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Quonset huts

Quonset huts

“Hey man, what are we doing out here?”

“You can’t go home again…”

“What?”

“I said ‘You can’t go home again.’”

“I thought you hated that guy.”

“Who?”

“Thomas Wolfe. The guy you’re named after. Remember?”

“I do hate him. His prose is overly descriptive and stilted. And it doesn’t help that I was forced to read all of his books in my teenage years.”

“Then why’d you just quote him?”

“Say what now?”

“You just quoted Thomas Wolfe. You just said ‘You can’t go home again.’ Thats a Thomas Wolfe book.”

“I… shit.”

“You’ve been acting really weird tonight, TW. So why are we out here, at the quonset huts?”

“Whats a quonset hut?”

“They’re.. these thingers” Eliot points at the prefabricated steel buildings just on the other side of the fence. “They built a lot of them during World War II. They were cheap and easy to put up. Now they’re good for cheap and easy storage spaces.”

“Oh. Right. I like them. And I like what happens here at night.”

“There’s something that happens here at night?”

“Just watch.”

As Eliot and TW watch, a man walks up to the hut. His blue jumpsuit is stained, perhaps with oil. He unlocks the door and walks in. A few minutes later, he returns, locks the door, and leaves.

“What did he do in there?”

“I have no idea. But he does it ever night. Every night between 11:31 and 11:37pm.”

“How many times have you watched him, TW?”

“For the last two weeks.”

“Why?”

“I like to imagine what he’s doing in there, what brings him here every night.”

“What do you think he does in there?”

“Oh, I don’t try to think of what he’s actually doing. I make wild imaginings of things he could in no way be possibly doing.”

“Come on, TW. Lets go back to the apartment.”

Craziness

Franklin Street

People climbing up the support wires to get on top of the crosswalk lights. This was the scene Monday night at the intersection of Franklin Street and Columbia Street in Chapel Hill, NC. The UNC men’s basketball team had just won the NCAA tournament, and around 40,000 people took to the streets to celebrate. After going to William and Mary for four years, this was a completely different atmosphere. People were lighting bonfires in the middle of the street, climbing up light poles, tearing street signs off and then crowdsufing on top them of them through the crowd. I saw someone who brought a plastic Santa through it on the fire as well. The student newspaper ran a story about burn victims from the 2005 celebration, and the comments were mostly “jumping over the bonfires is tradition!” Its fun to be a part of a community that cares this much about something. And while it is “just basketball,” it has really brought the campus and the town together.

An old photo that I love

Back Bay, Mumbai

This is an old picture that I love, from when I went to India for 6 weeks for a study abroad over the summer of 2007. It was a great experience, and I would love to go back to India. We took a weekend trip to Mumbai, and this is a picture from the Chowpatty beach over the Back Bay. We actually stayed near the Taj Mahal hotel that was attacked earlier this year. This is also the first picture that I’ve properly set up to be hosted on flickr. I’ve done this for multiple reasons: firstly, because hosting these pictures on my own home webserver would clobber my bandwith if I ever get to even like 5 readers a day. Having flickr take the bandwith hit for all of the images will let me get up to like 10 hits a day before my server dies. I’ve also decided to get into something that a lot of archivists have been into recently. And honestly, I think its a way better photo hosting solution than facebook, especially the flickr pro (which I’m probably going to sign up for something soon.). In flickr, you get to keep copyright control over your images; I’ve decided to make them available under the same license that my written work on this website is under, the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license. This means that you can take the image or my words and use them for whatever you want as long as you don’t make money off of it and as long as you give me credit for having created it. It also has, and this is what makes me more interested from an archival perspective, the folksonomy part. People from all over the world can help you develop your metadata for these objects. If you don’t know where the photo is from, you can put it up and hopefully someone will find it and add information about it. Now, that might not happen much, but whenever it does that makes it worthwhile. The flickr pro account also allows you to have access to the original image size, which makes it a possiblity for the primary interaction patrons have with the object. If you upload a digital image to a flickr pro account, people can look at the same image that the creator took.

Back at William & Mary

Wren Building

The Wren Building at the College of William and Mary. The most famous building on campus and the building where I had a lot of my classes. All of my Religious Studies ones in fact. And I was going to write something about religion, but I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to metablog, because I realized recently that one of my problems with blogging is that I always try to write something that touches on too grand of ideas. I’m always trying to write something that will be Important instead of just talking about regular stuff. Trying always to write something Important just makes me give up trying to write altogether, since I never can think of anything important enough to write about. But then the other side makes me feel like I’m just putting trite banalities up there for my own benefit. And I guess it always is for your own benefit, but it seems like an especially vain exercise to me when I do it. Thats part of the reason behind my photo musings is so that I can try and get past that.

One of the fairly unknown things about the Wren Building (at least something I didn’t know for a long time) is that there are circles in the ceilings of a lot of the rooms; those circles would pop down in case of a fire and reveal that they are actually the sprinkler system. They had to hide it because they don’t look “colonial” enough.

