random synaptic firing Archives

The sort of ideas that come to me at 1am: a deeply detailed, historical, world census 2014

Drifting to sleep, maybe asleep and resurfacing to wakefulness my mind was flitting around from idea to idea, from memory to memory. What I remember and was left fully awake with was two things: Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' stuck in my head and the notion that it ought to be possible to create a deeply detailed census of the entire world population at a point in the past, provided that point was recent enough to be reached by many genealogists, but not so recent that the world population was in the billions.

Now, the more recent a point, the more accurate the data and the greater the likelihood of living descendents, but also, the more daunting the project (due to the number of individuals described) and thus the less likely of enticing participants to join in the grand adventure.

As interested as I am personally in the year 1600, I know from my own genealogical and historical research that it is distant enough to be problematic. Jumping forward to 1750 would give an estimated world population of 700-825 million people. Or, by other estimates, of 629-961 million. That's a lot, but not an insane number of nodes. For example, using the former range, it's about the number of articles in Wikipedia in Chinese or in Portuguese.

1750 has also got the inspirational benefit of a big anniversary coming up within the probable lifetime of the participants or their children—300 years in 2050.

So, how to begin?

Infrastructure is vital. It must be incredibly robust and flexible. It must have profound internationalization support. It must allow for advancement and diversification separately of its data storage, software interfaces, and human interfaces.

Data will come in in many forms and must be clearly associated with its source, so that later conflicts on details can be weighed based on their respective supporting data.

Detail will vary wildly from broad guesses of total population in a country to general counts of categories of individuals (e.g., heads of household, taxpayers, members of the military) to detailed nodes about a specific person (both the famous and the genealogically derived).

Eventually, participants will no doubt be interested in assessing the relationships between individual nodes, thus it would be helpful to be able to retain data details (e.g., membership of an individual in a particular tracked category such as "the 12th regiment of Lord So-and-So's light horse", or "household at 123 Elm St, Anytown, New York, USA", or "inventory of the slave ship blah-de-blah", or "signatories of proclamation X".)

Such detail nodes will, of necessity, be much greater in number than the number of individuals alive because merger of them as applying to the same individual will be a more gradual and difficult process. This is a vital factor in infrastructure design.


So what do we know about 1750?

It's used by some sources as a baseline year for the end of the pre-industrial era; rather nice as a stake in the ground for pushing back our knowledge of individual human participation.

The population of North America is only about 2 million, thus forcing U.S. participants to think about the world outside their borders (which I think is always a good thing). It also makes an enticing early goal for "near complete description", which is the best I'd expect we can hope for in any region.

Sweden begin taking a census in 1749, one of the very few countries doing so in the mid-18th century, and is thus a logical target for another "near complete description" goal. Conveniently, it's also a good country for online project participation with its highly tech-savvy population. The 1750 estimated populations of Sweden (which I'm presuming refers to its territory then, not its smaller borders now) 1.7 million or 1.78 million. (Pleasantly for me, it's also where I am pretty certain I have personal genealogical data for 1750. Been a while since I was working on my paternal grandmother's line, but I recall it going back that far and farther thanks to the good data there.)

Iceland is also promising for early population data and participation.


Now, what haven't I considered yet?



Thought which came to mind after I went back to bed:

Every part of this idea needs further definition, but particularly the area around what defines a counted individual. Chronological confirmation of someone with a citable source is a big part of it; that is, an individual for whom we have a specific record of them being born, dying, marrying, becoming a parent, or otherwise being specifically one of those alive at some point during the year 1750.

However, those records may actually be less evocative of human experience than the categoric description associated with what I'm calling, for lack of a better term, 'unmatched individual details', or 'unmadeets'. Whose story would you be most interested in, the confirmed individual "Mary Jane Smith born 1750, later the mother of Winifred Harding", or the unmadeet "one of 350 purchased slaves who rebelled on the ship King David at 5a.m. on May 8, 1750"? Which says more about what was going on in 1750?

