Notebook of Sand



Curriculum Vitae

• Recent Publications
• Recent Projects
• Conferences & Speaking
"Comparing Spatial Hypertext Collections"
  ACM Hypertext '09
"Archiving and Sharing Your Tinderbox"
  Tinderbox Weekend London '09
"The Electronic Nature of Future Literatures"
  Literary Studies Now, Apr '09
"The World University Project"
  St. John's Col. Cambridge, Feb '09
"Ethical Explanations,"
  The New Knowledge Forge, Jun '08
Lecture, Cambridge University
  Tragedy in E-Lit, Nov '07
Hypertext '07: Tragedy in E-Lit
Host for Tinderbox Cambridge '07
Keynote: Dickinson State Uni Conf
Upper Midwest NCHC'07: Speaker
eNarrative 6: Creative Nonfiction
HT'05: "Philadelphia Fullerine"
  Nelson award winning paper
NCHC '05:
 Nurturing Independent Scholarship
Riddick Practicum:
  Building Meeting Good Will
NCHC '04:
  Philadelphia Fullerine
  Lecture on American Studies
WWW@10: Nonfiction on the Web
NCHC '03: Parliamentary Procedure
ELL '03 -- Gawain Superstar
• (a)Musing (ad)Dictions:

Ideas. Tools. Art. Build --not buy. What works, what doesn't. Enjoy new media and software aesthetics at Tekka.

Theodore Gray (The Magic Black Box)

Faith, Life, Art, Academics. Sermons from my family away from home: Eden Chapel!

My other home: The Cambridge Union Society (in 2007, I designed our [Fresher's Guide])

The Economist daily news analysis

Global Higher Ed blog

• Hypertext/Writing

Writing the Living Web

Chief Scientist of Eastgate Systems, hypertext expert Mark Bernstein. (Electronic) Literature, cooking, art, etc.

Fabulous game reviews at playthisthing.

• Stats

Chapter I: Born. Lived. Died.

There is a Chapter II.

Locale: Lancaster County Pa, USA

Lineage: Guatemala

Religion: My faith is the primary focus of my life, influencing each part of me. I have been forgiven, cleansed, and empowered by Jesus Christ. Without him, I am a very thoughtful, competent idiot. With him, I am all I need to be, all I could ever hope for. I oppose institutional religious stagnation, but getting together with others is a good idea. God is real. Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Bible is true. Faith is not human effort. It's human choice. I try to be the most listening, understanding, and generous person I can.

Interests: Anything I can learn. Training and experience in new media, computer science, anglophone literature, education, parliamentary debate, democratic procedure, sculpture, and trumpet performance. Next: applied & computational linguistics, probably.

Education: Private school K-3. Home educated 4-12. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Elizabethtown College in Jan 2006. As the 2006 Davies-Jackson Scholar, I studied English at St. John's College, Cambridge University from 2006 - 2008.

Memberships: Eden Baptist, Cambridge Union Society, ACM, AIP, GPA.

Alum of the Elizabethtown College Honors Program, sponsored by the Hershey Company.

Early Postings
2004: Earlier | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
2005: Jan | Feb | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
2006: Jan | Feb | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
2007: Spring | Summer - Summer 2008 | Spring & Summer 2009 | Now
Small Acts of Kindness
Sunday, 18 Jan 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

I will try to give small acts of kindness for those who are in need, whether ill or grieving, or whatever. Little things take a little time, but they mean a whole lot. Once, during my first semester, I took a plate of brownies to my friend (and trumpet section leader), Amy Simons when she was ill. I was scared to death. She was a senior; I was in my first year at a college institution.

I will never forget the smile on her face as she dove her hands into the plate of brownies.

Sadly, I have not been as forthright in this kind of action during the last few years of my college experience. I need to pick up what I left off and begin showing kindness in significant ways to others.

I may not be as efficient in my own goals. I may find it difficult to scrape together the time I wish to have for my studies. But acts of kindness are more valuable than the paragon of mere academic pursuits. Call me old-fashioned, but I do believe that who I am and what I do to aid others is much more important than what I accomplish or what I know.

Sunday, 18 Jan 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

My good friend Jonathan Brownell spent the summer of 2003 in Europe. Aside from being a creative programmer, an amazing musician, and a fantabulous juggler, he's also a very good writer. He works for Hewlett Packard and periodically attempts to encourage me to work in his section. I would, if I felt like programming was my calling. The annoying thing is this: I do better in programming than in anything else, and I find great satisfaction in it. Unfortunately, I also know what it does to me, at least in all the environments I have lived in.

