Ready for (a, the) weekend.

Friday, April 25th, 1997

Hi, it’s less dark than usual here in the room where it all gets done, the room that consumes more electricity than anywhere else in the house, the room that is the fount of my creativity, such as it is. I’ve got the blinds up, and yes, there is the back yard, not too overgrown and unruly. There is the neighbor’s cat, who prefers our yard to theirs for her daytime hunting activities. There is the sun. Maybe I should go out there.

(Long pause as I look blankly at the screen.)

Well, actually I’m writing this when I should finish cleaning the house. The downstairs bathroom, for example.

(Another pause as I go do that.)

Boy, is this disjointed! That’s just what kind of day it is. A few minutes of this, a moment of that. Here are the tidbits that are racing through my head, in search of coherence:

Sammy’s meanwhile making about 387 types of bean dip for our friends coming for the weekend. She believes in being thorough, indeed.

Most of the comments I’ve received from youall about the changes on these pages have been positive. Maybe the simple, cleaner look was indeed a good idea. Don’t get me wrong: there are some sites that take every inch of the needed bandwidth (and then some) and uses it well. I’m just not sure anything I have to say is worth that much of the web’s valuable pipespace. It is rather self-indulgent, after all, to have a place where one’s random thoughts can be easily scanned by others. On the other hand, maybe I deserve a dollop of self-indulgence every now and again.

One thing I’d like to work on is a bit of information about my family, all of whom I’ve very proud of. Somehow, now, I find my self more cautious in these efforts. I’ve been advised to be forthcoming in a circumspect manner on the web. "You never know who might read your page," they say. Well, yes, in principal part that is the idea. I’ve gone as far as getting some pictures together.

I’ve been doing some experiments with the DV, DVCPro, and DVCam formats recently. Last night I took our small DV camera on a tripod out at 10:45 last night to shoot some frames in and around our neighborhood. With the AGC turned off, it’s remarkably clean, with noise-free blacks and rich, saturated colors. I’ll upload an image or two from this on Monday.

See what I mean? Chunks of words in search of a common thread. Ah, well, I put them out there for you as an act of clearing off my desk, ready for the weekend. I’ve cleaned up files and folders in my machine, backed up both Sam’s and mine to Exabyte, charged the video batteries, and, oh yeah, the downstairs bathroom is pretty clean.

Enjoy your weekend.

Spell (and reality) check.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 1997

Well, actually I consider myself a good speller, but I’m not always sitting in the correct posture with the correct attention to detail when I’m typing–hence the occasional ‘teh’ or ‘afetr’ that sneak in to my otherwise perfectly rendered words. (As comfortable as it is, sitting with one’s feet propped up on the desk, keyboard on the lap–that’s not necessarily the best way to actually get down and get busy. Sometimes it’s just…comfortable.) I see errors quite easily and from a distance (just ask people whose typos I catch at television stations), but I have to be, you know, really looking for that little trick to work.

Usually, someone will email me (I just typed that ’emil’) and point out the error; often, helpfully, they’ll say ‘don’t you have spell check?’ Well, yes, I have spell check all over the damn place, but that doesn’t mean I always like to take advantage of the raw unbridled power of this computer.

Part of the reason why: I hate to go back, double-check, and clean up after the machine, which often is what you have to do, because inevitably the computer hasn’t lived quite the life you have, and therefore hasn’t collected the precise subset of proper nouns and place names that you hold dear.

And of course, if you type a legitimate english word as the typo (‘ho’ for ‘who’, or the wrong too/two), the darn thing won’t catch it anyway.

Add to that the myriad acronyms and equipment names and techno-gobbledygook that folks in my line of work love to use, and, well, there you are.

There’s something to be said for going back through your work at least once, just to make sure you haven’t said something really, really stupid–especially when one can just flow this stuff in, and, with a touch of the button blast it out there for everyone (even you) to read. Write, then revise. Think, then write.

It’s a rainy or post-rainy Tuesday, and I’m doing what seems to have become my classic morning ritual: checking the email and the web, hitting the dozen or so sites that might have software upgrades for the applications or parts of the system software that might be misbehaving. There are those software folks who update their software actively, getting a new release out there on the net moments after hearing about and fixing a problem. Their stuff sits on my Mac with versions like ‘2.45b7’. Others seem loath to make any small changes until they can make big changes, and we’re lucky if they favor us with one new release a year.

Keeping up with versions is not only my little compulsion, it’s damn near essential when you’ve got a machine loaded up with beta versions of software, odd system extensions, and work that needs to be done.

So it’s my morning surf, done a bit foggily, my head pulsing a bit, fighting off the humidity from last night’s rain.

