Friday, February 29, 2008

Amaryllis correction: Hippeastrum

My amaryllis series should be renamed.
Hippeastrum is a genus of about 70-75 species and 600+ hybrids and cultivars of bulbous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. Some species are grown for their large showy flowers. These plants are popularly but erroneously known as Amaryllis, an African genus in the same family.
from wikipedia

This was a busy week and even though I found out about this correction to be made on Tuesday, it has taken until now (Friday night) to sit and cover this in detail.

I had checked the spelling of amaryllis using Google but didn't follow any links until Karen commented that she had not known the name of the plant until she read about it here. I went checking to see if Australia was a good climate for it and found the picture on the Amaryllis entry not looking like the ones I had taken. As I read further I found about hippeastrum, followed that links and the picture there closely resembles what we had in the house.

Dolores did bring it back to school this week. It is also getting a third stem! I hope her kindergarten friend enjoy the explosive growth that it provides.

So anyway, long story short; it is a hippeastrum (not amaryllis).

Now I need to come up with another sherku for hippeastrum!

Berkman: Clay Shirky 2

Berkman: Clay Shirky 2, originally uploaded by shersteve.

This slide summarizes the steps up the ladder that Clay goes into detail about in his new book "Here Comes Everybody".

He identifies the internet as the 5th major technical advance. The first was the printing press; the second, radio; the third, the telephone; and the fourth, TV.

The internet enables sharing (email), conversation (blogs, et al), collaboration (wikis, Flickr, et al) and he thinks is just getting into collective action (flash mobs).

An interesting premise with lots of food for thought. I will have more on this as time permits.

Berkman: Clay Shirky

Berkman: Clay Shirky, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Clay Shirky spoke at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School last night as part of their Berkman @10 series of events open to the public. Berkman is celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year.

The photo depicts Clay at the podium queuing a slide for his presentation. Multiple attendees have their laptops open and operating. The one directly in front is open to the site just referenced by Clay as an example from his new book "Here Comes Everybody".

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Turning off anonymous comments

I have gone back and forth on this issue of anonymity a number of times in my own mind and after reading here, I have decided to remove anonymous comments from the various blogs I control. This change is effective 3/1/08.

This is not turning away conversation.

This is ensuring that the conversation is based in honesty and real identity.

It also helps that Google has enabled additional accounts to be used to comment.

If you have any issues with anonymity, you can email me (as you won't be able to comment) after March 1. Email to shersteve at gmail dot com

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rapid Fire Learning for February

Karen Wallace kicks off the Rapid Fire Learning for February over at the Joyful Jubilant Learning blog. He is my recall of what I learned this month:

1 - Immigrants come to Franklin, MA from a variety of places around the world and for a variety of reasons, most prominent amongst them being the quality of the school system. So why do we have such a problem getting funding for the schools? That is the subject for another discussion.

2 - What started as a project for Dolores' kindergarten friends became one for me as Dolores brought the amaryllis plant home as the Franklin schools were out on winter vacation this week. She took off for a well deserved break of her own leaving me to mind the plant. I became enchanted with the explosion of blossoms and took a daily photo to record the progress. For a few days, the amaryllis also inspired a sherku.

3 - The learning about embedded links in meme widgets continued this month as the article that Michael Pollitt was researching finally got published. I summarized the caution here,

4 - On my second visit to the library this week, I learned more about the history and happenings leading to and just following the Great Boston Molasses Flood in 1919. I had recently completed the book Dark Tide and learned that the anarchist in New England were quite active. Sacco and Venzetti are probably the most well-known. What I did know realized was that Sacco lived in Milford for 9 years. Milford is next door to Franklin. I will write more of the historical discussion that occurred on Thursday. The discussion helped me decide to choose Dark Tide as my entry for the Love Affair With Books.

5 - I helped at the registration desk at the NewBCamp08 held this past weekend on the Johnson & Wales campus in downtown Providence, RI. As a new event, it was a success. 50 of the 80-odd preregistrations showed up along with 20 walk-ins to give 70 folks the chance to learn and share information on blogging, podcasting, and new media in general. While I have read Chris Penn regularly, I got to see his updated intro to new media presentation. While I participated in the two previous PodCamp Bostons, I was unable to stay for the Saturday party. This time the schedule worked out for me and I got to hear Matthew Ebel perform his material for a free 90 minute show. More to come on this front but NewBCamp08 was a success and much credit goes to the lead organizer, Sara Streeter!