Programming rips into my life. I know my problem. I love it too much. For a while, I am ecstatic, bursting with joy from the sheer mental challenge and the freedom of creativity, etc. Accomplishing goals, solving problems, coming up with solutions, tying things together, doing all the things that a mentally intense person dreams of. Then the long weekends begin to pile up, and the long hours begin to grow longer, creeping into the cracks between my relationships with God and humans, wedging them apart. And I begin to feel like a poison has entered my body, acid burning inside my gut. By then, I'm too deeply involved, too deeply needed to leave easily. And the cycle continues, at least, it always did.

Until I chose the path of a writer.

Anyway, Jonathan brownell wrote a really great account of his trip to Europe entitled "Wanderlust". The story combines photos of his experiences with plenty of insightful and humorous narrative alongside.

Wednesday, 15 Oct 2003 :-: ["Permalink"]

For some odd reason, Byron McGee thinks that the word "quaff" should be pronounced "quaff" rather than "quaff". We do, however, agree, that if we could agree on a pronunciation of the word "quay", we would be no farther in determining the pronunciation of "quaff".

Despite these difficulties, we have a possible solution. Nate will "quaff" a bottle of vodka and attempt to pronounce the word mid-swallow. However he pronounces it is the official pronunciation.

Unfortunately, before he was able to quaff the esteemed beverage, Nate was sidetracked; he was curious to find out the Lift-to-Velocity Ratio of an European Swallow laden with a coconut. He rode off in a trail of dust (which is odd, because most people ride off on a horse), leaving Ryan, confused and unsure what to do next.

So he took Nate's vodka and drank it for himself, concluding that the word is pronounced just as it's written, "quaff." Crazy mick.

Cyrillic Projector
Tuesday, 9 Sep 2003 :-: ["Permalink"]

The amazing, beautiful Cyrillic Projector, created by techie artist James Sanborn , contains a bright light in the center and projects an encoded cipher onto the surrounding area. This cipher was just recently cracked and has been verified to contain once-secret KGB documents. This, however, is not his first work of this type. He has also installed Kryptos, a similar sculpture, in front of the CIA Building. It has not yet been cracked, but plenty of people are trying to figure out its message.

The Universal Mud Puddle
Sunday, 9 Mar 2003 :-: ["Permalink"]

This universe consists of a mud puddle and a void. In the puddle, tenants carefully pore over each mud-molecule, sucking them, testing to find one that tastes good. Another group has disavowed this first group, and leaving their midst, is incessantly, unswervingly intent on creating new particles of mud from old ones.

Once, a man somehow found himself on the edge of the puddle, perched on the edge of the unknown void. Dissatisfied with the taste of all the ugly specks and uncertain of the quality of recycled ones, which seemed so quickly to end up back in the first pile, he pondered the possibilities of Void.

"It's dangerous out there!" said a friend as he looked on.

"You've been there?" he replied.

"Of course not! It's dangerous," retorted the onlooker.

"Oh." The man swung his legs over Void and felt the fresh breezes against his bare feet. He jumped off the edge of the world and began to fall.

As he fell, he heard voices above, "Idiot! No one has ever returned!" from one side, and "You're still just one of us!" from the other.

To his surprise, he landed lightly on solid ground. For the first time in his life, he felt grass between his toes. He started walking, kept walking, until the mud puddles were lost, themselves specks in the vast expanse of Void.

He never returned.

On Aphorisms
Sunday, 8 Dec 2002 :-: ["Permalink"]

(On Writing In General) 12.08.2002

I used to listen to what writers said about writing. Then I realized two things. First, I don't want to be like them. Second, they only start thinking about how to be a writer after they become one.


The nice thing about life is that I'll never reach my potential. The moment I think I have reached it, I suddenly have much farther to go.

To succeed in life, it is better to reach half of your potential quickly then stop improving, rather than to slowly, surely reach all of your potential in the time God gives you. I'm glad I don't want to succeed in life.


The only reasonable motive behind aphorisms is this: that all aphorisms are useless to the reader.



Opportunity is the currency of potential is the currency of opporunity. Both enable, both impede results.

Nothing More to Give
Monday, 25 Nov 2002 :-: ["Permalink"]

I'm hosed. There's nothing more to give. I have poured my life into it, taken my soul and set it aside so I could concentrate. I have laid aside or given away everything, notwithstanding what I have given to it, what I have put into it, what I have slowly, methodically, seeped through, wringing the drops forth, out, in, down, into void. There is nothing left. Yet somehow I must have something tomorrow.

Someone too is looking at me, laughing at me.

(note from Sept 2003: this is referring to a paper I was working on for Dr. Harman's class about Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man and aesthetic theory. It was a really really tough project, too much for me. I threw myself into it, wasted an entire swath of time --including a perfectly good Thanksgiving-- locked up in my room working on the paper)

Life College Experience
Tuesday, 5 Nov 2002 :-: ["Permalink"]

College is an unknown to me. It is ever ebbing, flowing, fro, and to hither and thither. And I stand, no, hang as they hover, their lives flashing before my very eyes, a blur, a smooth yet pretty distortion of who they are and what they are doing. And I? I am a blur too. The whole world is ablur, amok, mocking itself. And the only sharp objects are my eyes, two bright bloodshot, round eyes, sitting atop a bounding blur of motion, dripping salty tears at the swaying of a waxing day, trying to stay straight, or up, or forward, or something, but always looking, always piercing, rarely seeing things for what they are.

