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July 21, 2003

Particulate matter
Posted by Teresa at 02:16 PM *

I’ve been having fun with Particles, a micro-weblog whose first ten entries automatically show up as a list in the top left-hand corner of Making Light. (You can see the whole thing by clicking on MORE at the bottom of the list.) I’m not a fast writer, but I tend to find a lot of odd links, so turning the excess into one-liners seems like a reasonable compromise.

Also, frankly, over the years I’ve accumulated bookmarks like some dotty old ladies accumulate cats. I’m forever trying to sort them out rationally, but then I get distracted trying to figure out why I bookmarked some unlikely page … and I absentmindedly click on an interesting-looking link … and another … and when I finally emerge from the infowooze some long time later, not only have the bookmarks not been sorted and culled, but I’ve added several more to the heap.

I would never want the world to be less interesting. The fault is entirely my own.

Anyway, I’m finding that for some reason, going through my vast tidal swamp of bookmarks with an eye toward turning them into Particles links seems to keep me a bit more on track. What I don’t know is whether anyone else is finding them amusing. One has these moments of wondering whether they all just add up to an embarrassingly accurate map of one’s intellect and sensibilities. Elizabethan names for colors: now there’s a real thigh-slapper, you betcha …

Comments on Particulate matter:
#1 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 04:47 PM:

Breathes there a man with soul so dead that he does not treasure learning that there was a greenish color called "Dying Spaniard"?

#2 ::: Jon Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 04:50 PM:

Collect away. I've been enjoying the particles quite a bit; best part is seeing what's on the other side of the hook, um, link.

In short: I'm highly amused.

#3 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 04:59 PM:

It's about tied for degree of pleased between 'new comments' and 'new Particles links' for my part; I have been bookmarking no few of them on my own behalf.

#4 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 05:14 PM:

I've enjoyed the Particles; certes, 'tis more elegant than my solution to the bookmark heap.

Given Circolwyrde wordhorde, should I assume you know about the Vocabula computatralia? If not, should I mention it?


#5 ::: Elise Matthesen ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 05:24 PM:

Elizabethan names for colors: now there92s a real thigh-slapper, you betcha 85

Oh, but Teresa, I loved that one. Not only did it provide several minutes of Big Fun, it also reminded me to go look something up that resulted in a major vindication. Major, major, major. (Well, probably only important to me, myself, and I, but still. It was about the dye brazilwood, and the fact that the country of Brazil was named after it. Years ago, I was vending some color sample cards at Pennsic, for the use of some folks who find natural dyes useful and interesting. I was talking to a customer about brazilwood. The customer had expressed surprise that I was purveying info on New World dyestuffs. I got to the bit about Brazil having been named after the dye and not the other way around, and at that point a big name peer of the realm who had been looking at my wares turned his back with a rather grand sweep and stalked away. I now have the urge to post the relevant info in my journal and say, "Neener, fookin' neener, man.")

Anyhow, um, thank you for that. Particles good. TNH random travelog of intellect and sensibilities good. Vindication also sometimes v. good. Thanks for the pleasures of all of those.

#6 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 05:31 PM:

I quite like them and am adding a number to my own untidy bookmarks pile, but when I click on any of the links on the one that starts out, "In skiffy..." I get the following error message


You must supply a local referer to get URL '/p1/fsq51sp.jpg' from this server.

#7 ::: rr ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 05:52 PM:

Delightful! I treasure this blog for it's eccentric and fascinating links.

#8 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 05:52 PM:

I am SO glad I'm not the only one with the "bookmark disease"!
BTW, 'ventre de biche' for reddish-white? Love it!

#9 ::: Jefalen ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 06:12 PM:

The Particles usually lead me to something that significantly brightens my day, increases my knowledge or both. I blame you entirely and thank you wholeheartedly.

#10 ::: Jon Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 06:22 PM:

Mary Kay, if you want to make with the images in "In skiffy...," then just go to the web address ( and then you can get them. It will take a whle to find them, of course...

#11 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 06:27 PM:

Mary Kay:

Once you get the 403 message, reload the page (try hitting return rather than using a reload key or menu item) and the graphic should appear. Apparently "no referer" is close enough to a "local referer."


#12 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 08:18 PM:

I loved the Elizabethan colors link! I don't often get to combine my textiles obsession with my history-of-language ditto. Your sensibilities seem to be very close to my own, and I don't even have to do my own link-finding. Intellectual stimulation for the lazy woman, yay!

#13 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 08:21 PM:

What's even more fun sometimes is firing up your older Macs or PCs and rediscovering older versions of Netscape with bookmarks considered of burning import way back in...oh, 1997.

#14 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 08:41 PM:

I dearly enjoy your links in Particles as much as the comments since discovering your site. Who knows? You might even post a site with a reference to a lopsided battle that will inspire me in my writing. Okay, I admit it, I like to root for the underdog and am not above using a historical precedent on which to base a battle in my own writing so that it will be more realistic.

