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.

November 2004
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
Go Laura Bush
Monday, 29 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

Today, I did something unusual.

I turned on the TV.

It was BookTV, one of the best channels out there (ok, now you know how weird I am).

But even better, it was the 2004 National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress and Laura Bush. I watched Nathaniel Philbrick pitch his book, Sea of Glory, about an interesting scientific voyage. It's not just a book about a voyage; it's the story of Wilkes, the leader of the ship, who broke down mentally and completely reinvented his leadership methods, from a friendly guy to what he called A Martinet. The officers couldn't bear the new hardship of a reinvented, harsh leader. But they couldn't speak against him. However, one officer, the brother of General John Reynolds, from Lancaster, PA, kept a secret journal, writing 250,000 words over 4 years. So we have a non-censored story of the voyage.

On this voyage, they discovered Antarctica. The only problem? Several other nationalities did it at the same time.

** * **

This book is definitely on my to-read list.

Scriptural Musings #2
Monday, 29 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

A very good friend writes...

I'm thrilled at the random Scriptural musing at the bottom of your website. That's the way! Living out our lives as "ministers of reconciliation," as 2 Cor 5 tells us. Our message: God has reconciled the world to himself in Christ!!

[An acquaintance] told me he wants to get a Bible. So I went out and bought him a Bible. He was so overwhelmed and excited to learn what God has to say to him! I just love being a minister of reconcilation. We have horrible good news to share, and when God effectively works in the heart of a non-believer to embrace him, we're watching a miracle from the hand of God at work - regeneration! I wouldn't rather be doing anything else right now than sharing the glorious light of the gospel that is hid in Christ...

Chirp Chirp
Sunday, 28 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

Baseball is a habit I wished I had forgotten.

*Tunk* ahhhhhhh... the ball flew past the outfielders.

Go! Go! Run!

I dropped my bat and ran to first base. There was only one problem.

Cricket doesn't use bases.

Nooo! Don't drop the bat, stupid! they yelled.

I yelled an apology -- "Sorry! Sorry! Baseball!" -- and ran back for the bat.

Nooo! Don't run back to the bat. The wicket! The wicket! they yelled, half falling over from laughter. The American thinks he's playing baseball....

That hurt. But it bought me time.

I hurtled back toward the bat and reached down for the handle, digging my heels into the spongy springtime turf, reversing direction without a hiccup. In an instant, I was running toward the other wicket. The other batsman, laughing, could barely jog as he mirrored me, passing me in his path in-between the wickets, always opposite me in the back-and-forth sprint. We passed each other four times. Four points. I stopped at the wicket before they took the chance to tag me with the ball.

Try not to drop the bat this time.

I sighed and bit my tongue. My feet sank firmly in front of the first wicket, my knees bent like an erector set, ready to spring, as the wide, paddle-like bat hovered close by my side. Why did I wear the black Airwalks with the shallow rubber diamond soles? Even slippers would have given me more traction....Don't mess up, I repeated to myself.

Ali focused. Now that I think of it, I'm glad a former member of the Pakistani junior national team was throwing the ball. A single miscalculation, and my jaw, my arm, my knee, my -- well, you get the picture -- would be smashed by the hard, red leather ball's weathered surface. It could have been made of steel, for all I could tell.

Cricket balls don't sting, you see. They crush, crack, and mangle.

"Most cricket players have lost their front teeth," someome commented. But I didn't worry. Ali was bowling.

In Cricket, pitchers get a running start. Before he came to the opposite wicket, Ali leaped into the air, swung his long, bony arm wide, and thew the ball at the squishy ground.

Splot. It bounced.

I swung. The jolt passed through the lightweight bat into my bones.

Another hit. The ball flew of the angled bat into the grassy beyond. This time, I ran straight to the other wicket, holding the bat firmly in my hand. We scissored back and forth several times, until the ball finally caught up with us.

Good job, they said. You'll make a cricketer yet.

** * **


Sometimes, I wish the demands of school and life were not so rigorous. I haven't played since that day.

Letter to Linus
Friday, 26 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

After a long, curious search, I finally found another geometric hypertext. This one, which only exists electronically, is a cube. In some ways it's clever. In other ways, it's not. But it is a poem in the shape of a cube, just as my sculpture, Philadelphia Fullerine, is a history in the shape of a sphere.