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 02:15 AM in creativity, history, random synaptic firing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Things that make me joyful, happy, delighted 2010

Clean sheets. Good sleep. Touching my sweetie. Fun sex. Kissing. Good cheese. Watching cocktails being made well. Delicious food, prepared with care. Having a beautiful, useful, uncluttered home. Writing, when it's going well. Learning new interesting facts. Having a good answer. Seeing others getting more focused and relaxed. Green, living things. Craftsmanship. Carefulness. Stillness. Naps. Avocado. Seascapes (in person). Optional-ness. Flexibility. Making or perceiving interconnectedness. My friends or others being clever. Being clever. Kindness. Good design. Love. Floating in warm water. Sitting and reading with my sweetie or friends. Watching semi-random motions (waves, light, birds, swimmers, boats). Northern California hills in spring. Traveling light. Nerd humor.

Posted on May 8, 2010 at 07:48 PM in Dinah - introduction, random synaptic firing, worry vs. clarity | Permalink | Comments (0)

Right. Giant purple gorilla outside my house this morning. Fine. 2006

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Posted on October 7, 2006 at 12:30 PM in random synaptic firing, San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

Animated Low Rider toy 2006


Posted on August 12, 2006 at 12:00 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Random fire hydrant fountain 2006


This kind of epitomized the way my afternoon went yesterday.

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Posted on August 7, 2006 at 12:00 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday afternoon: the Doublemint Twins ride the subway naked 2006

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Posted on July 23, 2006 at 12:01 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Please discuss. 2006

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Posted on February 27, 2006 at 12:02 PM in creativity, Food and Drink, friends & family, random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Creepy urban still life 2006

Well, maybe the scene isn't creepy; maybe I bring the creeped-out-ness to the scene. Yeah, that's it.

No, wait,; it's creepy.

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Posted on February 21, 2006 at 12:01 PM in random synaptic firing, San Francisco, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

I love the Valencia Street area window displays 2006

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Retro Fit. Honor the request of Valencia Street.
Valencia window - hobo/sailor/monster

Well dressed dead animals

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Posted on February 14, 2006 at 12:01 PM in creativity, random synaptic firing, San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

Town Shit 2006


I think this is my new name for errands.

Posted on January 13, 2006 at 12:01 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Someone else's list 2004

I wonder if Bubba has been called yet?

Posted on April 8, 2004 at 12:00 AM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

juxtaposition 2004

Spotted on my way home last night after the Other Magazine 4th issue release party and reading at Modern Times bookstore:

One of those FUNERAL signs in the window of a car with personalized plates reading ONLY JOY.

Posted on March 5, 2004 at 08:22 AM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

um, listen. 2004

Some great graffiti I saw in Emeryville.

Photo taken January 26th, 2004. Sometimes it takes a while to get it together to take the time set up your tools. Heh.

Posted on January 26, 2004 at 12:00 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oh, that old excuse 2004

According to the CDC there are 1,000 to 2,000 cases of bubonic plague worldwide each year. Can you imagine having to tell your boss that you're out sick because you have bubonic plague?

Posted on January 7, 2004 at 09:51 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (2)

I can't be the first one to have thought of this... 2003

I believe henceforth mobile phones should be referred to as mofos.

Posted on May 11, 2003 at 08:53 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (3)

Uh-oh. 2003

Is it just me or are you a bit unnerved by this Rite Aid Pharmacy slogan?

With us, it's personal.
And I'm supposed to buy medication from these guys?

Posted on March 1, 2003 at 04:10 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (3)


Posted on December 25, 2002 at 08:09 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Holidays 1998

This was a good holiday season. I went to my Mum & step-dad's place, Edgewood, for a Mendocino Christmas Eve/Christmas and then slipped across to Sonoma where my dad & step-mom had rented a big house for a second round of holiday time.

Edgewood was wonderful as it always is. Great company, great food. Mostly just sitting around having conversations, watching the plethora of birds out the windows and reading. A bookish, birdish household and very healing.

The other gathering was more rambunctious and lots of fun. The house was a little odd though. Here's the letter I wrote to Peter:


Here I am in a rental house, more a mansion really, laden with a mix of cool and aggressively ugly items. My room, regrettably, tends towards the ugly.

On my right an object to which you might think I would be endeared, a black container with a round red lid containing, according to the label, 'Joy - perfumed body creme'. It has something of it of cheap Japanese styling and also a strong aura of 'The Big Red Shiny Candy-like Button' which must not be touched. If it were the only decorative object in the room, it might be tolerable.

Alas, it is not and thus clashes horribly. There is a gold non-descript lamp also on the nightstand. And a box of Kleenex with a box pattern depicting a quilt. And there is a small assortment of perfume bottles on a little plate painted in a naive, early 70's style as a fish. The pink quilt, the red top of the "body creme" container and the orange-blue-green-yellow-&-red fish all clash violently.

