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 2005
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
The Hard Things
Tuesday, 22 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

It is a hard thing to follow the attitude of Christ after narrowly missing a Rhodes Scholarship.

The last weekend, I was at the University of Pennsylvania for the final, interview stage. There were 12 of us. They chose 2.

Losing is hard, but I did have a marvelous time. Expect a post soon.

For the meantime, I will try to live by the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

It's not easy to move on. But I must. A million other tasks lay before me.

Onward. And upward.

Tolkien for the weekend
Thursday, 17 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

This weekend may turn out to be a key turning point in my life.

The following quote from the Lord of the Rings is rather present in my mind right now:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

I wasn't no hero
Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"] [soundtrack]

When you ask George DePuydt about his involvement in World War II and his Purple Heart, he's quick to tell you, "I wasn't no hero."

How did George get a purple heart? His son Peter DePuydt writes:

Regarding the Purple Heart my Dad received at Monte Cassino. He told me that they were getting ready to cross the Rapido River into battle. He said he was talking to man from another tank who was about 5 feet way when a bomb landed (mortar shell?). The explosion knocked my Dad down and he was hit with some small pieces of shrapnel; the other soldier was disemboweled by the blast. My Dad said he just stood up and could not believe he was still alive. He still mentions how in war one man can survive things like that and someone right next to him is not so fortunate. When he told me this, I said that they were probably out having a cigarette, and he agreed!

Maybe Mr. DePuydt downplays his own role because he remembers the men who didn't make it.

Company B of the 753rd Tank Battalion lost 28 men killed in World War II. A company of tanks had approximately 75 men when at full strength. So you can see that it was seriously dangerous duty being in a tank with the infantry at “the tip of the spear,” as the military historians describe it. I have attached a picture of my Dad with one of his tanks. Notice all of the sand bags strapped to it for extra protection. Under-armored vehicles are not new to the war in Iraq.

One of George DePuydt's own crewmembers (shown in the photo in the previous post) died during the war: Harold Uhlrich. George and Harold were good friends.

I'll let Pete tell the rest of the story:

In the summer of 2004, I was visited my Parents. While I was there I took some of my Dad’s World War II pictures over to a cousin’s house to scan them. When I returned, my Dad asked me if I had scanned the photo with Uhlrich, and I said I had it on the CD.

During the years he often mentioned his friend Harold Uhlrich, but on this occasion he told me something I had not heard before.

When Harold died, he left behind a wife and a baby daughter who was 2 years old. My dad said that at the end of the war he had wanted to go to see Uhlrich’s family and tell them what had happened to him. But Dad had been away from my mom for 3 years, plus he didn’t have a job or a car. Remember, in those days there were no freeways either, so road trips could really be time consuming. However, I think the main goal was to try and get on with life. My dad never made the trip to Dubuque, Iowa to see Uhlrich’s family.

So I filed that away in the back of my mind, until the fall of 2004, when I started wondering about whether I could help my Dad complete that trip. So, to make a long story somewhat shorter, I did a little Internet sleuthing, and by luck (or Divine intervention?), Uhlrich’s daughter was found in Arizona. She was thrilled to see the picture and wanted to talk with my Dad. I called him and he said he would be happy to speak to her, so they had a nice telephone conversation, from what I was told. She did not meet with him in person. She called me after talking to my Dad, and said they never knew much about the circumstances of Harold’s death.

From what my Dad tells me, here is the story. They could see some Germans off in the distance from a ridge where their tank was parked. Harold got out of the tank with a pair of binoculars to get a better look, when he was shot by a sniper in the upper leg of the groin area. The bullet severed the artery. The tank crew tried to stop the bleeding while a medic was called on their radio. They took Harold away to a field hospital, and later found out that he died. At least his family learned that he wasn’t alone, and people who cared about him were there at his moment of truth.

So, in closing, I once mentioned to my Mom that these World War II pictures look like they are from the History Channel, and she replied “that’s because they are!”

