Dang paper is too powerful

I keep finding there are times that paper is a better technology. There’s no need to ask which app will handle where my creativity is going to go. Plain words? Bold, highlighting needed? Drawing? Worse yet.. a drawing in the middle of the words? Oh wait… where’s that phone… When I’m I go into idea/sketch mode, I often end up on paper.

Which is “wonderful” when I end up with three or 20 scraps of paper that have to be turned into a blog. Until someone wires paper to go straight into whatever I’m using to write and edit, I’ve been using two basic approaches. First, plain old typing (or today thumbing). Second, use the phone on my camera to take a picture of each piece of paper then open what I’m writing in (e.g. WordPress) on my phone and insert the whole batch. Simple, easy, done.

Thankful Tuesday

My wife and I now live on different continents because, believe it or not, that’s the shortest route to where we’re going. Right now, it means she lives west of Rotterdam in the Netherlands and I live in what is soon to be the greater Boulder-Denver-Colorado Springs area. She’s been here for a few weeks before she returns to the Netherlands so I’ve been on an un-announced vacation from posting.

I haven’t stopped coming up with ideas. I’ve scribbled down several great ones. But, I’m going with a simple one, thanks and peace to all of you through words to four:

@derickijohnson Dericki Johnson for the great comment I finally just approved and for reposting one of my articles:

To my friend Jer in Houston and Joe in Dallas, for sharing words. Know I’m there for both of you in and out of medical establishmentarianism even when I’m scarce on Facebook.

And to my wife, for believing in a way that makes everyone else crazy.

Scanning Station

Now, for something that will seem completely different because it looks, somehow, a little practical.

I used to use an all-in-one to scan stuff. And it always took up a huge amount of my time just to get the beast to work, use it (especially stuttering iiinn NNNammeeess wwwiiitthh a number keypad) and keeping the beast up to date and running.

Once I got a phone that was at least 12MP, I switched to using to using that as a scanner. “Installing software” is searching the app store for CamScanner. It’s the best free scanning app I’ve found and it runs on both iOS and Android. Now, naming is just as fast as thumbing a short tweet. I added a fold-up stand so the camera is instantly lined up with the document. And, for the final touch, an overhead light.

Scanning artsDFW with a Phone and fold-up scanner stand

Scanning artsDFW with a Phone and fold-up scanner stand

This is a first pass. I’ve learned to get something working well-enough and then constantly tweak it to work it better. The craftsmanship comes later. At this point, instead of sharing my first draft recipe, I’ll explain what’s behind each of the key choices I made.

If the light is even slightly uneven, the pictures give it away any so I hung the light (a cheap hardware store clamp light) overhead and put in a high wattage bulb to compensate for the angle.

I’ve never liked actually seeing the glowing bulbs, especially really bright ones, so I’ve angled the clamp light so the bulb can’t be seen while working (and, gravy, it can’t be seen from essentially everywhere else in the room).

Since three points define all surface in space, it’s hung with a triangular mount rigged up with a standard ceiling hook, some twine and the clamp that came with the light. The direction of the light is adjusted by turning the ceiling hook.

The power cord is routed out to a wall (a more finished solution than what I used is twist-tieing the cord to a screw set in the wall) and down to a powerstrip. “Setting up to scan” is tapping a power strip switch and putting the phone in the stand.

Just like the other things I make, this will never be finished unless I sell or gift it one. it will be changed and tuned and improved. What’s mattered and matters more than the specifics is the approach. It’s an approach that’s driven by the slow vibe, by focus on simplicity and by starting with what I have on hand. That’s easiest to illustrate with the materials here. The only thing that I purchased for this project was the fold-up scanner stand (maybe $12 on Amazon). The rest of the materials? Repurposed from years of stuff field deliveries.

Scanning Station: twine, ceiling hook, clamp-light, fold-up scanner stand

Scanning Station: twine, ceiling hook, clamp-light, fold-up scanner stand


an Open Letter to my Son

Today, my son tried on two of his mother’s dresses. It felt like he was expecting me to be shocked or turn judgemental. Why? On one level, it would take a whole lot more than a guy in a dress to surprise me. It’s not my job as a parent to be shocked or judgemental. In my experience, it’s really hard to be a good parent when ‘freaked out’ is how you’re acting. All a freaked-out parent can ever really say is BAD BAD BAD BAD. It doesn’t even work with dogs. Why do we think it can work with people?

Especially when, at the heart of things, he’s asking the quintessential human question: “who am I?” Sexuality is just part of that. The rest of us can share our journeys with him but, ultimately, my son has to answer the question himself. No one else’s words will ultimately ring true to him. It’s only when he understands enough to answer himself that words will really matter. And it’s only when it’s his answer that he will choose who becomes.

