Thomas Boutell

A father, a dancer, an open source guru. Occasionally a poet. Not quite Buckaroo Bonzai, but close.

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I had an odd dream this morning. Roxanne and I were living in a house, and there was a girl of about thirteen there who looked like a Romulan we'd met once. She had been living in the house surreptitiously ever since we met the Romulan. When I came across her, I calmed myself and asked questions.

You're friends with young Curtis now? He didn't tell us you were here. That's a little strange. Are you going to school? Sort of, she said.

But she seemed very excited. "She has nominated me herself," she told me.

Come again? "The Romulan remembers your kindness and that is why she left me to grow here. And now she has nominated me to become herself."

I had complex feelings. Should I hide her from the Romulan? Let her grow into her own person instead of being the Romulan's next body? But is that even how it works? Is this their natural means of reproduction? A cultural tradition? Some awful Never Let Me Go thing? She didn't seem afraid.

I wanted to ask her: will she/you remember this life?

But I should have asked her: how do you feel about it?

Wait, was the new girl a Romulan?
She looked like a Romulan, but WAS she a Romulan?
(asking for a friend)

I posted this to Facebook on time last night, then I just had to get some shuteye. Sorry I'm late, creative accountability pardners.

Creative prompts from Aaron Humphrey: Nicholas If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned Barbon, a candelabra, "the wifi is down."

YouTube absolutely crucified the audio here. I don't know why. It pains me to say this but it sounds way the hell better on Facebook. Lyrics below, it would be nice if you could hear them.

Some people
Some people make
Some people make it up as they go along

Some people
Some people can
Some people can do anything they want

Some people
Some people will
Some people will say anything

Some people
Some people have
Some people have a lot of fucking nerve

An asymptotic curve
Approaching infinity, ay ay o
You thought you were the grasping man’s Galileo

And the only thing that bothers you
Is posterity

So you wrote and wrote and lectured with
Such clarity

And you tried to sell the rights to what you’d never owned
As the lord protector shoved the sword back in the stone
As you fought the lawyers in the street
I admit that part was kind of sweet
But you did it all for you and you alone
Nicholas Barbon

Now I don’t
Now I don’t know
Now I don’t know how to get along
Without your shiny toys

Now I see
Now I see why
Now I see why the end of every song
Became a royalty check

Now I’m insured against
All acts of God
You’re betting that he won’t show up
The cobbler’s kids are wonderfully shod

And if the candelabra ever falls
You’ll have plenty of time to pack and skip town
While we’re all still asking why the wifi is down

And you tried to sell the rights to what you’d never owned
As the lord protector shoved the sword back in the stone
As you fought the lawyers in the street
I admit that part was kind of sweet
But you did it all for you and you alone
Nicholas Barbon

11/17 '17 7 Comments
I have to respond to this using the Liz Lerman method, because I don't just like this, I have questions and thoughts.

MOST MEMORABLE/MEANINGFUL ELEMENTS: The simplicity of the verses when contrasted with the bridge. The human, accessible, "yes this song is about me" -ness of the verses.
"The cobbler's kids are wonderfully shod."
"An asymptotic curve
Approaching infinity, ay ay o
You thought you were the grasping man’s Galileo."
It was meaningful to me that you alluded to his middle name without straight-out using it.

Why did you choose to avoid deliberately using his middle name?
Do you feel that Barbon's work as one of the first proponents of the free market makes him a forerunner of Creative Commons licenses? Is that why you used the phrase, "the wifi is down?"

I think your points about Nicholas Barbon are excellent and relevant to life today. I think this is an important song, though it needs some practice and refinement: I'm well aware that this is a first or early draft.

I have an opinion about your guitar playing and the melody, which could be helpful, or not. Do you want to read it here, or should I keep it to myself?
Lindsay Harris-Friel 11/19 '17edited
Go for it. I'm well aware that picking up my guitar twice a week for an hour doesn't really improve my game...
Thomas Boutell 11/19 '17
I wasn't going to say, "practice more," but practice never hurts.

What I was going to say is, when you are really relaxed and confident with playing this musical composition (it's clear this song is new to you, as it should be), write a second guitar part to go with it and fill it out. You may find that having a guitarist and songwriter who is unbiased about this song may be a good choice to write that, rather than having you do it, because they may be able to see a contrast of your melody more easily than you can.

Really, you shouldn't have a second person write the second guitar part, you should just write it when and if you feel like it. I know nothing about music composition. But, I benefit from my collaborators having a different perspective on my work than I do, so my gut always tells me to say, "find a collaborator!" when that may be totally unnecessary. Which is why you should take my opinion with a grain of salt.
Thank you for all this!
Thomas Boutell 11/19 '17
I used the phrase "the WiFi is down" because it was assigned 😁 I may or may not have succeeded in writing a verse about how if you pull off a big enough insurance sale, it takes an act of God that would shut down civilization anyway for you to go broke.