--Pete DePuydt

Today's soundtrack: "America the Beautiful", performed by the USAF Singing Sergeants.

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife.
Who more than self the country loved
And mercy more than life!

Tuesday, 15 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

NCCRUA A RatingYay! During a study by the NRCCUA, the Elizabethtown College website was given the highest functionality rating possible. The NCCRUA surveys high school students to find out which college websites they find most useful and helpful. Even thought we're a small college, we ranked in the top level, along with 130 other websites. The sample size was 3000.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

"Grades were earned based on the ability of a college or university admissions website to take students from a prospect to applicant."

"Prospective college students are very Internet-savvy, and they have come to expect the admissions sections of university websites to provide critical information to help them make decisions," said Don Munce, president of NRCCUA. "If the sites don’t provide what they need, with the ease of navigation they expect, they’ll go elsewhere. A quality website can now be the difference between a lost prospect and a new student."

Working with the college on has sometimes been a frustrating process as we struggle to take our grand vision and accomplish it with the time and resources available, but this is the nature of most projects in life. I thoroughly enjoyed the last two summers on the web project and am proud to have played a key role in the IA of a site deemed functional by its constituent audience.

Armistice, and Montecassino
Monday, 14 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"] [soundtrack]

We just recently celebrated Armistice Day in the United States. So I thought that today would be a good day to post an interesting story I heard the other day:

** * **

It was 1944. The Man Who Never Was had already landed, and so had a lot of Allied troops. Now, they were trying to link up, but a single unite of German paratroopers managed to hold out for months.

Local refugees hid in the Abbey of Montecassino; the edifice had been around since 1394. Unfortunately, the Allied forces guessed that the Germans were hiding in the Abbey. Bombers publverized the building. Although the archives of the abbey were evacuated by the Germans at the start of the battle, many refugees died in the bombings.

The Allied victory at Montecassino opened the way for the Allied occupation of Rome. This marked the beginning of the end for the war with Nazi Germany, since it was the first Allied occupation of a major capital city.

** * **

This photograph was taken during the battle of Montecassino. These American soldiers were with Company B, from the 753rd Tank Battalion.

Company B, 753rd Tank Battalion, 1944, Pompeii. George DePuydt, Harold Uhlrich

My friend Peter DePuydt, reference librarian at Elizabethtown College, writes:

My Dad is on the left with the helmet. His name is George DePuydt and he will be 88 years old this Dec. 20. The man in the middle is/was his friend Harold Uhlrich. My Dad says he cannot remember the name of the man on the right. This picture may have been taken when they were on leave visiting the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. They were all at the Battle of Monte Cassino. My Dad was slightly wounded at that battle and was awarded a Purple Heart.

Uhlrich died a few months later. Before Harold died, George DePuydt promised he would find Harold's family. Now, after 60 years, he finally has.

** * **

Just look at their eyes.

** * **

Pete promised to tell me more about his father's purple heart, about Uhlrich's death, and about his dad's reunion with Uhlrich's daughter. I'll try to post them.

Today's Music: The Last Full Measure of Devotion. It's for all those who, like Uhlrich, have given their lives for the freedom of the world. And for heroes like George DePuydt, who gave no less yet still survived, I present, "Who Are the Brave."

Who are the brave? Those who go to war for freedom; those who live with pain; those who serve the poor. Those whose speech is free. Those loving liberty. All those with heart and mind, protecting all they find: those who serve mankind. These are the brave.

Multiple Choice
Friday, 11 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

I just heard of an awesome sort of multiple choice test offered by one of the Etown psych profs. It goes like this:

  • Multiple Choice can be pretty ambiguous.
  • *If you think the question is too ambiguous, write a short essay answer describing why the question is ambiguous and what the proper question should be. If you write well, you have the potential for full or partial credit.
  • Multiple Choice questions often don't give you a chance to show your understanding of the topic in which the question is involved.
    • If you know everything else about the topic, write an essay describing everything you know. You can get partial or full credit.