What did you learn during February?

Niagara Falls Photo Selected

You may recall Dolores and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls last August. One of my photos from that trip has been selected for the online version of the Schmap Guide. Cool!

Thank you!

You can find my photo in the guide. Look for one of Brock's Monument.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Amaryllis Sunday 2

Amaryllis Sunday 2, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The first stem with four blossoms is starting to lose one. The second stem has two full blossoms with two more coming out into the open.

Amaryllis Saturday 2

Amaryllis Saturday 2, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Only one more day of a daily photo from me. Dolores will take the flower pot back into school to let her kindergarten friends resume enjoying the explosion of blossoms that this plant has brought forth.

After Alice's Restaurant

One of our family Thanksgiving traditions is to listen to Arlo Guthries' Alice's Restaurant as we go to Dolores' mother's house for dinner. The Boston Globe today has a good article about Alice Brock who today makes her living in Provincetown.
Alice Brock, the Alice of ''Alice's Restaurant'' - the name of the Arlo Guthrie song (1966), the Arthur Penn movie (1969), and her own second restaurant, in Stockbridge. She lives and works as an artist in Provincetown, where she has a home full of books and art that she has collected over the years.
Read about the "real" Alice here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Amaryllis Friday

Amaryllis Friday, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Yes, it is snowing outside. The world in whitening again. Life is slowing down. The amaryllis is continuing to blossom.

I had missed counting blossoms the other day. The first stem has four flowers now. The second stem has one open and two in process of opening. Will there be a fourth?

Stay tuned.

BTW - here is the full series

Amaryllis Thursday

Amaryllis Thursday, originally uploaded by shersteve.

another in the series

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Amaryllis Series

The amaryllis series is a combination of photos per day with some sherku mixed in as the inspiration arrived.

Amaryllis - Saturday

Amaryllis - Sunday (sherku)

Amaryllis - Monday

Amaryllis - Tuesday

Amaryllis - Wednesday (sherku)

Amaryllis - Thursday

Amaryllis - Friday

Amaryllis - Saturday 2

Amaryllis - Sunday 2

Beware the meme

I have a new posting over on the Joyful Jubilant Learning blog about memes, those internet things that sometimes spread like wildfire.

You have my permission, encouragement even, to go check it out here.

All children need a laptop. Not a computer, but a human laptop

All children need a laptop. Not a computer, but a human laptop. Moms, Dads, Grannies and Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles – someone to hold them, read to them, teach them. Loved ones who will embrace them and pass on the experience, rituals and knowledge of a hundred previous generations. Loved ones who will pass to the next generation their expectations of them, their hopes, and their dreams.
General Colin L. Powell (Founder, America’s Promise the Alliance for Youth)

via Rosa Say & Dean Boyer at The Teaching with Aloha Blog

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Franklin_BigBirds, originally uploaded by shersteve.

yes, those big birds around the feeders are wild turkeys. The lot of them strolled through the yard Sunday afternoon.

Amaryllis - Monday

Amaryllis - Monday, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The blossoming amaryllis on Monday.
A new day. Its new blossom stretches further into the open.

Video Contrasts: Hillary vs. Obama (D Patrick steps in)

Very interesting video mashup by Steve Garfield. I recall the original speech by Deval Patrick. It was a moving one. The contrast with Hillary's is startling.

Nice work Steve!

Food for thought hey?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Amaryllis - Saturday

Amaryllis - Saturday, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Dolores and her kindergarten friends were growing this amaryllis plant at Oak St School. She brought it home so we could tend to it rather than leave it at school during school break this week.

This is a good plant to use with a classroom of kindergarteners. The plant grows so quickly. It came home with the two blooms pictured here. It has already added a third. The stem in the background is also starting to show flower color as it begins to expand.

Such a lovely color for a dreary, raining mid-winter day.

Check out Amaryllis Sunday

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What is a sherku?

The concept/idea for sherku came to fruition during the 2006 Dodge Poetry Festival at Waterloo Village. There were multiple threads that managed to weave themselves together during those four eventful days.