Beside the nightstand is a dark wicker hamper. There is an oriental rug on the floor below the brass bed with its flowered sheets and plethora of pillows. The oriental rug is predominantly pink and the main carpet is grey. To contrast with the nightstands (of which there are four in the room) which are styled like old oak iceboxes, there is a modern (well, modern in 1980) white dresser with a slight oriental air about it.

Atop this dresser are four bizarre objects. The first is a pottery jar with a greenish-blue glaze with a plain clay gecko (or some sort of lizard) crawling on the side. This lizard is the size of a rat. The other three items are carved wooden animals over a foot in length. They are painted very bright colors, well two of them are. There is a huge one and a half foot tall coyote-like thing with a blue body, a white face and enormous pink and teal ears. Its expression was so disturbing I turned it to face away from me, so it wouldn't be the first thing I saw in the morning, at which point its tail fell off. There is something I am hard-pressed to identify. I think it is an elephant, but the carver was clearly on some sort of hallucinogens because its overall shape is more piglike except for its long brush of a tail, pink spots on its blue body, enormous diamond-shaped pink & teal ears and huge drooping tusks that give it the appearance of having been caught midway through consumption of two albino anacondas. The fourth item is actually quite naturally colored and shaped and is a rather appealling zebra. Except for the small problem that the only piece of it present is its head. Most disconcerting.

Above this ensemble is a large 2' x 4' print labeled 'Contemporary Art - The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston' which shows a still life of a pretty party table of excessively bright colored objects. Pink & yellow are the dominant colors. Above that, crossing the plain white wall, is a solid natural dark wooden beam about a foot high. And then then white vault of the ceiling and an off-center ceiling fan with rattan decor in the blades.

Bad enough so far, wouldn't you say? Ah but we're only a third of the way around the room! Next to one of the ubiquitous nightstands is a completely unnecessary delicate little Victorian table, round, short, barely large enough for a doily and a saucer of tea.

There is a tiny little stereo sitting on a sort of bench-cum-bookcase across from the foot of the bed. The bench seems to have a somewhat churchy air about it (vaguely medieval, vaguely Roman) and is full of gardening books. Apart from the stereo the top is bare except for a dry branch mounted in a stand (the branch is not unlike the one the Grinch tied to Max's head midway through the sawing-off-bits process) and a large purple glass apple. Above this is a mirror in a cheap wood frame with stained glass around the edges - white and a green which miraculously fails to find an echo anywhere else in the room.

There is a television atop the third nightstand-icebox thing. And a bentwood magazine rack. And a bamboo chest of quasi-Mongolian style. This chest is flanked by two enormous, um, well, uh, urns, I suppose. Big pottery objects.They are covered with Southwestern motifs and do not match except in that they are both bigass semi-spheres which would probably cause about 18 Zuni apiece to spin in their graves. There is a bright red telescope sitting on the chest which I almost forgot to mention.

Almost back around to the bed again, we encounter a fake ficus-ish tree in a brown wicker basket. Above it is a picture depicting, in a naive folk art style, a French cityscape of about 1900. Beside the bed's left-hand nightstand is a brass lampstand rising from the floor to curlicued top and supporting, via a broken crosspiece, a lacey glass shade with a pink border. Partway up this otherwise Victorian object is a ball of marble with a natural earthy appearance. Inexplicable.

On the nightstand are two pale-green pottery pieces sporting pale green crawling lizards. And a little lidded dish in the shape of a rabbit. The bedspread is applicued in a design indicative of bunches of grapes & leaves, but the presence on the bed when I entered of three stuffed bunnies (one brown and teddybear-like, the other two wearing flowered jumpsuits and pink bows) lends a somewhat different interpretation to a field of small round lumps.

All in all, I would be hard-pressed to render this room any less harmonious or soothing to the eye. I trust it shall improve considerably when I turn out the light.