I think that this is the most awesome thing I have heard. If I ever give multiple choice tests, I will make this option available.

In Which I Join Organized Crime
Thursday, 10 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

A few months ago, the marvelous, effable ineffable effanineffable Natalie Smeltz showed me a script she was planning to record for a radio production class. Here's how the assignment worked: take a set of special effects-- a duck, a clock, a scream, and a splash-- and incorporate them into a basic audio script.

As soon as I saw the script, I knew I wanted to give it a try. So we ducked into one of the recording rooms and put this together in about 30 minutes (well, she no doubt spent more time editing).

So here it is: The Placida Conjuncture

Lake at night, by Colin H.

Pathology of Brilliance
Saturday, 5 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

Why are so many of my most intelligent, insightful, caring friends diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorders, and other psychological issues?

And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

--The Book of Ecclesiastes

Is this not also true today? And I too have had very dark periods in my life. People say I am smart and capable of good thinking. But I am capable of very dejected thinking. Like Helen Keller,

Truly I have looked into the very heart of darkness and refused to yield to its paralyzing influence, but in spirit I am one of those who walk the morning. What if all dark, discouraging moods of the human mind come across my way as thick as the dry leaves of autumn? Other feet have traveled that road before me, and I know the desert leads to God as surely as the green, refreshing fields and fruitful orchards.

I, too, have been profoundly humiliated and brought to realize my smallness amid the immensity of creation. The more I learn, the less I think I know; and the more I understand of my sense-experience, the more I perceive its shortcomings and its inadequacy as a basis of life. Sometimes the points of view of the optimist and the pessimist seem so well-balanced to me that it is only by sheer force of spirit that I can keep my hold upon a practical, livable philosophy of life. But I use my will, choose life, and reject its opposite, nothingness.

And yet I am not as strong as Helen. My will is incapable of pulling me from the dregs of thought that sometimes overtake me. Without God, I would surely be overcome.

** * **

Before I digress too far, I will say this:

A majority of the most insightful, intelligent people I know have been diagnosed with something in the DSM IV. Among these, all of them struggle with questions of inadequacy. Although praised for their talent and quality, they feel like they lack something fundamental.

I am afraid for my friends. Medication has not brought peace of mind, and the process strips them of the confidence they need to reach their full potential.

I look at them, and I want to hug them and tell them it's OK, that they're not second-class "problem" people, but that they're really and truly special people with beautiful minds, people who care deeply, people who can change the world. Because whatever their personal hurdles, I truly see great promise in the glint of their bright eyes-- promise which dims with each discouraging setback.

And me? I withdraw from most measurements of my personality or ability. I don't want to find out that I too have problems. I am content to be abnormal, and I know I'm not perfect. But I use my will, trust in God, attempt to live a better life, and reject its opposite: nothingness.

Pills, from

Update: One of my profs writes to say that unless you have a few flexible months to work out a good balance and adapt to your drugs, you should not start on medication.

He notes that, sure, it's possible to work out a normal life around some mild issues, but that some people really do struggle with major problems. Denying them can sometimes cause a lot of emotional pain to themselves and others. He says, "Medications are like a chemical prosthesis. To NOT take what might help could be tantamount to having a leg missing and refusing to wear a fake. "

He also says that it's possible to find the right balance that doesn't dull the mind yet deals with the issues, if it's combined with regular talk-based therapy. The trick, according to him, is to find the right clinician, someone who has read the literature and really knows what he/she is doing.

He also suggests the book, Against Depression, by Peter D. Kramer.

Personal Space
Thursday, 3 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

As I thought of parenthood, I realized something yesterday. It must be very difficult for parents the day their child develops a sense of personal space.


new iBook
Thursday, 3 Nov 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]

I'm back on track, with a new iBook from Apple. It has been a trying month, and the new machine has some problems, but at least I have something to work with.

Sorry for the blackout.

The new machine is mostly nice. I like the G4 processor. More later.