I knew Patti Digh had done book reviews in haiku. One of my favorite writers, she is a great writing inspiration. She was unable to attend the Festival but was on my mind as I looked for an opportunity to obtain an autograph from Billy Collins for her. Fortunately, I did manage to do that and she was most pleased.

Billy Collins told the story of his creation of a new type of poem, the paradelle. It was done in fun as a parody of the villanelle and when published referenced a note giving it "some historical authenticity". Billy was surprised when some time later, he got a call from someone looking to put together an anthology of paradelles.

As a blogger, one of the early lessons I had picked up along the way was to find a term that defined you, that you could own. This term could help drive the search engines your way. I have struggled with this effort to define the singular me. What would that word be? Steve's 2 Cents reflected 'the value add' I attempt to apply. What could I do with that?

During the Festival, I met and had a wonderful talk with the wandering poet, Edmund Charles Baranowski. He had challenged me during the discussion to recite a poem that I knew by heart. I did manage to recall one of my originals (Orange numbers). When I met up with him the next day I surprised him with a sherku that I had written for him.

Yes, sometime during that day, after the talk with Edmund, it all came together. The festival music had something to do with it.

Then I tried explaining what a sherku was. I started with:

What is sherku?
A new variation on haiku.

Why a new variation?
Hey, why not. I just took the classical form of haiku and made it my own.

What do you mean to accomplish?
Writing on difficult things by focusing, by boiling down to the essence of the fewest words.

What is so different from haiku?
There are conventions that haiku follow, I will deviate as necessary.

So what will you write about?
Well, sherku will be the catchall. My running will be ruku. My work related will be busku. My educational will be edku. My hitchhiking will be hitchku. And there may be other variations on this but I think you get the idea.

I think you are crazy.
You are entitled to your opinion.

Do you have any written yet?
Yes. One, two, three.

While the extensions (booku, ruku, edku, etc.) sounded like fun... I did not proceed that way. The singularity of sherku was going to be what I needed.

I expanded the explanation to:

I introduced sherku earlier and need to respond to an inquiring mind. Instead of burying my response in a comment (which I did) I also decided that there might be value to put it out in the open as well.

The question was:
Well, I'm not good at poetry. Not to mention haiku. But, really, will you write more in-depth about this sherku of yours -- and how it related with haiku -- for a very novice kinda guy? I'd like to learn about it.

The initial answer is:
Well, it is somewhat "tongue in cheek" but very much like haiku. It differs in that is my spin on creation. I add my "2 cents worth" to it. I follow the standard form and convention somewhat and deviate as necessary.

For example, while convention calls for 17 syllables, I prefer to recommend 19.
Why 19?
Well, 17 is confining, 19 provides more (recall 2 cents). 19 is also a number from a card game called "Cribbage" where 19 is an impossible score to achieve.

Trying to condense a feeling, an image to some number (19 in this case) is an impossible task (recall Cribbage score) to try but try we must.

Or as Yoda says: "Do, or not do, there is no 'try'".

I then created some instructions:

Sherku Instructions

It is easy enough to start
You are out somewhere
Wherever something catches your eye
You take a picture
Frame it in your mind’s eye
Then begin the
Linguistic gymnastics
You have trained for since birth
Take your pen
Dip it into the dictionary
Find the word
Just that shade
Just that luster
Just that sound
So that when they open the book
Turn to this page
Read these words aloud
They step into the frame
Feel the breeze on their arm
In the shade of the hemlock grove
Hear the hissing along the trail
And stop
To see the snapping turtle

I defined sherku in sherku format:

seventeen is not enough but
two more makes nineteen
still an impossible goal

and then most recently:

focus your writing, say it
all concentrated in just
nineteen syllables

You can find my sherku and other poetry at quiet poet

Saturday, February 16, 2008


No, that is not a security code nor is that an insult. It the abbreviation for a special weekend event coming in May.

Where you might ask?


Have you ever been to Chicago, that is one big city. Where abouts?

Not sure, the web site doesn't say. I heard through the grapevine that it is supposed to be at a hotel somewhere near the airport.

So they have registration open for an event but haven't said where? Are you sure you want to go?

Yes, they are calling it the Biz School for Bloggers.

But you don't do business on your blogs?

No, that is true. There are several folks that I have blogged with that I want to meet and they will be there.

