Archive for the ‘trains’ Category

Nathaniel Talbott is really rocking my world with his recent essay comparing the transcontinental railroad with the ruby-on-rails phenomenon. As he points out, there are some surprising similarities in enabling markets and disintermediation– the physical railroad opened up new territories and new markets, and the rapid development cycle of ROR is enabling software customization of previously unaffordable (in time or money) types.

They [the co-op members trying to use a wacky uber-customized spreadsheet macro that breaks when you look at it cross-eyed] have little to no means of affecting the software that they use, and no real choices to use something else. And there are literally millions of others like them out there—small business owners, hobbyists, clubs, families and civic groups. But that’s the other, more profound thing that I think is changing and will greatly change how our kids think about software—one day we’ll look around and see everybody commissioning software, not just people with lots of money or people who can do it themselves. Tickets to the interior are suddenly affordable, and everybody’s buying one.

Everybody wins. Cool stuff happens. Ma and Pa Kettle can get custom software written affordably while GoogroSoft is still polishing paisleys on monolithic software applications.

OK, that last one is a bit Strata-filtered, but you know what I mean. Go read it, and if you’re not familiar with some of the background, such as the original Long Tail essay, NT is a nice guy and scattered links throughout his essay back to some of the prequel material.

Why, you may ask, is this tagged for sustainability? Because, in my opinion, the cottage-industry model of programming offers a lot of options in that area: telecommuting, bespoke efficiencies, disintermediated access to change, etc.


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I took the train to Seattle. I arrived 5 hours late. I didn’t care– it let me nap, as I had a roomette. I thought I’d stay at a hostel, as we were arriving after 1am, but my friend had decided to take the next day off, and was there at the station to meet me. That felt really good.

<lj-cut text=”…then, I got a job, keeping kids from hanging out in front of the drugstore…”
I didn’t go out and see sights, like I planned. I just mellowed out, helping with some stuff at her house, and beating the heat every couple of hours by (literally!) chilling out in the basement den on a comfy couch with a book. It was great.

I missed my departing train, and got a little stressed about it, but found a nearby coffeeshop and ate lunch and read the local papers. My laptop wifi is broken; I need to put on a new hex crimp connector, or get an external one, so I stayed off the net. It was great. My friend finished her appointments and then rang me up on the cell, so I went back to the station and chatted with her a while, then changed my ticket from Portland to Eugene. I had been going to pick up a rental car in Portland and drive to Eugene, but I’d be getting in after they closed, so I figured I’d get to Eugene at least.

Car rentals in Eugene are pretty expensive, and while the airport ones are open until midnight, they have an extra fee and were also out of economy and compact cars. I’d also not been able to find my tent when packing, so camping at the Country Faire was going to be interesting. A girl with a bike was getting a van-cab at the Amtrak station as I was making phone calls about cars. She was staying at a local youth hostel, Whitaker, and gave me the number. I called and got their last bed for the night, and shared the cab ride, just a couple of dollars. I’m loving talking with folks here; planted some kabocha for them after getting a garden tour from the owner, who said he’d love some.

I’ve been walking around the corner to the bus that goes downtown, and took the free shuttle to the Faire from downtown Saturday and Sunday. At the bus stop, one of the folks had a lot of camping gear, and I asked where he was staying. He didn’t actually have a place yet, and was concerned about that, so I gifted him my reservation at Quiet Campground. He was really happy about that! I ran into him later in the Faire, and he’d found a nice tree and was a Happy Camper. 🙂

I had a great time, though my feet are sore! Met some great folks in the local permaculture and cohousing communities. Gave out lots of kabocha and indian corn seeds, and found out there are several women around the northwest independently promoting seed saving (and sharing!) as a form of eco-activism. I’m thrilled! I feel like I am discovering a community. And yeah, it’s a hippiechick kind of community of witchy fat ladies who garden and wear weird clothes and don’t care what folks think, but as much as I try to fit in elsewhere, it’s more like a me place than many others. Can take the gal out of the country and all.

The summer heat didn’t destroy me, I was actually pretty comfy and danced at Main Stage, drank lots and lots of water. I think summer destruction for me has been about incorrect thyroid and diabetes control– I handled Burning Man just fine this past year, and am comfy at home into the high 70’s and low 80’s as long as I’m in the shade and in shorts and tanktop. I was going to go out to Cougar today, but don’t feel like driving. Might still rent a car and do it tomorrow. I’ve been online for several hours now, and while I’m not caught up, I’m just done with it. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, and it might be cool to be in a hotspring under July rain. Mike is driving up Thursday afternoon, and we’re going to have a little vacationy thing, maybe looking at land.

Hugs and Love, folks, back to mellow quiet. Times are a-changing, and who knows how? Maybe not me.

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I’m cashing in some Amtrak miles and taking the Coast Starlight up to Seattle to visit friends there, arriving sometime Friday night late. Scheduled arrival is about 9pm, but this is the Coast Starlight we’re talking, and on-time is not it’s middle name.

I’ll be in Seattle most of the following week, heading down to Portland or Eugene on the Cascadian for the following week– the order depends on when my friends in Eugene are going to be in town vs travelling.

Good eats, live music, hot springs, hanging out, planting gardens, touring gardens, and general misbehaving. Drop me a note and suggest something!

My don’t miss list:

In Portland, of course Powell’s, Rimsky Korsakoffee’s, Cedar’s, the Rose Gardens, Saturday market, and Voodoo Donut.

In Seattle, of course Teahouse Kuan Yin, Pike’s Place, the Pink Door, the Ballard Locks, the International District, odd little bookstores on Yesler, the ‘Spot, and Toys in Babeland. Maybe a run out to Baker hot springs and some live music at the Tractor, if it’s still there.

Renting a car in Portland so I can go visit Cougar hot springs and look at land along the outskirts of the Willamette Valley. Maybe finally make it out to Mackenzie River springs as well.

I still have lots of miles after that. Hmm. 😀

Oh yeah, and I am going to try to do some book-signing while I’m up there, if the darn thing is finally shipping by then!

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