Callie A few months ago I posted about our cat Bailey, who had passed away after 14 years. It was pretty sad around here since Terri and I had grown so attached to him. Our household seemed to revolve around him. Shortly after that, our veterinarian told us about a local cat whose owner could no longer take care of her and encouraged us to take a look and see if we wanted to adopt her. After a string of 3 male orange tabbies, I guess we were ready for a change. Now that we’ve had a chance to get to know her, she’s becoming like a new family member. Technically, she’s a tortoise-shell cat, but her previous owner called her ‘Calico’, which isn’t really correct, since a Calico cat has some white spots along with the dark and orange, whereas a tortoise shell is all dark. But it would be cruel to change her name after she’s had it for 9 years for a simple technicality. We just call her Cali and it fits her.

When we first brought her home, she hid in the basement under the basement steps and seemed somewhat afraid of us. I suppose that being taken from her familiar environment scared her a bit. We began to wonder if we were going to have one of those cats you only know of because of the missing cat food. But now she’s gotten to know us and goes wherever she wants and no longer hides in the basement. She follows us around everywhere we go.

An essential duty for any cat in this household is to be a good mouser. Terri doesn’t like mice and will scream at the top of her lungs if she sees one, especially if it’s alive. So it was quite gratifying to know that this new cat will catch, kill, and eat the little monsters. We let her in the garage where some mice have taken up residence thanks in part to an ample supply of birdseed that they like as much as the birds do. The birdseed is there to feed the birds that visit the feeder outside our window. The birdfeeder is really there to entertain the cat. So there’s a certain symmetry to this whole food chain that all stems from a desire to entertain cats and make sure they don’t get bored.

Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, once remarked on a Podcast that his blog used to be really lame where he’d write about his cat or what he had for dinner, so it’s not that I don’t know writing about one’s cat is lame, it’s just that with a blog you can do whatever you want and, if I want to write about my cat, I’m going to do it. With a blog, one day you’re a tech industry pundit, the next you’re baring your soul, or at least disclosing personal information about your pets. And that’s what makes a blog personal.

But I’ll refrain from writing about what I had for dinner…

Web 2.0


I’ve been hearing a lot about Web 2.0 lately and was wondering exactly what is meant by the term. Wikipedia, itself a Web 2.0 concept, has the following definition:

  • a transition of websites from isolated information silos to sources of content and functionality, thus becoming a computing platform serving web applications to end users.
  • a social phenomenon referring to an approach to creating and distributing Web content itself, characterised by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share and re-use, and “the market as a conversation.”
  • a more organized and categorized content, with a more developed deeplinking web architecture.
  • a shift in economic value of the web, up past a trillion dollars surpassing that of the dot com boom of the late 1990s.

However, a consensus upon its exact meaning has not yet been reached.

Tim O’Reilly wrote what is considered a seminal piece on Web 2.0, but even after reading it twice, it’s still difficult to articulate exactly what makes something a Web 2.0 vs. Web 1.0 concept. According to O’Reilly, things like blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, and Flickr are examples of Web 2.0 concepts.

One of the common underlying themes I’ve noticed is that the technologies associated with Web 2.0 are open and free. They don’t rely on proprietary software. In the event that they are web-based, they either don’t have an obvious business model (like Wikipedia, for example) or they have a lightweight advertising subsidized model that seems reasonable to most people. You wouldn’t think a Web 2.0 application would lock-in users, but some of the services seem like they are handing out free drugs with a future expectation of a creating dependent addicts who will begin to pay once the freebies run out. In most cases that I know of, when a free service suddenly is no longer free, it creates a mass exodus toward a new free service which users expect to remain free forever. Any service that costs money to run will eventually have to pass those costs on to someone, and the users of the service seem like the most likely candidates. You can write software and give it away for free, but when there are servers humming away consuming power and bandwidth, there is no end to the accumulating costs and so eventually the piper will have to be paid.

It will be interesting to see how Web 2.0 unfolds. According to Tim Berners-Lee, who just started his own blog, Web 2.0 is much closer to what he expected of the web in the first place.

Bailey, the world’s greatest cat


Lee, Terri, and BaileyWe had a very sad weekend. We had to have our cat, Bailey, put to sleep. He was suffering for the past year from cancer and his eye and face were being eaten away. He was gradually getting worse to the point where it was causing him a lot of pain and discomfort. We had tried all the possible cures for it, but nothing worked. So after 14 years on this earthly plane, Bailey is now chasing mice in heaven.

It’s amazing how big a part of one’s life a cat can become. There are so many reminders around the house of him. His bed, toys, dishes, favorite places to sit and look out the window… The house feels so different without him.

Bailey relaxing in his bed
We first found Bailey at a cat shelter in Oxford, PA. We had picked up a cat there earlier which we named Spencer, after Spencer F. Katt from PC Week because he looked just like the image of Spencer’s son Cal. I sent the column’s author an email and he wrote about it in the December 7th, 1992 column which I’ve inlcuded below.

Rumor Central Column from December 7, 1992

Terri thought that Spencer was lonely and needed a friend, so we picked up another cat from the shelter named Bailey. Unfortunately, Spencer wasn’t long for the world and he died only about 6 months after we had him, but Bailey kept us company for the next 13 years. He was a very friendly cat, willing to jump up on a stranger’s lap, cuddle up and begin to purr so loudly, you could hear him in the next room. He loved to chase after birds and kept mice away from the house, which was the only job he had beside being cute and cuddling up in Terri’s lap. We’re really going to miss him now that he’s gone.

Mary and Bailey

Bailey cuddling with my mom, while she nods off on our couch.

Napoleon Dynamite


I saw the movie Napoleon Dynamite a few months ago, and I’ve been hearing snippets of it and references to it ever since. It’s a wierd movie and the main character is extremely quirky, yet not as quirky as the rest of the characters, which makes him somewhat sympathetic. I’m pretty sure that it’s the only movie to spawn a legislative bill. While watching the movie, I realized that I have met a few people who were exactly like the main character. I’m talking about people with the same look, same hair, EXACTLY the same speech patterns, and, of course, the same attitude. The first time was when I was at Penn State. The went by the nickname ‘Milt’. Milt liked punk rock, especially the Clash, and thought that they would eventually be recognized as the greatest band in the history of the planet. I am not sure anything like that is likely to happen in my lifetime…at least I would hope not.

The second Napolean Dynamite-like character I met was a dude shortly after I started working in Greeley, CO. Again, same blonde ‘fro, same mumbly speech pattern, etc., it’s almost like these guys were the result of the same alien spore. I once drove down to Mardi Gras with him and a friend and we stayed at his sister’s place along with about 20 other people and a large number of dogs and cats sleeping on a wooden floor in several inches of dust. It was a weekend to remember… but not an event I’d care to repeat.

I’m not sure why I’m even posting about this, other than perhaps to have someone wander across it and let me know that they know that they also have Napoleon Dynamite character in their past and were thinking the same thing as me when they were watching that movie :-). I can’t help but imagine that the character was based on someone the writers knew personally.

And if you’ve seen the movie, then you may just want to learn to dance like Napoleon. It seems to be a popular goal for several hundred people registered on 43 things.

Update: Shortly after posting this entry, I got an email from a long lost friend from high school who directed me to this top 10 list from David Letterman read by Napoleon Dynamite himself. It’s a classic!