Globalization

Sometimes, globalization fractures my tiny mind.  When drinking my daily cup(s) of tea today, as well as other days, it really comes home to me.  Looking into my tin of tea, I realize that a couple of months ago a person in India or China (depending on which tea I’m drinking), who probably makes like a dollar a day, picked this tea by hand.  Then the owner of the farm sold it to a broker, who got it imported over here, and then sold to the place where I bought it.  I’m touching something thats been touched by some of the poorest people in the world and then served up to me.  I know that this also happens with my clothes, gadgets, and many of the things that I own.  But for some reason, the organic nature of tea and the fact that tea is the most drunk beverage in the world plays into this as well.  The person who picked the tea leaves probably drinks tea as well.  A similar experience, shared by people across the world.’,’Sometimes, globalization fractures my tiny mind.  When drinking my daily cup(s) of tea today, as well as other days, it really comes home to me.  Looking into my tin of tea, I realize that a couple of months ago a person in India or China (depending on which tea I’m drinking), who probably makes like a dollar a day, picked this tea by hand.  Then the owner of the farm sold it to a broker, who got it imported over here, and then sold to the place where I bought it.  I’m touching something thats been touched by some of the poorest people in the world and then served up to me.

How-to: Basic informtaion to get a GoDaddy site working on a Ubuntu server

Here’s what I needed to do to get my custom domain name from GoDaddy working with this WordPress instance on an Ubuntu 9.04 server. After installing and setting up WordPress, which was mostly easy, I needed to get this custom domain name working as well. The first thing that I needed to do was to edit my /etc/hosts file. When I installed Ubuntu, I just okey’d the default networking settings, which set my domain name as nc.rr.com. So I had to change that to shadeball.org, to match this website. I also changed the IP address in the hosts file from 127.0.1.1, a loopback address, to its real local address, 192.168.1.105. To finish the /etc/hosts file part, I ran these two commands: echo grainger.shadeball.org > /etc/hostname and /etc/init.d/hostname.sh start. Then I needed to change the settings of my Apache webserver. The first thing that I changed was the document root, so that it was actually serving up my WordPress site instead of placeholder “It works!” that is in the default installation of any Apache webserver. After I changed the document root to “/usr/share/wordpress”, I had to add the ServerName and ServerAlias fields so that it would actually run as “shadeball.org” and “www.shadeball.org”. So I added: ServerName shadeball.org ServerAlias www.shadeball.org into the top of the VirtualHost area. This actually doesn’t work, so far as I can tell, with WordPress. I want to figure out how to get it so www.shadeball.org does actually redirect to shadeball.org, but I haven’t figured it out yet (and borked my server trying). To make my site accessible to the world, I only needed to change a few more things, all in my GoDaddy DNS settings. In the “Total DNS Control and MX Records” page, I changed the Host to the IP address of my server, and changed the “www” alias to “shadeball.org”. And then that was that!

This will prove useful for me if/when I ever install a new server, and I hope it can be useful to anyone else installing a server. I couldn’t find a really simple explanation of how to get a custom domain name working on a personal server.

Lenoir in the Rain

Lenoir
This is the first in what is hopefully a series of writings about photographs that I take. They may be non-fiction or *gasp* I may even try to venture into the land of fiction. I’ve always been interested by short stories, so maaaaybe some of those will shope up. We shall see. Even if they do show up, I’m sure they won’t be very good. I really like the rain. Pouring rain, light rain, really any kind. I love sitting out on my porch during a thunderstorm, even though that doesnt work quite as well here. My favorite type of rain, at least for now, is a cold steady drizzle. Temperature in the 40s, no leaves on the trees, just grey and gross all over. It always reminds me of this Emerson quote, which Ive felt as well:

Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration.

But right now, thats not what we have. Spring rain in North Carolina is cool but humid. It provides a strange combination: you’re cool walking through the rain or when the window is open, but when you walk through it you always end up hot and sweaty. Its strange, but I like it. Perhaps I’ll end up like that character from Douglas Adams’ So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, Rob McKenna, who catalogs all the different kinds of rain he encounters because he is, unknowingly, a minor rain god. Or perhaps not.

Mill Mountain Coffee

Christi and I went to Mill Mountain Coffee yesterday, which is a local chain of coffee shops in the Roanoke/New River Valley area.  The tea experience that I had at the one in Blacksburg was interesting.  They had a wide selection of tea, including white tea.  However, when I asked what kind of white tea they had, the lady behind the counter said “oh, its just the regular kind.”…  There isn’t a “regular” kind of white tea; they’re all named based on the province and the quality of the tea.  The term “white tea” just a term that describes how a tea was processed. Then when I got my tea, it was served with the leaves floating loose in the pot itself.  This is a great way to brew tea leaves, but they didn’t give me a way to stop the tea leaves from steeping once their time was up. (They also didn’t tell me how long to steep them for, but since I ordered white tea maybe they figured I would know.)  So I had to go get a fork and pluck out as many of the leaves as I could.  The second time I steeped my leaves, I got another tea pot so I could just pour the steeped tea into the empty teapot, leaving the leaves in the first one.  Thats what you’re supposed to do, but I only thought of it the second time around.  All and all it was a fairly good experience, but still a little offputting the way they dealt with the tea.