The song is a bit scathing but my actual views on him are more sympathetic. Whadda fuckin' guy.

His middle name is really long and would take the song over... Or maybe drive a great verse about the English revolution and the dawn of free market theology. Hmm.
Thomas Boutell 11/19 '17
I forgot the phrase was assigned. And it was right there in front of me. D'Oh. See how I got pulled in?

His middle name would entirely take the song over.
You know what I really want? I want somebody good to run with one of these songs. I'm even OK with them chucking the music entirely if they dig the words.
Thomas Boutell 11/20 '17

E                          D

Teach your kitties Python,


Teach your kitties Perl,

E                           D

Teach your kitties C++,

A       B              E

That’ll melt their world.


Teach your kitties Fortran,

Hey they’ll always eat.

Teach your kitties COBOL,

Join the obsolete elite!


Teach your kitties JavaScript,

Now they are confused.

Teach your kitties Eiffel, it’s

A skill they’ll never use!


E                      D

Kitties haven’t got much RAM

E                                 B

They can’t draw UML diagrams

But all the boss on Upwork knows:

They’re experts on stack overflow


When you’re kitty’s ready,

Call the agency.

Soon she’ll be debugging

Thermostats in C!


Teach your kitties Python,

Now you’re living large!

Ship them off to SpaceX

On an automated barge!


11/9 '17 7 Comments
That was fun!

My cat only knows Kibble++ and she refuses to use any kind of source control.
Chris Herdt 11/10 '17
IHNJH, IJLS "obsolete elite." :)
Thanks guys!

With this song I learned exactly why nobody listens to anything I put on SoundCloud and then link on Facebook... They make installing the app mandatory if you're on a phone.

Even YouTube links get very low levels of play on FB, probably because Facebook is arranging it that way to promote Facebook video.

I get the most views, I suspect, when I upload video directly to FB, but lately they make the sound a lot worse. Hmm.
Thomas Boutell 11/11 '17
Thank you for telling me this. I'm looking at some ways to get Jarnsaxa out to people who don't do iTunes.
Lindsay Harris-Friel 11/11 '17edited
I clicked the link above (here in OPW) and it opened right in my browser. No app download required. Hmmm.
This is true, but in the Facebook app for mobile devices it goes right to the soundcloud app install and people say uh no. Thus comments here but only one on FB from my girlfriend and she let me know it was a pain, which was good Intel. 😁
Thomas Boutell 11/12 '17edited
This is really fun. :)

In completion of my weekly creative challenge.

For Lindsay, who gave me these prompts:

Micky Dolenz, an avocado, and "you do and you'll clean it up."

You fake it till you make it
You fake it till you’re there
C                    D
It’s like an avocado
You don’t know what’s in there

You’re really really green but
You’re really really good
C                       D                     G                                  
If you can just align the coulda should with the grain of the


                  C                      D                  G
Like Micky Dolenz you persisted till you could

The lie is well intended
The lie is made of gold
The liar can lie down with the lamb I am told
It’s just a funny story
It’s just a little fib
And you’ve been telling stories since the hour you crawled out of the


D                        Am
And even at the pearly gates
     D                           G
As your performance demonstrates
      C                D              G
It’s perfectly all right to ad-lib

You break it and you bought it
You do and you’ll clean it up
And if you start the drinking game you’re draining the cup

You have a penny, leave a penny
Leave it all behind
Cast off all your possessions and embrace the intended


As you’re defying entropy
And we’re pretending not to see
The emperor’s shiny behind

I have to hand it to you
But I can’t reach that high
It was a noble effort
A remarkable try

You nearly told the truth once
You nearly sold the bridge
You had us in the desert
Hanging half off the grid

   C             D
A colony of artisans
        G                        D
Who couldn’t play the drums
          C                       D
We’re standing by the highway now
And rapidly running out of


A broken tale of lightning strikes
For what it’s worth, it struck you twice
And finally you’re stricken


11/2 '17 3 Comments
I needed that. Thank you.
"standing by the highway now and rapidly running out of thumbs"
somehow reminds me of
"exporting bass to pedestrian nations"
Brian Rapp 11/3 '17
Rabbit 11/3 '17

A tiny ditty in completion of my weekly creative challenge. It's very short and trivial in structure but I think it's a good song that would not be enhanced by further elaboration.

Written in response to prompts from my dear old friend Anne Galvin:

"Schrodinger, a cat, 'how'd that work out for ya?'"

Strictly speaking, I cheated a little on the character, but hey, representation matters.