Letter to Linus

Is this website becoming top-heavy?
Tuesday, 23 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

Man in diabolical NASA sanity testing device
Photo Credit:NASA
I think I need to redesign. All the fun I have had with transclusion and automatic use of Agents in Tinderbox is making this site a much richer resource, but it also is outgrowing the current layout. Maybe this is something to do over Thanksgiving....if I have the time.

Scriptural Musings, a New Feature
Monday, 22 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

Finally, after sending word around informally quite a long time ago, I have implemented a "scriptural musings" portion of my site.

Here's how it works. Just send me an email with a scripture passage you like, along with what it means to you, and I will add it to the archive. Then, every time I update my website, a new scripture item will be randomly selected by Tinderbox and posted to the front page.

Explanations should be just a few sentences. If you have something more substantial to say, I'll write it as a post.

Although this is really only intended for authorship by my closer friends, if you have something encouraging or informative to say, I will probably post it to the scriptural musings area.

** * **

Why do this?

Well, I write a lot about secular topics, but my most real life is the life I have as a Christian. My relationship with God is more than a hobby, more than one would expect from a human relationship. God influences everything, and I want Him to become yet more influential.

Since my blog in some ways lays on the author function pretty heavily, it probably should be somewhat accurate to who I am.

The Flannel Man
Thursday, 18 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

How long was he invisible?

If only the pile of books where he sat could whisper the secret of his rough fingers, or crack open the emotion in the white-whiskered, wrinkled face that framed his deep-set, dark blue eyes! But this room is silent, except for the two behind me who discuss in hushed tones: sales figures.

"Don't give me any of that altruistic stuff," the suit speaks, "It's all about money."

I remember when the elderly man shuffled in hunched inside his red flannel coat, inside the faded blue denim shirt, inside the dark blue sweater, cocooned inside the layers of his few possessions. Outside the public library, the New Orleans sun beats down a constant, 80 degree heat.

They know each other here. The security guard waves to the cripples and the suits. Do they know the old man? I want to know.

But an empty seat remains.

I'll never know.

I ought to go back to the Hyatt, to the power suits, funky beards, bare midriffs, and lavender lenses of the National Collegiate Honors Conference. I should go back, find that Croatian biologist with the lovely curls, and buy her a beer. Or, I could do something that remains true to my character; I could, like the geek I am, go museum-hopping with friends.

The guard helps an elderly woman to her car. They laugh. A man in faded overalls carries a teetering stack of books to a table. On the top is a New Oxford Dictionary.

I stay for a while.

I can't go back to the recursive isolation of the Hyatt, the talk of culture and diversity, of science and progress, the talk that turns the flannel man into an invisible.

I linger for a while and pay to use the Internet. Behind the desk is an amazing thing: a beautiful acrylic sphere that plots the meridian lines and calculates the night sky for a given evening. They let me play with it. Precision mathematics and the poetry of the stars merge and spin like soulmates.

"So, why are you interested in this globe thing?"

"Oh, I'm presenting a spherical sculpture at the National Collegiate Honors Conference this weekend. It's about ethnic, lower-class life in mid-19th century Philadelphia."

The sphere! I need to finish attaching triangles, I realize. Heading back to the hotel, I pass a beggar who asks money for food. I offer him an unopened bag of trail mix. He refuses.


On the bright side, I was able to present twice at the conference. The presentation of my geodesic narrative montage(I think it is the first ever hypertext sculpture), went extremely well. I call it Philadelphia Fullerine.

Tuesday, 9 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

Amend! Aloes alter any acrimonious altercations; after Agincourt, anyone addled asked an Aspirin.

Avast! Angry adventurers aren't always an advantage aboard an argosy.

Aldermen answer any ample accusation; an alternate attitude avails all.

Slipping sloppily, slackers slouch, so simply-sent shipments slide.

Salad sings, soothing sad stomachs.

Slow ships shunt sails, slinking safely. Seas spill. Seep, surround slipshod slats, slanted shafts. Shudder, sluggish sails slacken. Slanting, slipping, sinking. Sunk.

Dainty dancers don't dare deign dark deeds. (do 'dey date dark dudes?)

Distract doubt. Dip down, drink dank, dripping, dolorous danger!

Forsooth! For famous fellows, fair females fall fainting.

