Homes and Neighborhoods - Part 2

In contrast, this recently built home seems to rise above its surroundings like a modern castle, complete with moat, impregnable and unapproachable. For me, there’s no connection here between home and neighborhood, no acknowledgment that the home is even part of a surrounding community.

Homes and Neighborhoods - Part 1

I’m fascinated by the way homes integrate into their surrounding neighborhoods – or don’t. For me, the low stone retaining wall, the variety of plants, the low wooden fence with generous spacing and then the front porch – all gradually receding and rising towards the house – present an inviting, approachable, natural, organic transition from public space to private. All of this gives me a feeling that the house and its occupants are happy to be part of the surrounding neighborhood.

Curving Stone Stairs

I noticed these interesting stairs today. I love the way the whole stairway curves, including the wall, steps and railing. I also love the varied colors and sizes and textures of the stones used, as well as their delicate coloring. All of it looks especially nice in the morning sun.

Walking NW of Green Lake

My Golden Retriever Hank and I take each other for a walk pretty much every day of the year. We start out from our front door, pick a direction or a destination, and then go out and back in around 30 minutes.

Given these constraints, I’ve often been struck by the seemingly infinite number of interesting details there are to be observed along our walks. Every house is different, and depending on the season and time of day and the weather, the same house may look entirely different from one walk to another.

These walks and these observations are a sort of meditation for me. (Hank has somewhat different interests.) I don’t stick listening devices in my ears during these outings: it’s more than enough for me to walk, to keep an eye on Hank, to say hi to an occasional neighbor, and to take note of my surroundings.

I’ve wondered for a while if it might be fun, for myself and perhaps for others, to keep a sort of log of our walks and my observations, posting a picture with comments every day or so. And so, after much procrastination, I’ve decided this might be a fun thing to do with my

And so it begins.

Just reactivated my account at, and set up cross-posting to Twitter (@herbbowie) and my Facebook Practopians page. Happy to be part of the community and to join those supporting the open web!

Just had a Professor connect with me via LinkedIn with the message “Your review of the Jefferson Airplane’s We Should Be Together is some of the finest writing about rock music that I’ve ever encountered.” Nice!

Also just released version 4.12 of Notenik, my free, open-source note-taking app. Fixed a few bugs with the latest release. Available as a signed Mac application bundled into a disk image. More info at

iTunes on the Mac can't actually play a song any longer?

Ever since the beginning of the Mac, the graphical user interface has worked in the following way: select something you want to act upon, and then use a UI control to indicate what action you want to take. Yet Apple seems to have managed to break iTunes so badly that it no longer complies with this universal contract with the user for the most basic function of playing a song. If I now select a song in iTunes, and then hit the Play button, or select Play from the Control menu, then iTunes does not play what I have selected, but instead resumes playing whatever song it had last been playing. It turns out that the only way to actually play a new song is to double-click on it – even though everywhere else in the Apple universe double-clicking is just a short-hand for something I can accomplish some other way.

I just got off the phone with Apple support and the very helpful guy on the phone actually said “Think of the Play button as if it were a Resume button.” “OK, I said. That’s stupid, but I can do it. But then show me where the actual Play button is.” But there is none. If you want iTunes to play the song you’ve selected, the only way to do that is to double-click it.