Monthly Archives: September 2004

ELF to shut down

Navy plans to scrap ELF

Transmissions to end at Clam Lake September 30


The Daily Press

Last Updated: Monday, September 20th, 2004 09:48:11 AM

The U.S. Navy has announced that it will shut down the controversial Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Communications System on September 30, ending operations at the Two ELF transmitter facilities located near Clam Lake and Michigan’s Escanaba State Forest.

I remember going with my Dad to the Pentagon back in the 1970s to see cross-sections of sample cables for a predecessor of this system, Project Seafarer. At one point the plan was to build a giant grid across large parts of the U.P. and push 800 megawatts of power through it. Good to see it shut down.

UPDATE 5/06:

A 2001 piece on Zevs, a Russian ELF transmitter, from an Italian site focusing on Radio Waves below 22 kHz.


Send a postcard

Some thoughts about sending postcards, for my “Great Weird Ideas” series.

I learned how to write postcards from my grandfather Marshall Kay, a geologist. He would send cards from his field trips, and thought I don’t have any of them I still remember getting a few scrawled words on a card from some far-away place. My cousin and I still keep in touch best with funny cards and occasional phone calls, much more fun than just getting emails. (Some pages referencing my grandfather refer to his work on geosynclines – some day I’ll piece together a proper retrospective through his students who are in the midst of retiring now.)

Send a postcard to Eric, a preemie in the hospital for a few months – it will cheer him and his family up. check the link first to make sure that the address is still right (I won’t include it here).

There are a bunch of places that will do custom art cards or book cards or advertising cards in q 250 or so. I have a hard time thinking how I’d hand-address that many cards. I’ve heard people say good things about Modern Postcard, but I won’t link to them directly since I have no direct experience.

Sue Braiden from Windsor, Ontario, a journalist for the CBC, is looking for simple ways to build healthier communities. I contributed my send a postcard idea there.

My neighborhood email list in the New York Times

Pam Hoffer writes in today’s New York Times letters to the editor for the Circuits section:

To the Editor:

Re “Who’s Knocking at the Door? Check Your E-Mail First” (Aug. 26): Our neighborhood has been connected since 1997, when we convened at a potluck to develop a neighborhood inventory.

Each person or family brought a list of things we use infrequently enough to feel easy about loaning out to others.

What neighborhood really needs more than one long extension ladder, for instance?

This project is now, via a chat group, helping us connect in more ways than just sharing stuff. People put out the word when they need a ride, referrals for sitters, cleaners, gardening advice, etc.

We organized a neighborhood garage sale and barbecue dinner fest to benefit another neighborhood in a poverty pocket in the next town.

The power of neighborhoods’ organizing is considerable and brings great pleasure to everyone involved. It is a very portable idea.


Ann Arbor, Mich.

(thanks to eagle-eye Nano for picking this out)

Write down the made-up bedtime stories

It’s time to start writing down the stories I tell Saul at bedtime. We have a standard repertoire of a few stories that we go through, mostly involving his stuffed dog Otto and Otto’s friends going on the Link bus downtown to the library, food coop, Cafe Ambrosia, and sometimes the beach. At the minimum, I should be able to write down the standard story around which all of the others are built so that we can have a memory of it later on when he doesn’t carry a toy dog around with him. Deb wrote down and made a little book of the paper route story I used to tell him, which was really wonderful to see.

Telling and making up stories at bedtime is a way we talk about what has happened during the day, and it’s a lot of fun to do. As of late I have been prompting him more to fill in the blanks in the stories, and he’s a lot more creative than I ever am in deciding where to take the story next. I learned the other day that there’s not just a Purple Link bus line but also Orange and Brown lines (probably from the same lines in the Chicago El system).

As he gets older the stories will change and will reflect different parts of his life than they do now. I suppose I’ll start to hear about Otto going to school and riding his scooter around the neighborhood. What’s particularly fun about the storytelling is that I’ve gotten better at the story that takes me from one place to another through a landscape, telling tales of what happens as the characters encounter new situations. That set of skills I can use even more as time goes on.

Storytelling and a book of great weird ideas

This shouldn’t be too hard to do; I already have hundreds of posts on the net all fetchable with Google so some of them at least should be findable and reusable for the task.

I’m doing an extended brainstorming exercise to generate 150 (or 70, or even 20) great weird ideas. Great weird ideas run the gamut from life-changing endeavors to small tweaks to the way simple tasks get done. After putting each one out into the world to get a reaction, I’ll assemble these smaller pieces into some larger book-like information architecture that makes sense of them as a bigger whole, that lets you see where to take them to and which ones to act on.

Each story will be written up in roughly the same way. Write three short paragraphs of introduction and explanation, and why it’s great, or weird, or otherwise important. Provide some context with links to a few other related ideas, or include a picture, category or tag. In some way these need to flow together, though in the mood of “writing down the bones” the flow might only be that they all come from the same person. I can tag some in the blog, then throw more tagging in with

I should be able to sift through a ton of stuff that I’ve already written to find the germs of ideas, then boil each of them down to a standard and short and easy to write page. I’m good at the three paragraph essay, fifteen or twenty sentences, written as fast as possible and fitting neatly on a computer screen. It doesn’t need to be an encyclopedia like “A Pattern Language” or “Home Comforts”, just a good collection of good stories about things that aren’t yet but should be.

Sister Helen Prejean, The Death of Innocents

Another book in progress – worth looking forward to:

I’m about to publish my second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions. My first book was Dead Man Walking, first published in 1993. I never dreamed one little book could have such power to unleash discussion and debate. Tim Robbin’s film happened in 1996 (Susan S. got the Acad. Award for her portrayal of me) Terrence McNally and Jake Heggie composed the opera, which premiered in San Francisco in 2000 and now makes it way around the world. I also get on the road and give talks to civic groups, universities, churches and synagogues – a lot of talks over the past twenty years. It’s amazing what happens to audiences as they hear stories and get information about the death penalty. They change their views and form long lines to sign the petition calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. It’s just that a lot of people are sleeping. They just need waking up. I’ve been amazed at their good hearts, their decency. They really don’t want the government to kill people but they’ve had no one to bring them close to the issue of the death penalty and wake them up.

Kay Redfield Jamison, “Exuberance”

It’s due out next month. An excerpt from the Random House web site:

Exuberance is an abounding, ebullient, effervescent emotion. It is kinetic and unrestrained, joyful, irrepressible. It is not happiness, although they share a border. It is instead, at its core, a more restless, billowing state. Certainly it is no lulling sense of contentment: exuberance leaps, bubbles, and overflows, propels its energy through troop and tribe. It spreads upward and outward, like pollen toted by dancing bees, and in this carrying ideas are moved and actions taken. Yet exuberance and joy are fragile matter. Bubbles burst; a wince of disapproval can cut dead a whistle or abort a cartwheel. The exuberant move above the horizon, exposed and vulnerable.

UPDATE 11/14/05:

For more reading in this vein look for works on “positive psychology”, including these:

Authentic Happiness (Martin Seligman)

Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship (Ross School of Business)

More Kay Jamison links:

Kay Redfield Jamison – Speech at University of Melbourne