Here was my day: wake at 9am, shower, run out of hot water, rinse off shampoo with lukewarm water and towel off vigorously to recover from chill. Eat a banana and a couple pieces of cranberry bread and a half a cup of coffee. Get in the car and be driven to a gourmet food store. Sample mustards, olive oils and other dips. Pour back into car, nibbling bittersweet chocolate and proceed to the Culinary Institute of America for lunch. Appetizers: excellent bread and olive oil, stuffed calimari, grilled shrimp, dolmas, mini-pizza with carmelized onions and goat cheese, mini-falafel in pita, filled potato tortilla thing, olives, almonds. With this meal I enjoyed a Sidecar (classic cocktail) and a half glass of Dehlinger Pinot Noir, both very good. After the appetizer came a phenomenal wild mushroom soup with onions and cheese-sprinkled croutons - like an astounding french onion soup, toned down and infused with mushroomy goodness. Then my steak arrived with garlic mashed potatoes and dripping with delicious pan juices. Dessert really wasn't an option.

After dinner we went down to the CIA store and I spent my Xmas mad-money (courtesy of my stepmom, Lindy) on some nice kitchen things including a cheese knife and an ice-cracking bag & mallet for making cocktails. We returned to the house, stopping at the gourmet market to pick up the goodies we'd picked for dinner. Most of the party went to Ravenswood winery, so the house was quiet and I chose that time for a lovely solitary soak in the hot tub. First it was birdwatching, then sunset watching, then as the first stars came out I extracted my pink self from the steaming water and went inside for a refreshing shower - with enough hot water this time.

While I had been soaking and daydreaming, the others had returned and by the time I was dressed, preparations for dinner were underway. We had a small buffet of exotic cheeses, excellent bread, tapinade, pate, olives, intriguing mustards, fuji apples and a nice bottle of Merlot from Ravenswood. After we'd been nibbling on all this and socializing in the living room, my stepbrother Michael and his sweetie Deanna came downstairs with a sublime feast: scallops in curry cream sauce. To die for! I don't remember much of the rest of the evening except wandering around in a food-enduced bliss."

Posted on December 29, 1998 at 07:01 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Breasts 1998

"Do you like boobs a lot?" Apart from being a catchy song, it's an important question to ask yourself. I think most people like breasts. And many people like breasts a whole hell of a lot. Trouble is, breasts, especially those in the San Francisco Bay Area, are likely to get cancer. So if you have breasts, you should learn how to examine them and find out dietary and other changes you can make to help reduce your risk of cancer. And if you like other people's breasts and they let you touch 'em, then you should learn how to examine them too. I mean, it's not as much fun as just touching them for the hell of it, but wouldn't you like them to stick around? It's easy:

How to Do a Breast Self-Exam Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
At the same time each month, check for any changes in the normal look or feel of your breasts. Look for a lump, hard knot, or skin that thickens or dimples. Report any changes to your doctor or nurse. Go for regular breast exams and Pap tests. Ask about a mammogram.
Check your breasts using these steps:
Lying down: Place a pillow under your right shoulder. Put your right hand under your head. Check your entire breast area with the finger pads of your left hand. Use small circles and follow an up-and-down pattern. Use light, medium, and firm pressure over each area of your breast. Gently squeeze the nipple for any discharge. Repeat these steps on your left breast.
Before a mirror: Check for any changes in the shape or look of your breasts. Note any skin or nipple changes such as dimpling or nipple discharge. Inspect your breasts in four steps: arms at side, arms overhead, hands on hips pressing firmly to flex chest muscles, and bending forward.
In the shower: Raise your right arm. With soapy hands and fingers flat, check your right breast. Use the same small circles and up-and-down pattern described in "Lying Down." Repeat on your left breast.
Illustrations & text courtesy of The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

You can find more info via your friendly neighborhood search engine. [This post was originally under a section called "random synaptic firings" which was linked from the page about Dinah. The rsf section held longer, generally more emotional writings and was the precursor to my blog].

Posted on November 18, 1998 at 08:00 PM in Eclectic Encyclopedia, health, random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Passion 1998

After midnight and I'm sipping some single-malt (12-year Glenmorgangie port wood finish), listening to Thomas Dolby's "Budapest By Blimp" and reading something Peter wrote called "I want my passion back".

I've got passion and ideas and opportunities. I've got a burning desire. I'm ready to make bold leaps, try new things, create futures, but I'm chained to paying off student loans, personal loans, credit cards I ran up in the course of my business not being able to pay me, of getting out of a living situation that had become intolerable, of living higher on the hog than was prudent, and later of moving on from a relationship that no longer worked to create a space all my own for the first time.