Happy Day formerly known as Columbus Day

In Grad School, we talked about Old Dead White Guys. It was short hand for the fact that the vast majority of books that we read were by  white males who were distinctly older when the author’s picture was taken and who, by the time most people read them, were dead. They were typically from the upper reaches of society in terms of wealth, power or connections. There’s an older more direct way to put it: the victors write the history.

There are many problems with this. Even the proverbial Capitalist Pig would pick up on the obvious: white males just are not that big a slice of humanity. There’s a reality gap here… Business opportunity! Everyone else missed it! Woot! And he would then rush off to plan his conglomerate’s next subsidiary.

In less greedy terms, the brilliance of the vast majority of humanity has, until relatively recently, been effectively invisible. When I went to school, the old story was still holding on: the heroic Christopher Columbus and the ensuing wars to defend white settlers against attacks by Indians. Christopher Columbus was the proto-American who raised a fortune in royal venture capital and came in peace to the new world and, before his company tragically failed, hosted the world’s first series of international trade exhibitions at the Spanish Court.

That story changes significantly when you look at from the other side. When Europeans arrived, governments and countries had existed in the Americas for more than a Millennia. The Americans connected the continent with trade routes: international trade, particularly in luxury items, was old hat. The same thing is clear in religion, astronomy and so on through many areas: the Americas developed societies and cultures comparable to those in every other part of the world.

Those who followed Columbus invaded, conquered and destroyed hundreds of countries; destroyed much of the knowledge and thought discovered and developed over millennia by those original Americans; and through disease and warfare killed almost all of the original Americans.

Because we now talk about both sides of the story of Europeans arriving in America, it’s certainly become unfashionable to celebrate Christopher Columbus. He’s come to symbolize what happens when we only care about the story the victors tell, how we forget the rest. It’s said that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. What happened in the Americas, is not some cultural equivalent of evolution through survival of the fittest. It’s the forgetting of art, thought, belief and very lives of the vanquished. There is no better way to guarantee history will not be known than to disappear it and destroy it. We discovered another part of our collective soul and then systematically destroyed it.

Christopher Columbus lead Europe into the Americas and we made him into the ultimate Old Dead White Guy. We even named a day after him. Perhaps, instead of forgetting him, we should remember him. He is the beginning of one the greatest examples of what we loose when everyone but the victor is disappeared, destroyed and forgotten.

Christopher Columbus is the ultimate accidental anti-hero. Instead of forgetting him from the holidays, we could tweak the name of the holiday. We need to a bit of anti-memorium and a hint of anti-lesson. We could do that just by adding to the name: Columbus was an Old Dead White Guy Day.

weren’t exactly Dog ate my Homework

There was an accounting snafu at my hosting company that took 4til7.com offline yesterday. After years of faultless hosting it’s a pretty minor hiccup. And just so, yesterday’s post is now today’s.

Buddhism says that everything is an illusion to which at least one man replied they were (still) really great noodles. Other people say the only meaning events and things have is that which we give them. If that’s true, why not reimagine the forces that shape our lives as a set of fields comparable of those of the fundamental forces of physics including gravity, electricity.
The first one I noticed is the Stuff Field. For a while we were so poor that at the end of every month, we waited for G*d to parachute in the rent. Even though we couldn’t pay for the bills and afford food, the stuff. still. just. showed. up. I don’t mean that people brought us stuff. I mean that it literally just showed up. Maybe it was abandoned, maybe it fell off a truck, maybe it appeared out of thin air. Things just appear in the living room, on the driveway, on the backporch, in the trunk. When I tell people that there is a Stuff Field in America, a field that just naturally pulls stuff to everyone who lives here, the recognition shows up on their faces and they start nodding.

Over the last few years, the assortment of stuff that the field has pushed at us has spread into every room in our house: drinking glasses, a push broom, some hand tools, recycling tubs, scrap lumber and on and on until it’s become a standard part of the flow of stuff that eventually passes on from us to others. The latest thing the stuff field has pushed at me is an aqua green women’s bike. After three days of walking out with my first cup of coffee to ponder its aqua green stuff-ness, I surrendered and rolled it on to the porch. It has, by the way, two flat tubes but is otherwise functional and looking to be adopted by someone who appreciates its particular stuff-y-ness.

