Cloudwatcher

· Music

[bust of spectral cloudman]
Sometime when I’m headed to the Berkeley Bowl late in the day and my digital camera’s battery is charged up, I grab the cam and stick in my pocket because there are times when the parking lot of the Bowl will provide several wide vistas showing interesting East Bay cloudscapes or sunsets. There’s something about the spot, a kind of wide-open crossroadslike area with a big sky overhead that often makes for fascinating images.
Pushing my cart across the parking lot on Wednesday, I noticed a purple-and-orange sunset happening down the road (I’ll upload those photos later), so I paused, got out my camera, and started snapping some pictures. As I did so, I noticed a waft of clouds from overhead drifting into the sunset, so I started snapping shots up and over my head, catching segments of the wispy ribbons. Suddenly, I noticed a distinct skeletal image, a skull atop a sort of twisted body.
I couldn’t believe how vivid it was. I decided it looked like skeleton riding a harley, flames or shreds of hair flowing in the wind. I briefly wondered if I was seeing an actual deliberate artwork by some local Dead head but that was clearly impossible. I looked and looked again to be sure that I wasn’t imagining what I was seeing.
I also started snapping pictures because I know clouds change quickly.
It’s normal for the human mind to perceive faces and other coherent images in random Brownian patterns. I realize that. I know intellectual, as a rationalist, that this was just a coincidental set of flutterings that happened to gather themselves into a freaking Rick Griffin poster in the sky.
As I kept snapping pictures I heard a black woman approach, saying something like. “Look at that! A man in the sky. It’s a skeleton.” As she got up to me, she asked me, “Are you a cloudwatcher? Do you see that skeleton in the sky?”
“Yeah,” I said. “It’s creepy. That’s why I’m taking pictures.” But she had already continued on and was asking the next person if they saw that man up there. I was oddly relieved that I was not the only person seeing it.
I kept taking pictures of the sunset as I pushed my cart to the curb. I passed a man selling Street Spirit at the edge of the lot, wearing a hand-me-down denim jacket with dancing bears embroidered across the shoulders. Not an uncommon sight in Berkeley, but it briefly gave me pause. Was there a message in all this, a code? Did the beggar put that image in the sky so I, a longtime Grateful Dead gomer would feel inspired to make a donation? Was he some kind of psychokinetic character out of a Jonathan Lethem novel?
I don’t know. I didn’t buy his paper. I wasn’t moved to give this time. Superstition reared again and I wondered if the image in the sky was an omen. Should I drive especially carefully on the way home? I took a few more shots of the pattern now that it had drifted into cottony incoherence. The image was gone, but I had captured its soul in my magic box, and another human being had seen it the same way while it was happening, so I’m not crazy, right?
The picture at the top of this entry links to a halfsize image of the Harley-riding skeleton-man. I’ve uploaded the original picture of the sky-spectre as well. It’s only about 300 K since it’s mainly blue with some white.”

now playing:
The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice” by Jimi Hendrix [South Saturn Delta]

Blogging the Democratic convention

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Leading left blogger Kos says, in Bloggers at DNC convention:

There is interest amongst individuals inside Democratic Party circles to do something special for bloggers at the Democratic Party convention.

He invites suggestions about how bloggers can participate in the convention, beyond simply getting press passes. One suggestion from the comment thread attached to the post is for bloggers to cover the party’s platform proceedings, “blogging the platform,” as it were.
If bloggers are welcomed at the convention, they should be able to provide a multifaceted view of the event to those who are unable to attend that would compete on some level with the by-now-rote TV coverage.

Exploring DeanSpace

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In order to help the DeanSpace people document their software package for would-be site developers, I figured it was necessary to, like, actually use the software myself. I got a domain name from sites.fordean.net and free hosting from Bruce Forkush, logged in as admin, and started flipping some switches and voila! Oakland for Dean lives.
Of course, that was kind of cheating, since Bruce had DeanSpace already set up on his server, so I’m also doing a separate installation on the Mediajunkie server so I can truly pose as an expert and start making the docs a little more newbie-friendly.
One cool thing is that I quickly added RSS feeds for my favorite political websites and for a few other Dean sites that have them (along with some local sites for other Democratic candidates), and the incoming content has populated the site right away, which gives the impression of a full-fledged thriving site and just me as the “ignore the man behind the curtain” guy back there fiddling with the controls.
On the other hand, the site’s own RSS feed puts out that same content again without clearly attributing it or citing the original sources, which feels uncomfortably like plagiarism. I’m not sure how I want to handle that.
Even on the main page I’d like it if the incoming feeds had their sources clearly labeled so people could tell easily what came in from beyond and which content is native. Anyone can sign up as an Oakland for Dean user and immediately get their own blog there.
There are also plans for a kind of feeds dashboard so that the various DeanSpace sites can find each other and start reading and republishing each other’s feeds. I’d like that. It’d be nice to know that the content I’ve been writing for O4D was being picked up elsewhere in the Deanosphere.