I really must stop reading Beckett. :)

Library Futility
Sunday, 3 Nov 2002 :-: ["Permalink"]

I look at books on the "new books shelf," peer into their faces, leaf through these carpentered, carved, crafted blocks of wood, before they are themselves shelved in the endless forest, the woods where one can get lost and never return, or build a cabin, a nice place to sit by the fire fueled by crackling leaves, and read books, and write books, and add to the forest, trapping yourself and all else for the rest of eternity.

I bet that's somewhere in the forest, already put on paper, this paperless, useless, transient thought smacked on plastic keys, zipped over ringing wires to my home, your home, your eyes, your mind, my piano.

On Terms
Monday, 28 Oct 2002 :-: ["Permalink"]

Terms are placeholders we use to pretend that we can comprehend what we can only begin to speculate about; they let us logically arrange the incomprehensible into orderly, structured lunacy.

Kafka doesn't make enough sense until you read Joyce (especially Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) after reading Kafka.

Why Try
Thursday, 20 Jun 2002 :-: ["Permalink"]

The Elizabethtown College Library is one of the most discouraging places I know. Yet I go there often to cheer myself up. As I sit and look out the windows on what will some day become my Alma Mater, I revel in accelerating despair and gleefully drink despondency's deep chalice. I go home singing.

Can you imaging anything as bad as being a statistic? I often marvel that I wasn't hit by lightning, didn't die from secondhand smoke, was not fatally squashed by a car, dissected by aliens from the tenth dimension, or dashed in the brains by some unseen assailant. The horse I passed on the way to work wasn't so lucky. I'll never figure out how I knew from a hundred-fifty yards away that the sagging lump on the side of the road was a body, but I couldn't doubt its deadness. The empty head (the brain was splashed all over the road, you see) sagged its mouth in a stupid grin at me. I called the township and told them. So had hundreds of others.

The little girl I passed on my way to work probably wanted to be a different kind of statistic than she was the day I passed by. I saw a glimpse of her blood-stained mother grasp her daughter close to her torn body as she screamed from pain. Tractor trailer trucks and their passengers statistically get hurt a lot less than the passengers of the economy car they crumple to pieces. I looked, I cried, I went to work, I put my shoulder to the corporate machine, and I went home a statistic.

Am I doomed to be an extra to this world's vast play? Am I fated to a numeric count? One of seventeen hundred students at Elizabethtown College. One of eighty honors students. The only dual English/ Comp Sci major who plays in the Wind Ensemble. One of millions who thinks he can write and wastes his time trying to gain the passing fancy of his fellow humans long enough to keep from starving. Or perhaps one of the thousands of fools who spend their life at their job, keeping other people's communications running by maintaining the computer and Internet systems. Another person making money so I can give it to people who make money to give it to other people who make money to give it to yet others. Or maybe even one of the rare few who likes his job of taking advantage of people who take advantage of those that take advantage of me.


Josh Curtis
Thursday, 16 May 2002 :-: ["Permalink"]

Yay! I'm hosting my own website and email now! In a few days, I'll be able to offer inexpensive website/email hosting on the machine that's doing my website and email. I'll keep you posted as the information to be posted presents itself.

Many thanks to Joshua Curtis for all the great help he was in setting up this server. He also was the person who graciously did my web and email serving for over a year. Note: He's going to need some hosting himself, so if any of you have a free corner for low bandwidth colo at a cheap price, let him know. It has been a good run Josh, and I wish you the best. (addendum May 31st... Josh now has hosting for his site. Thanks).

Johnson and Boswell
Thursday, 20 Dec 2001 :-: ["Permalink"]

I have been looking over Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, and it may very well have some interesting ramifications on my future. As I organize my thoughts, I intend to post them.

...A year later...

I am still organizing my thoughts on these two guys. :) However, I find it interesting that I first encountered the exchange between Boswell and Johnson during the winter of 2001, which was the most influential winter of my teenage life.

An unfinished essay of mine (sometime in early 2002? I remember mentioning it to someone, then never finishing it :P) reads at the top:

During 2001, I was thinking very heavily on diligence and effective living for Christ. When almost to the despair point, I began to read Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson.

The essay goes on for a while, contains many of the dark musings of that important year, then includes the following excerpt from the book. (hmm. This was a combo essay and literary analysis. I just didn't know how to do one at the time. It shows)

Yes. I did type this in by hand. It was that important and formative for me. This letter, written so long ago, is one of the most influential things I have ever read. Or at least, one of the most dramatically influential.