They must be pretty important folks to go all that way and not know where you are going?

Yes, they are! Some will be traveling further than I. It shouldn't really matter knowing where to go as long as you feel confident that you can handle the road there!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Conversations threads

Some times blog posts go out into the www ether and just sit there. You hardly know if someone has read them or not. The statistics don't always tell the whole story.

And then there are blog posts that generate conversation. Conversation that deepens the original writing. Conversation that weaves other thought threads together in a new tapestry, or new shades of light.

One of the best conversations I had online was over the course of a few days last year when I participated in the Love Affair With Books on the Joyful Jubilant Learning blog.

Yes, it is a mouthful and deliberately so. The folks that congregate there do LOVE books, and LOVE talking about books even more so.

Need an example?

Check out How to Read an Unfinished Book.

And if you really want, go back into the archives to find my favorite conversation on This is Your Brain on Music.

Oh, yes.
returns next month!

Monday, February 11, 2008

NewBCamp 2008

Hello World!

This is the announcement for NewBCamp 2008, which is being held from 9:00am - 4:00pm on February 23, 2008 in Providence, RI.

You are invited to use the 'Registration' button to RSVP for the event.

The Details:
  • Saturday, February 23, 2008 from 9am to 4pm in Providence, RI
  • Xavier Building on the Johnson & Wales campus
    259 Pine Street
    Providence, Rhode Island 02903
  • After Party at AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence from 5 PM - 7 PM


If you're looking to get the flyer for NewBCamp, here's a link to the PDF,

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lessons of shadows and light

My contribution to February's discovery of what we can learn from a book has been posted to the Joyful Jubilant Learning blog.

You have my permission, indeed encouragement to click on over to check it out. You can also linger there amongst some other really good posts on books and learning.

This is all a warm up for our annual Love Affair with Books. Last March, 35 books were reviewed by 24 people all interested in learning and sharing.

Rosa Say wrote in the kick off post for February:
By the way, if you would like to contribute your own story and answer the question, email it to our Community mailbox: We would love to publish it for you. And start reading and writing your own book reviews... you can participate in A Love Affair with Books in March too! Watch for that shout-out near month's end.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

"About a dream" - Steve Forbert


Dogs chase cars and men chase dreams
And the dog is the more practical it seems
But a dream can help a person to get up and out of bed
And for this I’d say there’s certainly still a lot that can be said

About a dream – up in your mind
Something you wish – hoping to find
About a dream – something you want
Maybe you need – maybe you don’t
About a dream, dream

(Well) Seeds takes root but fruit takes time
And a dream can’t grow if it dies on the vine
So you gotta keep it goin’ with a steady ray of sun
And a daily drop of rain and you could well get something done


All in favor say, "yeah"
All in favor say, "fine"
Take your dream anywhere
It’s all in your mind

Well you chase yours and I’ll chase mine
And I hope our dreams will meet up on the boulevard sometime
And I hope we’ll both be happy if the dreams we dream come true
And I hope as well we don’t just wind up bitter sad and blue


Lyrcis from Steve Forbert's website

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Franklin Line Signal Map - MBTA

The MBTA has a 1 MB PDF version of this map on their website that takes some time to down load on the new WiFi connection.

This is a 74 KB version of the same map.

Do you think this would be quicker to download?

As I read some of the "fine print" Frequently Asked Questions these jump out:

Q: Does T Wi-Fi Commuter Rail Connect offer virus protection and security?
A: No, we do not. It is the customer′s responsibility to prepare a laptop or wireless internet device for secure internet usage. The MBTA is not responsible for any damages or security breaches.

Q: Can I download large files?
A: We recommend that you use T Wi-Fi Commuter Rail Connect for simple web services. Downloading or emailing large file attachments may result in the loss of the file.

Communter Rail WiFi

Yes, I had heard it was coming and was disappointed to see that the Worcester/Framingham Line was getting it first but lucked out yesterday and today by catching a train with one of the pilot cars on the Franklin Line.

Connection was easy.

Connection speed is okay (better today than yesterday).

I wouldn't count on downloading anything of significant size.

The T should also reconsider the accessiblity of their own website. They have posted maps perporting to show the WiFi coverage for each line. I tried opening one yesterday and one stop later gave up. I'll go back some time to see (on a real good connection) just how large the file is. I don't dare waste any more time on this connection.