Flighty fears fail; fletched folly flies far, first feeling false fortitude, finally flopping.

News Flash: Smallminded Win 2004 Presidential Election
Friday, 5 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

Such is the prevailing mournful woe I keep hearing. Oddly enough, I'm inclined to agree with it. I think this eleection has been a landslide victory for an unexpectedly-large group of small-minded and intolerant people.

Take, for example, this article in the Guardian: "Onward Christian Soldiers: Simon Schama on a newly divided America."

He goes on to make the Red vs Blue analogy, pointing out the existence of more-worldly people in the Blue areas, people who understand and appreciate other cultures. Then he points to the small-minded hicks of Red America, noting their small mindedness, etc.

I wonder what Simon Schama would say about me. I'm a Christian, and many I know who are Christians are much more mindful of world cultures/events than my Democrat friends. We don't just look at world events to discredit an administration. We look at world events with an eye on making a difference. After all, I'm of Guatemalan descent.

** * **

This political racism is a a false segregation which lies in the arbitrary division, labeling, and stereotyping of large diverse groups of people; it is based on one of the oldest lies in the book.

I would like to think that these more intellectual, more thoughtful people that Schama describes would be intellectually honest not to fall for something as obvious as a false dilemma, but I seem to be sorely mistaken. Schama and all the other lamenters of the stupidity of Red America fall for it like a lead cannonball dropped from the Tower of Pisa.

** * **

If you want to lament anything, please lament the plurality voting system that pits us against each other. Red V. Blue is a CONSTRUCT! If there is any conspiracy, then it is being perpetrated by Republicans, Democrats, and anyone who would try to convince you that Red V. Blue means anything significant. It's the Republicans and Democrats who consistently suppress the power of the third parties. It's the Republicans and Democrats who eat their own (see Nader) so they may follow a flawed construct.

Chill, people. If you get angry this time 'round, don't get angry at your fellow Americans. Get angry at the people who are trying to divide and conquer this country for their own political gain.

How sad that communications technology and the blogging world are only giving people more chances to turn the false divisions of a flawed construct into real hate, small-mindedness, and division. Don't let the pundits, the bloggers, or the mass-controlling mass-media take away your individuality and decide your political ideology by coloring your mind.

And don't ever talk to me about the stupid hicks in Red America.

** * **

Yes, the smallminded have won the 2004 election by a raging landslide. I see spirits drooped with heavy chains in the heavy eyes of sorrow and disillusionment and anger around me.

These chains are not necessary.

Intellectuals, *sigh*.

** * **

And yet, politics is itself another false dilemma. It is only one way, and harsh one at that, to improve the lives of others.

For many people, politics is a way to be socially responsible without actually caring for others. This is the mindset behind taxing people so we can contribute to programs that promote social justice. If Americans (or the people of any nation) actually wanted to take care of others, they wouldn't need socialism. Socialism is just a means to remain uncaring while easing our conscience.

As a Christian, I have other means by which I can be used to bring the greater good of many. It's a hard road, but a blessed one. This is why Coach Jones is a much greater hero than even the greatest politician.

The following poem is by Laxmi Prasad Devkota, a Nepalese man who was not a Christian, but who in this case truly expresses the reality.

"Everyone walks this way,
the rich and those who suffer poverty.
Earth has to meet earth.
I saw the world flower,
I saw it wilt
and I have known God.
The seeds we plant here
will grow in heaven.
What you have given, love,
you will get back
when you leave this place."
- Laxmi Prasad Devkota (Translated by Pallav Ranjan)

Thursday, 4 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

Wow. Natalie Smeltz is awesome. She's the marvelous second trumpet player in the Etown College concert band. Not just a musician, this Lutheran English major has a real caring heart. That's why I wasn't surprised to see who she invited to the college through S.W.E.E.T., the group that organizes many campus events.

Surprised? No. Delighted? You don't know the half of it. I couldn't stop squealing with pure insane joy for about a minute. See, I too can be a groupie.

Especially when the visitors are Radio and Coach Jones.

Thanks Natalie! You made my day -- no, my month -- no, my year. Even meeting people at the WWW@10 Conference wasn't as exciting as spending time listening to and talking with people of such love and kindness.

Coach Jones, Nathan Matias, and Radio

The movie, if you didn't know, really got started from buzz generated by an incredibly awesome Sports Illustrated article by Gary Smith: Someone to Lean On. Go ahead, read it. It's one of the most well-organized pieces of nonfiction writing I've ever read.