G Dm Am7

I went to a lecture by Schroedinger’s cat
And she said
History is written by the lucky and the fat
My sisters, half my sisters, statistically anyway half, they’ll tell you
Don’t worry
This is fine

And the other half… (silent verse)

And this, yes this my kittens
(And her gaze became imploring)
Is the reason I never ask:

“How’d that work out for ya?”

10/26 '17 2 Comments
oh this is fantastic! I could listen to you sing all day. These words are so clever and sweet.
Robert Bryan 10/27 '17
Huzzah sir huzzah!

People get confused. They think the monster is the man...

In fulfillment of my creative challenge for the week. And by the bye: it's Thursday everyone. Where's your installment?

People get confused
They think the monster is the man
They think the man is a scientist
But he's really just a hobbyist

And the monster is confused
He never really thought it'd come to this
Just a scare, just a little kiss
Just a clever ruse

But they made him the mayor of this fucked up town
And the cops want to drive him around
And I hear a giant sucking sound

Oh my Frankenstein
You used to be a friend of mine
We had dinner parties all the time

Until the villagers came and took you away
And dressed you in a cape
And crowned you king

You thought it would be fun
But then you stepped on everyone
And the bastards cheered you on
It's about time someone got something done

I don't understand
This is not the second life we planned
This is not the second life we planned
This is not the second life we planned
This is not the second life... we... planned...
Oh my Frankenstein

The ideas that I put into your mind

10/19 '17 5 Comments
I heart your voice. Those words are clever, and that long-freeze at the end is absolutely top quality.
Thank you for sharing that.

As for me, I wrote and mailed these 5 paper letters:
Three Quaker Friends in retirement homes / rehab / live by themselves.
Two people I couldn’t speak to at the funeral on Monday.
It’s helped to know I have to report progress.
Robert Bryan 10/19 '17
Glad it worked for you!
Thomas Boutell 10/19 '17
Great song! I like the idea of a Frankenstein (Monster) mayor. Minneapolis has an upcoming mayoral election, I wonder if there's time to get on the ballot. Captain Jack Sparrow is an official candidate, it's not unprecedented:
Chris Herdt 10/19 '17
These lyrics-- ow ow ow ow. (And by "ow ow ow ow" I mean "Wow. They reflect the reality I do not like." The song though: STRONG WORK!)
Thanks Jill! That is where I was going for sure.
Thomas Boutell 10/22 '17

Folks to follow here on One Post Wonder:

You should check out Rebecca Metraux Canna and her delicious baking skillz. Also Anne Mollo for her storytelling. And Matt Lichtenwalner for his artwork and tales from the road. General excellent-human-ness goes without saying.

7/28 '17 2 Comments
Done! Also, *blush*.
Anne Mollo 7/28 '17
Done here too. Also? Thanks, man. That's kinda awesome. Been a while since I did any kind of 'Follow Friday'. Perhaps I should fix that.

When I built OPW, I never meant for folks to feel like every post has to be Shakespeare. But — and this is a testament to the love and care people do put into their posts — it often feels that way, even to me. I only get one per day! So it had better be awesome! So I don't post at all!

But I don't want it to be that way. So I'm going to try to be the fluff I want to see in the world. If I'm fresh out of spoons — if all I have is, let's say, half a spork — I'm just gonna keep it light.

Wait... that was insightful. Does this post still qualify as light? Am I cheating? O NOES

7/20 '17 7 Comments
Dunno, but that video was pretty adorbs.
My personal hack is to write something—anything, fluff or profundity or whatever—and then go back later and add to it/update it. So it's kind of like being able to post lots of things in a day, not just one thing.

Guess that's fair warning to anyone who reads my writing. If you read it, you might want to check back later because it could suddenly be twice as long!!
Anne Mollo 7/20 '17
Yeah. I do that too. Often I'll do the additions as comments to the original post - which probably makes things even more difficult for anyone trying to follow along. Hmm...
Maybe there is a way to receive a notification on posts you've already read that get updated? Usually you only get notifications for posts you've commented on... Probably not possible. Hmm.
Anne Mollo 7/20 '17
I don't mind the add stuff later technique, but the update notifications thing sounds too much like six posts a day. 😁
Thomas Boutell 7/21 '17
Very true. But I do sometimes wish I knew when people updated a post, even the ones I hadn't commented upon.
Anne Mollo 7/21 '17
Fluff is good.

For a while I've thought it might be a little too confusing, the way One Post Wonder separates "following" people from "giving keys" to people. But, I also suspected this was just my ego talking: surely people would use One Post Wonder more if they only understoooood it!

Also, that distinction is hugely important to many of you. The way other social networks... socially engineer... connections you don't really want is something you've asked me to avoid.