Aside from that, I've already found that the Wm. Spear site features a pin of a Plesiosaur. I might have to order that to wear when my manuscript for An Age of Heroes is published as it features a creature very similar to it.

So, keep on posting. You're doing great.

#15 ::: spacewaitress ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 08:42 PM:

Is there a bit of code or a plug-in that lets you do this? I have a Movable Type blog and I'd like to implement one of these. Is it very hard to do? Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks.

It's funny; I didn't notice your sideblog until today. I've been enjoying PNH's for some time; maybe it's because his is on the right, and so easier to see.

#16 ::: Jesse ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 10:26 PM:

I love the sidebars. This may be overly honest, but I've enjoyed them more than the main section over the last couple of days.

#17 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 10:32 PM:

Reloading the 'skiffy' 403 didn't do it in my browser, so I had to go to the url Jon posted. It did take a fair while to find the referenced image, mainly because of the entertaining surroundings, but I got there eventually. Nope, no subtext there, not a bit of it. Nothing to see, move along...

#18 ::: Ter ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 10:57 PM:

I always check out the top left links before the entries, because there's nothing like a catchy headline.

Elizabethan names for colors: now there’s a real thigh-slapper, you betcha...

I have files (paper and electronic) with information like this. I used to be a theatrical costumer. Learning period details is part of the research, but also, there are long hours of sewing in a group where the chat roams all over trivia and back again.

#19 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 11:29 PM:

Well, I bought my sweetie a birthday present from the champlevé pins link; so that's three people happy: myself, my sweetie, and the maker.

#20 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 11:50 PM:

I've been wanting to work in a reference to the "particles" for awhile now. (Ditto for the ones on Patrick's blog.) They're great! Thank you. A few of them have wormed their way into my own bookmarks.

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 12:11 AM:

If you guys are amused, then I'm happy.

Avram, I like imagining the conversations:

Customer: I'll have three ells of your broad woollen.
Mercer: Very good, sir. What color did you have in mind?
Customer: Puke.
Mercer: Puke it is. Did you need thread to match?
Customer: No. I have a couple of spools of puke left over from my last doublet.

Larry, I don't think Particles is more elegant than your solution; only a little better-formatted, perhaps, but that's Movable Type's doing, not mine.

And no, I hadn't been aware of the Vocabula Computatralia. I shall have to post it, with thanks. Obligatory quibble, because Graydon did it when I first acquainted him with the Circolwyrde wordhorde: I would have thought "home page" would be better rendered as something like pagina prima; their pagina domestica is merely literal.

Elise, I'm glad I vindicated you, but I would have thought that anyone who affected to care as much as yr. nameless peer did would have already known that it was named for the dyestuff. Tra-la, blow raspberry, pass onward.

Mary Kay, I was about to tell you to just reload the page when I noticed that Bob Webber had done it for me. It's a weird glitch.

Emma, the French named a rose of a particularly tender shade of pink "cuisse de nymphe", which, if less sharply descriptive, takes better to being in polite company.

John, I've been cleaning out some of those bookmarks. Remember when we thought that memorable URLs mattered?

Dave K., there's always Agincourt; that's a nice one for lopsided victories under difficult conditions. But there are so many others to play with -- Morgarten, the Marianas Turkey Shoot, the Battle of New Orleans, the Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1940, Thermopylae, Chamberlain holding the left end of the line at Gettysburg, and that's only as many as I can think of off the top of my head and type while holding my breath -- that it would make more sense for you to specify flavor, duration, amount of tech, degree of grimness, etc., and have us recommend some battles for you. And of course you should use historical precedents for your battles. Everyone does that who has any sense. It's hard to make up a really believable battle from scratch. Fortunately, with as many of 'em as we have to choose from, there's no need to do so.

If you want something gratifyingly improbable, wait until Macdonald comes home from his annual stint as a scoutmaster, and ask him about the three engineers who got cut off from their unit during the Battle of the Bulge and managed to seriously impede a large chunk of the German advance.

Spacewaitress, ask Patrick how to do it. He figured it out after seeing someone else's weblog that was similarly equipped.

Jesse, not to worry. I've been enjoying the sidebars too.

Clew, that's nice to hear, but which one was it?

#22 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 12:52 AM:

Okay, Movable Type bloggers, how to do this for yourself:

(1) Create a second blog on the same site as your main blog.

(2) Get and install David Raynes's Movable Type plugin MTOtherBlog.

(3) Use MTOtherBlog to syndicate posts from your secondary blog to a chosen location (like the sidebar) of your first.

To see how it's done in Making Light's index template, load "" and then view source. Search for "MTOtherBlog". The chunk of code you'll find will be obviously adaptable to your needs.

Note: To get your secondary blog's unique "blog_id" number, which you'll need, go to your MT installation's main menu screen--the one that lists all of your MT blogs--and hover your mouse over the listing for the secondary blog, while looking at your browser's status bar.