The Poor Voter on Election Day
Wednesday, 3 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"] [soundtrack]

The Poor Voter on Election Day, by John Greenleaf Whittier. He wrote this in the mid-19th century, when voting was restrited mostly to taxpayers.

(soundtrack: America the Beautiful)
(click to hear the poem, preferably with the soundtrack behind: The Poor Voter on Election Day)
The Proudest now is but my peer
The highest not more high.
Today, of all the weary year,
A king of men am I!
Today alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known.
My place is the people's hall,
The ballot box my throne.
Who serves today upon the list
Beside the served shall stand;
Alike the brown and wrinkled fist,
The gloved and dainty hand!
The rich is level with the poor,
The weak is strong today.
And sleekest broadcloth counts no more
Than homespun frock of gray.
Today let pomp and vain pretence
My stubborn right abide.
I set a plain man's common sense
Against the pedant's pride.
Today shall simple manhood try
The strength of gold and land;
The wide world has not wealth to buy
The power in my right hand.
While there's a grief to seek redress
Or balance to adjust,
Where weighs our living manhood less
Than Mammon's vilest dust -
While there's a right to need my vote
A wrong to sweep away,
Up! Clouted knee and ragged coat -
A man's a man today!

John Kerry Carries Philadelphia
Wednesday, 3 Nov 2004 :-: ["Permalink"]

Today was an exercise in why America's focus on local control is important. It first struck me on my way to Philadelphia on the Amtrak.

On the way up, the conductor was describing the cabin he built on land he bought from rich people in Tennessee. They were city folks, and he's a savvy midstate Pennsylvanian. While the other rich people in the area are fighting over the marina, he's building his cabin. No matter that they call his home a "fish shed." He bought a kit for half price, and now he has his dream of a home and beautiful land on a lake. It cost him much less than a suburban condo costs. Why? Almost nothing happens in that part of Tennessee. It's not a hotbed of social life. But that's exactly how he likes it.

The conductor on the way back, from Philly, was much different. When we arrived in Mount Joy, he hollered in disdain,

"What is that smell!"

The guy in front of me grinned.

"Lancaster County. What? You don't like manure?"

The conductor shook his head incredulously, and we all laughed. Cow poop is one of those things that makes our lives special.

The peope in Philadelphia are much different than I am -- at least the ones I pass on the street. Nobody smiles, nobody gives respect. A bunch of able-bodied people passed over an elderly woman who could have used an arm to cross the street. People look at me funny when I hold a door open or hand a beggar half of my sandwich.

I guess it really is a different world.

** * **

Many people were out trying to gather attention. But the efforts were focused and carefully-planned. Most Democrat activity I saw was in Center City, so the AP photographers wouldn't actually have to walk walk to get good photos.

Hummer Drivers for John Kerry

This picture is the perfect representation of what's wrong with this election. If Kerry were really interested in the environment, we would never see this. If Bush were really interested in big corporations and freewheeling irresponsibility, then we would never see this. Instead, the most likely-to-be-elected environmealist-ish candidate only comes so far as ignoring the issue by deferring the idea of good policy to the modern, silver-bullet magic of "future technology." This, of course, keeps everybody happy without doing a blessed thing about the problems we face with pollution and sustainability. Under Kerry, we will all be able to drive fuel-efficient, renewable-energy SUVs and hummers. And we'll be happy with how things turn out....(stops ranting before it gets too late)

** * **

Speaking of whom.... I ran into Kerry today while on my way to the Library Company of Philadelphia for history research...

Hummer Drivers for John Kerry

Kerry was stoically tacet when I asked him about his expectations for the election. No doubt he would have spoken out under other circumstances, but in this case, he was just a piece of cardboard. Oh well.

Kerry supporters were everywhere. Toward South Street, people from MoveOn were assembling en-masse.

I did notice later that they were cycling people to make the crowd look bigger than it really was. Good tactic.

** * **
Supporters of John Kerry in Philadelphia
Supporters of George W. Bush in Philadelphia
** * **

My opinion?

Resurrect the dead on planet Jupiter! Toynbee for Galactic Overlord!

Resurrect the dead on planet Jupiter! Toynbee for Galactic Overlord!
** * **