7 by moonlighting rent-a-cops
fabulous --- you'll spend a fortune undoing the ugly interior design
desirable area --- the truly wealthy wouldn't be caught dead living here
exudes elegance --- great if you're into mortuaries
dramatic views --- watch your neighbors feeding and fighting
spectaular ocean views --- until next January, when construction of that 30-ft-high monstrosity across the street is completed
forever views --- if you squint all day and night you might eventually see something interesting
elevator --- never works; steep stairs
peaceful setting --- high crime area
extensively renovated in [fib about the year] --- tenting wasn't enough to get rid of the termites
filled with surprises --- hard to find where anything is, including light switches
fit for a general --- ideal for banana republic dictators in exile
enormous marble master bath --- huge water bill
carefree living --- very high maintenance fees
circular driveway --- plenty of parking for the repair trucks
spectacular sunsets --- house overheats terribly every afternoon
1-car garage --- ideal for that Model T you bought back during the Great War
2-car garage --- wide enough but not long enough to fit the Hummer
3-car garage --- it'd fit the Hummer except there are three separate garage doors, so forget it
steps to ocean --- noisy skateboarders at all hours of the night
Bird Rock Gem --- lot so small, you can reach through your window to neighbor's kitchen when you need to borrow the ketchup
Lower Hermosa Jewel --- so close to your neighbor, you can hear their toilet flush
traditional home --- tiny bedrooms stink of cat urine
highly desirable --- half the houses in the neighborhood are for sale, something's wrong
lavishly designed --- abusrdly overdone production inside; Liberaci's spinning in his grave
built-in entertainment center --- no place to put your bigscreen TV because it won't fit
easy access to freeway --- noisy
canyon view --- coyotes howling all night long; rodents of unusual size; skunks galore
beach living without the crowd --- but with the rats
reflecting pond --- mosquito problem
vaulted ceilings --- leaky roofs
such a pleasure to show! --- Agent lives nearby, will be pestering you for years to come
beautiful English gardens --- major snail problem
brand new --- 1-2 years old
new --- 2-10 years old
like new --- 5-15 years old
newer --- it was "new" several years ago
large master bedroom --- other bedrooms aren't big enough for infants
jacuzzi bath --- leaks right down to the foundation, but you don't know about it yet
glass-walled --- no privacy, plus the additional $1000/yr to keep them clean, including scraping off the remains of the occasional bird collision
sellers will entertain offers between $X and $Y --- real value of the house is X minus twice the difference between Y and X, or X-2(Y-X). Example: "Sellers will entertain offers between $2,800,000 and $3,199,876" means you're a fool if you pay a dollar more than $2,000,248.
June 01, 2004
TechnonottiTechnorati claims that seven minutes after you blog something it shows up in their indexes as searchable. Oh yeah?
I'm not so sure. It's been a lot longer than seven minutes since yesterday's cicada story. I did a search for cicada, even a search for Drescher, and nothing related to the brianstorms.com blog shows up there. Miracle of miracles, if one searches for daily show reruns, Technorati does mention the brianstorms.com blog entry from May 27th. But Technorati says "Post created 2 days 15 hours 4 minutes ago" --- today is June 1st. Two days after 15 hours and 4 minutes ago was not May 27th.
What's up, Technorati?
UPDATE II. Now it is mentioned. Wait a sec. If you go to this page, and refresh your browser, you get different results every time. One time it might say that that boingboinbg page "has 5 links from 5 sources", then after a refresh it might say "has 3 links from 3 sources". Refresh again, "has 4 links from 4 sources". Sometimes brianstorms.com is listed, sometimes not. Sometimes it'll say "5 links from 5 sources" but only show three. Sometimes it'll say "has 2 links from 2 sources" but show five. Is this a bug? Am I missing something?
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