I was in the main car on the train yesterday and had an "Excellent" connection (Microsoft terms). I was one car in front of the pilot car today and had a "Very Good" connection.

The connection both times was reported to be 11Mbps. The connection was similar to a real good dial up and okay for text emails. Anything with heavy graphics (are you listening T!) takes time, more so than on a regular cable connection.

For a free service, occaisional access to email will be helpful and beneficial. I won't plan on getting any real work done at this connection strength.

Oh, and to confirm, this was composed and posted on the train. Wow!

Note: for some reason the spell check is failing on this connection. I'll come back with my normal connection and fix any I miss now.

Monday, February 04, 2008

"Middle Age" - Steve Forbert


Middle age is diff'rent,
Now you're someone else;
Now you've got some sense
Of how much time perhaps is left.

Middle age is central,
Now you tend to know
Not just where it's been you've been,
But where you'll likely go.

Middle age, middle age, I say,
In a new, older now, later stage.

Middle age is clearer,
Now it dawns on you;
Now you hafta laugh at what you
Used to think you knew.

Middle age is cloudy,
Rain or sleet or snow?
Don't you wish you knew those things,
In fact, you once did know?

Repeat chorus

Here's your middle age years
Here's your middle age years.

Middle age is hectic,
Much less time for fun;
Clearly it's a good thing youth is
Wasted on the young.

Repeat chorus

Middle age is telling,
Now you see it's so;
All those old, gray people aren't to
Blame for being slow.

Middle age is further,
Closer to the end;
This will be as young as you will
Ever be again.

Middle age, middle age , I say,
In a new, older now, later stage;
Middle age, middle age, I say,
Call it half by the best you can gauge,
Middle age.

Here's your middle age years,
Here's your middle age years,
Here's your middle age years,
Here's your middle age years.

Lyrics from Steve Forbert's website

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Steve Forbert in concert

Got to experience Steve Forbert in concert last night at The Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN). A good size place for this intimate concert. Steve was in good form. Most of the audience served as the chorus on queue by chiming in on various songs.

This YouTube sample of two songs is a good representation:


Boston Gobe recognizes the Palmer House Inn, Falmouth

You may recall that Dolores and I have had a couple of pleasant weekend stays at the Palmer House Inn, Falmouth. Both times we went in August for the dual purpose of celebrating our anniversary, and to allow me to run the Falmouth Road Race.

My summary for the weekend in 2006 can be found here. (I started writing online in September 2005, after we were there, so that is not available.)

The Ellen Albanese, writer for the Globe says, in part:
The best part of visiting a bed-and-breakfast is the personal touch, the knowledge that you are staying in a place that is, if not the actual residence of the innkeepers, at least a home they have chosen to treat as their own.

In such a place, you feel more like a guest than a customer, and that's just how we felt at the Palmer House Inn. Pat and Bill O'Connell were consummate hosts, greeting us warmly, giving an unhurried tour of the 1901 main house, asking questions about dietary restrictions and coffee preferences, offering to bring ice to our room. They managed to make us feel that nothing was more important to them than our comfort.

The inn is an imposing Queen Anne-style Victorian at the edge of Falmouth's historic, shop- and restaurant-filled downtown, which makes it central but quiet. There are 12 rooms in the main house, four in the guest house (including a handicapped-accessible room), and a two-bedroom cottage.

Read the remainder here.

The Palmer House Inn website.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Beatles go into outer space

On Monday, NASA will beam The Beatles' "Across the Universe" into the heavens, using its Deep Space Network of antennas, which is ordinarily dedicated to functions such as radioastronomy observations, or communicating with distant interplanetary probes.


The occasion is a string of anniversaries: NASA's 50th year in space, the founding 45 years ago of NASA's Deep Space Network of antennae, and not least, the 40th anniversary of the recording of "Across the Universe." Feb. 4 has apparently been declared "Across the Universe Day," and the general public is invited to play the song at the same time (7 pm EST) that it is being beamed into space.
More on this can be found here.

The lyrics to the Beatles song can be found here.

Fiona Apple does her cover of this with a video on YouTube:

Does anyone appreciate the irony of choosing this song to send to outer space?