Thursday, December 30, 2004

A China Mieville Christmas Story.
On Tuesday, we walked the shore of Lake Pontchartrain at Fountainebleu State Park, just north of New Orleans. We were just a family out enjoying a beautiful day and a few moments of one another's company before enduring the traffic nightmare that is a rush hour trip to the New Orleans airport, but I was keenly aware that doing that very same thing on the other side of the world a few days earlier could have gotten us killed.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I tried to take her home for Christmas,
but Jack Frost got trashed on Bourbon Street,
and passed out on the runways.
Once again, we find ourselves stranded,
roadsore and ready for home, but warm
from who we are when we're together,
neither here nor there.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The gifts are bought and wrapped, the laundry is done, cookies distributed, and one or two presents opened just, well, just because. Without going into details, I think it's safe to say that Christie earned her stripes as Best Wife Ever. Okay, I'll go into details. She got me this.

On the work front, the templates are done, the project's handed off, and I've got nothing to do until the New Year except write a little documentation and do run some routine queries. No more laying awake at night wondering if the header tabs should be in canary yellow and hot pink, and whether putting all the links in blink tags was a good idea. Life, as they say, is good. But the boss loves short deadlines, and the thread holding up the other sword is getting thinner by the day. So I'm not going to be eating bonbons with my feet up for too long.

Not much to say, really. I'm off to Kansas City to commune with family, give and receive gifts, and attend church (if I don't go once a year, I feel all icky; same thing if I go much more). If you can't be with your loved ones this season, love the ones you're with. But hopefully you'll be surrounded with family and friends, someplace you can kick back with some spiced cider, a new pair of slippers, and a big stack of owner's manuals and assembly instructions to read in front of a roaring gas log fireplace.

Be safe, be kind, and be happy.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Bad UI experience of the day:
As an interface designer, I find myself getting seriously pissy when confronted with stupid interface decisions, whether online or in the real world. Christmas shopping online has certainly presented me with plenty of examples. For example, what is the point of having wishlists if your friends and family can't view them? And don't get me started on wedding registries. Amazon and Target both, for example, tie a wedding wish list to one account and one account only, so that whoever sets it up is the only one who can maintain it. And then there's the ATM at my bank, which waits until you've entered your desired withdrawal to tell you that you can only pull money out today in multiples of $20. Or $50. It changes, you know. Not too bad, except that the "accept" and "cancel" button labels disappear on the second input screen, and if you want to actually make a withdrawal, you have to remember where they were.

But today's annoyance is more prosaic: The gas station down the road. I pick my pump, and, as usual, choose to pay at the pump. There's a red paper sign taped to the pump, saying "No reciepts available at this pump!", handprinted (which explains the misspelling) and cut into a festive starburst shape, as though this were an exciting new feature of this particular pump. Fine. I just end up wadding them up and throwing them away anyway.

So I fill my car and press the buttons to finish the transactions. As it is currently 11 degrees and windy, I decide to skip the carwash. Instead of a "transaction completed", though, I get "please see attendant". I am, at this point, about 90% sure that this is a standard error message, that the clerk is going to tell me everything's fine, ask if I need a receipt. But that 10% could bring a visit from the sheriff or a suspended license if I pull a gas and go, so I trudge into the store, and I wait in line, and, of course, I'm right. And the look on the clerk's face tells me that she's about as happy about it as I am, so there's not even the satisfaction of bitching.

And that's why you get to read about it, you lucky bastards.

Friday, December 17, 2004

For Jeffrey, mostly: Place The State - You start with a blank US map, and have to drop the states in place, one at a time.
What a difference a year makes
This time last year, I was fighting my own mind and considering the possibility of starting to think about maybe making some plans.

This year, I'm putting lights on the tree, whistling Christmas carols, and just generally feeling merry. This year, I'm fighting busyness and procrastination, not scrooginess and exasperation.

On the other hand, Christie's enthusiasm for Christmas seems to be more or less bottomless, so it's probably in my best interest to feign a certain amount of scrooginess, or else I'm liable to find myself spending the better part of December wreathing our 100-year oak in lights, and paying a very large electric bill come January.
Phrase of the day, from William Gibson: "And then there are those episodes of history that unravel with the breathtaking and utterly unexpected abruptness of a cashmere miniskirt catching on a chainlink fence..."

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Just to keep you filled in, today was the third review meeting on a new project at work, leading to the third redefinition of the project, meaning a whole new set of templates. Three sets, actually. But we've got a window of staff availability we're trying to hit, so the deadline hasn't changed. Also Christie's got a cold, and apparently there's this Christmas thing coming up as well.

But don't be feeling too sorry for me. Last weekend Christie and I went to Chicago with my family for a little R&R. No good stories, really, but it was a good time.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Monday, December 06, 2004