So I haven't made any changes in this area in a while.

Today, though, I got feedback from two very smart-but-busy people who had the same confusion: they didn't catch that you have to give out keys if you want your friends to actually be able to read your wonderfully private posts.

So I made what I think is the right change.

When you follow someone, you are already given a chance to give them keys. But it's worded in a very chill way... it's sorta hard to tell if you have actually selected any keys or not... and if you click "Give Keys" without actually clicking any keys, there's no warning.

Accordingly, I added that warning message. And I also went ahead and added a bold-text message explaining bluntly that this ain't Facebook.

I think this will help a lot. Although, even as I look at it, I see a problem: we're referring to those buttons as "keys," and they have lock icons.


... I'll fix that too. 😂

EDITED TO ADD: even more grease!

That should do it... I hope! 

6/21 '17 12 Comments
Ok, so......

Just for fun, I went to my list of mutual followers. When I click on an individual, it looks like they have a key to read my locked posts. I see the word "friends" with a little key next to the word. So I'm assuming that person can read my friends-locked posts. Just for grins, I clicked on "give keys" anyway, to see what happens. A big blue button appears below it, again with the key icon next to the word "friends." Well, who doesn't push a button when they see one, amiright? I clicked on the jolly candy-like button, and now there is both a key and a LOCK icon next to the word "friends."

What in the world does that mean?

I'm thinking I may have never understood this whole lock and key thing in the first place.
Anne Mollo 6/21 '17
Just clicked my way through this.

In summary:

1. You did it right the first time, everything was the way it should be.

2. There's a bug in the code for the "now you have DE-selected this" state for that particular case of editing keys. It leads to the confusing double icon you saw. I will fix it.
Thomas Boutell 6/21 '17edited
By "you did it right," I mean you had it right IN THE FIRST PLACE (yes, you gave those friends the keys they appear to have already, no, you don't want to toggle anything). Sigh, language, it is hard.
Thomas Boutell 6/21 '17
I'm happy to create a 'key icon' if that would help. What dimensions would you want it? (And I'm assuming that PNG is a good format? ;) )
Thanks Matt, we do have a key icon. We just weren't using it ideally. Thanks again for the offer!
Thomas Boutell 6/21 '17
No problemo!
By the bye, at one time PNG would have been the choice, but we are using fontawesome, a symbol font full of vector scalable goodness.
Thomas Boutell 6/22 '17
No way man! PNG 4 lyfe!

*pumps fist*
Update: I fixed the weird double icon situation that Anne saw, and I also added a new "keys given:" list to both the invite dialog box and the workspace where you edit your keys for someone. That list updates as you add and remove keys.

It should now be SUPER DUPER CLEAR AT LAST when you have given keys and when you haven't. I hope. (:
Thomas Boutell 6/21 '17
Er... welcome, friends! It turns out that I completely forgot to make copies of my keys.
Brian Rapp 6/21 '17
Brian: eek. Thanks for confirming the extent of our failure to communicate. Hoping the new setup will be ever so much better.
Thomas Boutell 6/22 '17
I am prepping to send out a blasto email to everyone who, according to a little math, probably fell victim to this. In an anonymized way. Perhaps we'll spark a little renewed interest, although I suspect we'll mostly have to wait and see how it goes with newly invited friends.
Thomas Boutell 6/23 '17

As promised, you can now leave One Post Wonder permanently without asking for my assistance.

To access it, one clicks "Me," then "Account," then scrolls down a wee bit to the bright red words "delete my account."

I hate it when "delete my account" is hidden or absent. Had anyone actually asked for it, I would certainly have added it sooner.

I also dislike when the process contains unnecessary roadblocks. So my first take on it did not have a "confirm your password" prompt.

However, when I took a good look at the result, I realized that an unintentional, cat-powered or mean-jerk-powered account deletion was a real possibility, and that people do tend to value a journal they've been posting to for years.

So at some cost in convenience, I decided the password confirmation prompt was a good idea overall.

It's most annoying, of course, if you've forgotten your password. So the "hmm, sorry, that's not right" message also includes a suggestion to try the password reset feature if you're stumped.

I think this is a good implementation of a feature I hope will be rarely needed.

My next goal is a decent export feature, something that produces static HTML pages that a user of typical technical skill can figure out a way to enjoy.

6/8 '17 5 Comments
Yay export feature! I do have to give each kid his own life story as written by his mother one day.
Seconded re: export.

Also VERY happy for Shelle's kids and their future books.
This is nifty. Nice work!
Always good to have well-lit exit signs in a dark theater.
Anne Mollo 6/9 '17
Just one more example of Tom being A Seriously Good Dude for Absolutely No Discernable Reason. :)