My wife and I keep discussing this American Stuff Field. We both agree that the stuff field is (on one hand) completely made up idea, and (on the other) a poetic way to reslice some truth about living in America today out of the illusion. And, this poetic truth can be tested. Like a science theory, it’s a model and it makes a prediction about stuff just showing up in essentially inexplicable ways. Help me test my theory. If you can think of at least one notable item that has “just appeared” in your life, comment or tweet it with the hashtag #stuffField

Weblogging that’s not so Hopelessly ugly

Screenshot from 2015-10-13 09:38:044til7.com has existed, almost continuously, since the mid ’90s. I say “almost” because I forgot to renew one year. Records say the domain was created on 4 Sepember 2000 but that’s the second time the domain was created. I forgot to renew the domain. If that sounds weird on multiple levels, you’re right. Automatic reminders weren’t wired into the world yet. Unrenewed domains were not immediately scarfed up by domain squatter robots. We weblogged instead of blogged and the number of domains was in the hundreds of thousands instead of hundreds of millions.

Back then, young whipper snapper, real men hand-coded websites in html while trudging uphill through six feet of snow and fighting off raiders with muskets to the left of us. Then a few years later, we trudged uphill through more snow, migrated to php and bolted on CSS when rain didn’t kill the dialup connection while fighting off indians to the right of us.

By the time I recreated the registration, I had managed to do something that was and is very difficult to do: build a website around a black background that is beautiful, readable and unique. A few years ago, I finally broke down and migrated the whole thing to WordPress. And, oh boy, did that look refuse to migrate. I’d created something too unique. After I realized it was going to take a full, ground-up, redesign to make it work, I quickly put finishing the migration into backburner mode. Many moons have passed and 4til7.com has stayed in ugly mode.

’90s style “Under Construction” signs exhibiting the the frenetic epileptic motion typically of animated versions.

I could live with that until I began my escape from programming and cranked my posting back to it’s ’90s pace. It’s time to de-ugly the house. Doing this right will take some time, but I’ve started the process. I promise not to put a ’90s carton art yellow ‘under construction’ image up. Well, besides that one.

a Flash of Micropoems

Last night a flash of micropoems galloped through my head. A few of them:


prepare Kids for Life

even Monopoly can be
a Teachable Moment

1. Capitalism is Ruthless
2. do not mess with Mom



floatn Gauze

Frogsong baseline
Leaves rustlesweep
Windchimes waterfall

even cars
fear to break this

the Quiet is roaring



on hearing a Micropoem

she insisted

I paused


  the Wind said everything


#micropoetry microcurated 2: Wind|Spirit

A lot of interesting micropoetry is done by people who don’t have legions of followers. #micropoetry microcurated is drawn from their micropoetry. This is about finding micropoetry that’s interesting, great, fun, thoughtful or sometimes just plain delightfully strange.

Instead of assuming people without legions of followers are focused on finding this, I decided to reverse the usual formula and go find them.

And sometimes, it’s actually been surprisingly hard to connect with some of the authors. The first thing I picked for this issue actually a tweet pulled from the contents of a blog entry without any way to contact the original author. I’m going to gamble that most of these authors will get it.

Raise the black flag!

Ellusive gem of micropoetry! Cower before me for I am the Dread Pirate Roberts and you, micropoem, I am dragging you back kicking and screaming while I smile gallantly!


one lone cloud
a curl of duck-down
sails the lake

Jan Dobb


#haiku, from statuses of friends

Back to work today
I want to stay home and write
to the maple blues

Robyn MacKinnon  ‏@art_rat


The weather man
(having visions)
foretelling chances

which half of the sky
will rain this time?

Positively Wyrde  ‏@Wyrde


Humanity: Bored at breakfast!
G*d: Have smartphone

School closures not
Still bored

Tim 4til7 Wood   @4til7

Building the Ultimate Workspace

One meta office with divider: office desk on onside, tools on the other… the office equivalent of the commercial grade kitchens, often bigger than many actually commercial kitchens, in larger american homes.

Cross: simplifying: only things used every day on desk, used every week away but in reach, every month in a closet, less: gone. For me working from home, every week, I use my workspaces for paying bills, programming, managing my business, writing books, writing blog entries, social mediaing, publishing, studying, making things, writing poetry.

Do a little boiling. e.g. don’t tie things with no physical footprint to a physical workspace:

paying bills, programming, managing my business, writing books, writing blog entries, publishing, studying, making things, writing poetry

Group closely related and put them in order of “importance”:

  • x programming
  • x writing (books, blog entries, poetry)
  • ? publishing
  • x making things
  • x studying (mDiv)
  • ? managing my business, paying bills


More on simplifying… clear your workspace and bring things back when you need them, move them to drawers, closet, gone over time.


We are creatures of time & space… use that.