I bought my present time with my future.

And was it worth it?


But I still want more.
So, I back up a track and find "The Ability to Swing".

Posted on October 14, 1998 at 12:54 AM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

bookstore 1998

I finally got home from work after driving all over looking for a copy of Beginning Active Server Pages 2.0. <yawn>

Fourth time lucky.
Kepler's in Menlo Park had it. A lovely store, I'm always happy to give them my business and even more so this time because I ran into Laurie with whom I used to work at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in Cupertino. A fine human being. So it was all very pleasant for 2+ hours spent driving from store to store looking for something and I am very cheerful.

And I swear I didn't buy those cards just so I could go back and talk to that gorgeous creature behind the counter some more. I mean, I had other reasons. I even know who the cards are for. Honest.

Mmm, bookstore boys.

[This post was originally under a section called "random synaptic firings" which was linked from the page about Dinah. The rsf section held longer, more emotional writings and was the precursor to my blog].

Posted on October 6, 1998 at 08:08 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

contact 1998

Eleanor Arroway played by Jodi Foster
Any faith that admires truth, that strives to know God, must be brave enough to accomodate the universe. I mean the real universe. All those light-years. All those worlds. I think of the scope of your universe, the opportunities it affords the Creator, and it takes my breath away. It's much better than bottling Him up in one small world. I never liked the idea of Earth as God's green footstool...like a tranquilizer. But your universe has room enough, and time enough, for the kind of God I believe in

- Carl Sagan, Contact

A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.

-Arthur C. Clarke

[This post was originally under a section called "random synaptic firings" which was linked from the page about Dinah. The rsf section held longer, more emotional writings and was the precursor to my blog].

Posted on October 5, 1998 at 09:45 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

connectivity 1998

God, I love the Web.

I love creating for it and I love exploring other people's creations. And that's what I feel like doing right now, but I'm supposed to be working on my project. Not that I don't love my project; the more I work on it, the more I enjoy it.

Tugging at the corners of my mind right now:
Peter Merholz's site and all his wonderful links.
Peter's latest piece on user-centered information design.
Karawynn's journal.
Exploring more of Justin's vast site.
Exploring the rest of the
art site I found
while looking for Saelon to recommend her to Peter. (And the other one I just found getting that URL again).
Checking to see if Taylor's up to anything new since signal2noise.
Exploring more of the sites belonging to people in my second degree (that's the people connected to the people I'm connected to on sixdegrees.com -- I keep finding the best sites that way!).

But I need to work on the project, so that's what I'll do.

Completion of my degree shimmers like a beautiful mirage on my horizon.
I hope.

Did you have time to give me feedback on my project yet? I'd really appreciate it...

[This post was originally under a section called "random synaptic firings" which was linked from the page about Dinah. The rsf section held longer, more emotional writings and was the precursor to my blog].

Posted on October 3, 1998 at 07:29 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Met 1998

I say I've never met Karawynn, Jamie, Carl and Justin. What the fuck does that mean?

I sit next to someone on the bus, I shake hands with a co-worker's client who I'll never see again, I chat with the bank teller and somehow these are people I've met?

Karawynn tells me about her darkest most depressing moments and sings the little song about her vibrator, Jamie lets me see out his window through his eyes and carefully shows me how to make something special that he made just to please himself, Carl makes me laugh and sigh and whispers sexy somethings in my ear, Justin shows off his pretty garters and gives me his thoughts on everything, especially the stuff that's usually kept private, and somehow these are people I've never met?

My body doesn't encompass me.
I don't have to breathe the same air to be in the same place as you.

Have we met?

Posted on September 29, 1998 at 11:45 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm hoping these are unrelated thoughts 1984

I want someone near me, someone to learn and grow towards.

I wish I knew what happened to that check.

Posted on June 29, 1984 at 10:37 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blog (noun) A weblog or similar brief journal usually containing links and commentary thereon. Term coined by Peter Merholz.

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Except where otherwise noted all content is copyright 1965-2015 Dinah Sanders. Please do not repost my writing or other creations elsewhere. Instead, copy a tiny bit and link to the rest. Thanks! Images are copyright of their original creators. MetaGrrrl logo and photos by Dinah are copyright 1965-2015 Dinah Sanders. Inkspot Books and the Inkspot logo have been Service Marks of Dinah Sanders since 1993.