To vary the number of entries displayed on the sidebar, change the value of "lastn". Obviously, there are other things you can and probably should also vary.

Entire idea stolen from Greg Greene. Go take a look at his implementation, which differs from mine and Teresa's in interesting ways.

NB: MTOtherBlog is also how Teresa and I make headlines from one another's weblogs appear in each of our respective sidebars.

#23 ::: Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 12:55 AM:

I'm also enjoying the Particles; random-idea trolling tools are what the Web is all about. In terms of bookmark management, though, it's like swimming against the tide. If I had a blog, a Particles-type function would help me winnow my bookmarks (which I've been trying to do anyway), but meanwhile your use of Particles is adding to my bookmarks. I'm pretty sure addition is happening faster than subtraction.

The links work a little weirdly sometimes. The "in skiffy" entry actually consists of eight different one-word links, all of which link to the same non-available image (which then shows up on reload). At first I thought there was some terrifying crypto-significance there too deep for my understanding, but I've decided to ignore the potential crypto-significance and now life is okay. Although apparently I have to worry about breaking my rocketship.

#24 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 12:57 AM:

"The 'in skiffy' entry actually consists of eight different one-word links, all of which link to the same non-available image"

Not quite. Try clicking between the words.

Fiendish, these Teresas.

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 01:30 AM:

Well, subtext, ya know?

#26 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 01:35 AM:

1:30 AM! Dear! Go to sleep!

Remember, you have to go into Tor and teach Liz the Dark Art of Frontmatter.

#27 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 02:39 AM:

Hmmm . . . I'm always making it to the party late.

I've been meaning to confiess to a Particles addiction, Textweek has already become a standard tool . . .

#28 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 04:14 AM:

I just like "infowooze". It so exactly describes the space in which one is becalmed.

#29 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 07:42 AM:

Well, count my thigh among the slapped...

So, by Elizabethan times Crimson had already made the transition from a kind of woolen fabric, noted for both a blue and a red that took very well to it, into a shade of vivid red that we presume is based on that original successful red dye? Hmm--when did that transition occur? The window is now down to only 250 years.

Oops--was I typing out loud? Sorry...

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 08:23 AM:

I love the particles too. FWIW.

#31 ::: Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 11:41 AM:

Suffering soup spoons. This is what I get for ignoring crypto-significance.

I mean, wow.

#32 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 01:55 PM:

(I got my sweetie a squid pin, which is very nicely accurate; and also a "Spawn Til You Die" and a Synapse.)

Something disconcerting about the skiffy covers: the dress-sense predictions weren't all that bad. Young women in skintight clothes with cutouts; guys still wearing khaki trousers and putting too much stuff in the pockets.

Well. I guess stuffing a pocket is subtext.

#33 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 02:12 PM:

A wonderful collection of the weird and wonderful so far; keep it up :)

But the entry for `July 00' is probably a bug...

#34 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 02:34 PM:

Pagina prima would be better. It's a distressingly English-centric collection of Latin words.

The formatting worked a lot better when there were only, say, a dozen randomizers and text transformation tools out there.


#35 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 04:14 PM:

I have to say, I loved the link text for "Women have poor spatial perception".

Oh, and the "So long, Strom" link should probably be to though I had fun paging back through Marlette's more recent cartoons to find that one.

#36 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 06:07 PM:

How excellent. I feel compelled to share.

Gothic Martha Stewart - the "summer picks" sidebar lists "Smash Dragon eggs at your next Picnic!" as a fun activity.

Mambo Movers - These people move your furniture. They also have an avant-garde website which features "the accurate description of their services, conditions, and heroic deeds."

Illusory Foods in the Renaissance - want to make your grilled peacock breathe fire? Find out how here.
Interactive Lite-Brite - low technology, meet high technology.

#37 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2003, 10:04 AM:

That list of Elizabethan colors had correspondences for DMC floss! That's not just interesting, it's positively practical!

Okay, for certain definitions of "practical." But there's a crewelwork pocket I've been meaning to do...

#38 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2003, 01:49 AM:

Mercer: Alas and lamentations, goodman sir, we have but two and a quarter ells of goodly puke. May I suggest a fimbriation of murrey?

Customer: Not Margaret-Murrey.

Mercer: 'S'turnip, milord, nay. Despite the dagging that thou showest so divinely, wouldst never proffer that thou prank'st in thy patens, as 'tis said among the French.

Customer: Well enow. But I do see that my purse runs light by two remunerations and half-guerdon-farthing. May we come to some understanding?

Mercer: Ah, 'tis ever thus. Might I suggest that sir wrap his hatrack in these three ells of stuff, and with the smallest of urgings colour it native-pukely, yea, and wet himself for mordant?

-- From "The Witty Weavers of Walmsley," W. S. (desperately attrib.)

#39 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2003, 01:01 PM:

I must remember to use S'turnip the next time I'm writing forsoothily. Must.


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