It’s in this context (if I’ve provided a context) that I realized how little I have actually been listening to NPR these mornings. It’s on, but as a background to me reading the news (off the web) at The New York Times, catching the latest Suck or Salon (heck, maybe even Slate), or making sure I’ve carefully and thoroughly tracked through the latest MacInTouch. It really has to be a compelling feature for me to turn my attention radioward. Of course, sometimes, it’s just a phrase that grabs my attention: the reporter says “a small town just off I-70” and I pick up on a story about Muskingum College, near my old stomping grounds. Or I hear vivid descriptions of the birth process and, somewhat queasily, I turn the volume up. My interest shifts, I begin to type gobbledygook–sometimes characters from the words I’m hearing show up in the words I’m typing. Uh-oh.

Maybe it’s just selective (nicely filtered) memory, but I think I used to be better at multitasking than I am now. Maybe it’s not even a multitasking issue, but one of general focus and concentration. All I know is that while were in Mexico, NPR is the form of mass communication I missed the most. So why aren’t I paying attention?

Maybe I just need to go get some coffee.

Afternoon update: I’ve finally put some actual images on the blatantly self-promotional My so-called work. I’d appreciate your comments, suggestions.

This is Diversity Awareness Day at The Citadel, Morning Edition tells me. It’s Earth Day. It’s also the day after Tom Burton’s birthday. And a happy Tuesday to you, too.

Just what day is it, exactly?

Saturday, April 19th, 1997

Hello on a Saturday where the warmth has finally returned to our little corner of the world, after a week of temperatures that, I’ll admit, would seem tropical to the people of Fargo, but for Atlanta, it was just a bit nippy. But forget that now, it’s warm, sunny, everything anyone would want for a Freaknik weekend.

You may have heard about this on the news. Somehow, Atlanta became the hip place to party for Spring breaking students from ‘traditionally’ Black colleges. Somehow this terrifies some of our fair citizens. Kinda seems silly and overblown to me all the way around.

I just hope everybody enjoys the weekend and approaches the next week with maybe 10% less stress than the week before. (Oh yeah, I’d also like a small order of world peace with that, as well.)

I updated this page because there are now pictures for you to look at, a slice of Real life. It’s kind of an experiment: I think they’d be of little interest unless you were actually in the picture. (They’re tiny, for one thing.) And there’s another page full of photos here called Veto Las Vegas, which probably make even less sense.

I also updated it because the date was wrong on the page–in fact, on all the pages. Somehow (power surge? cosmic rays? Daylight savings time?) the clock on my computer was set 24 hours ahead, an advantage as far as showing up for appointments was concerned, but otherwise, a hindrance. I’m amazed it took as long as it did for me to notice.

The framework of this site continues to evolve. The usefulness of this site…well, I leave that determination up to you. I have this strange sense of becoming less interesting and having less to offer as time goes on. Might just be an illustion of perspective, like the very convincing mirages we saw driving through Death Valley.

A new paradigm sweeps clean.

Thursday, April 17th, 1997

In a town where the arrival of spring often means the descent of all manner of pollen and other organic residue, spread over cars, houses, and passers-by like some protective coating of discarded fairy dust, the idea of spring cleaning carries powerful psychological weight.

Clear it out. Wash it off. Put a fresh coat of paint on it. Pressure-wash that mildew away. And start over again.

And it’s with that impetus at back of mind that I backed up the contents of the old Positively Atlanta Georgia site and did exactly that. Whammo! It’s gone! I remember one station promotion director I worked with had trouble with that concept. He had accumulated so much junk in their stillstore that there literally was no room for the new graphics; further, he would writhe in actual pain at the prospect of deleting anything–so I grabbed the key to the stillstore control panel, and before his horrified eyes, blew about 95% of it away.

“Feel better?” I asked.

I don’t think he did.

But I do. And for me, the problem was way beyond simply ‘updating your damn web page,’ the bane of my existence since I first stuck my toe into these digital waters. Yeah, sure, I could quickly replace the page about us in Cholula–which you’ve seen now for about 2 months–with something new, but the problem of old pages and images, cluttered, poorly-organized, hard to keep track of–would remain.

I read a lot on the web about ‘site management tools’ like WebObjects Fusion, but decided to implement a system based on BBEdit & Frontier, because, after all, I used BBEdit for most of my text editing and HTML creation already, and because I’ve been a fan of Dave Winer‘s–even when I don’t agree with him, which is fairly often.

So I plunged in, and this site is the result. It’s in many ways like the one you’re familiar with. And yet, flying in the face of graphics-clogged, java rich sites all around me, this one is actually a much simpler, low-bandwidth design. I’m not even using frames! The header graphic is smaller!

But on the other hand, there’s a convenient index of subjects down the left side, a Media Rare that gives you the big picture, a renovated look at my work, and just generally a better sense of organization. I hope.

And all this revision happens just in time, too, because there’s lots new to pile on here. Please check out the words and images from our recent trips to Mexico (for archaeology) and Las Vegas (for television) by jumping to the Travels page. And for reasons I’m still not clear on, I’ve decided to include a Frequently Asked Questions page as well.