Friday, July 26, 2002

Water, Water, Everywhere
When you drive a motorcycle, you run the risk of getting wet. Granted, this summer has been one of unbelievable dryness, even for Virginia...but this morning, right as I started to start my Enfield, the rain began coming down. Thank goodness I'd bought a rain suit last week. But in the haste to get ready, I flung my backpack behind me...and my mobile phone fell out. Sheesh...

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Irritations Part 1
OK, so many blogs are compendia of curmudgeonly crap...I guess I could either avoid the fray or jump right in.
Here goes.
I was listening to a voicemail today. The person who called is leaving me a friendly, chatty message. . . and she's eating something! How do I know? No, it's not the crunchCrunchCRUNCH of chips or chicken. Instead, it's the rounding of her vowels abnormally. Her os are more, well, o-ey. Her as are softer, not as plosive as normal.

Why does this bother me? I dunno. . . I think it's something to do with my family's obsession with people eating with their mouths open—something that drives us crazy.

Please. . . Don't chew with your mouth open, and don't eat while you're talking on the phone.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

New Digs
My folks moved into a new apartment last week. Last night was the first time I'd seen it. After 29 years in the same apartment, they now have light and space, despite the fact that their new place contains significantly less square footage (or meterage). However, their new place has much more efficient use of space.

Monday, July 15, 2002

Under the sea...
This weekend, we went to the National Aquarium. Extremely interesting and well-done aquarium. Rather than simply presenting a bunch of fish in tanks, the exhibit leads you through several different ecologies...but you get to see cool fish, too.
The shark exhibit was neat in that there were about 10 diferent sharks swimming in a pool that ran around the perimeter of the viewing area. The down side is that the lighting is so dim, you can hardly see the monsters well. I guess it's a trade-off--their habitat should be dark, and we want to be able to see 'em (and photograph 'em, too, I suppose). Still, well worth the $17.50 admission...go see it!

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

I Can't Stand the Way He Talks
Just finished reading This Wheel's On Fire, the Levon Helm autobio...and Band bio. What a sad story--despite great, great talent, the Band ended up becoming addicted to heroin, big business, accountants, and the headiness of the rock-star life of the late '60s/early '70s.
So sad. With acrimony between Helm and guitarist Robbie Robertson, with Richard Manuel's suicide and Rick Danko's death from heart attack, the story just bears down on you. When people have that talent, and then they squander it, it's just so sad.

Monday, July 08, 2002

The Anthem as Hymn
Well, yesterday afternoon we went by the park at Meadow and Park (called Meadow Park), to hear Page and Reckless Abandon play a free concert. It was a nice afternoon, with humidity levels decreasing (Gott sei dank). We rode bikes. About sixty people were there, mostly from the surrounding, renovated, multihundred-thousand-dollar homes. It's a nice city neighborhood. You can tell it's nice because the people were drinking surreptitiously...but instead of beer in their coolers, they chilled pinot grigio and bordeaux and corbiéres...and not Boone's Farm, either (the drink of the people in another nearby park).
Page sounded very good, running through his standard set..."Skin Quarter," "I Know You Rider," "Nightrider's Lament," "Swim Nekkid," and so on. Of course, his between-song patter hasn't really changed much (word for word) since 1979. Still, good players with him and, let's face it, the price was right.
Then he began his rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." It's great, really...a bit plaintive, a slower tempo than marching bands play it, and also haunting and evocative. I've always enjoyed it when he plays it at The Diamond. A true highlight of the Richmond baseball season. So when he began, I stopped my conversation with Ellie and Nathanial and Karen and Duffy and Shell to listen. After about eight bars, people started standing up...a few at first, then more and more. You could see it in their eyes: Do I stand or do I sit? What's the protocol?'s not a baseball game, it's not an "official function," but it is the song of the country...I remained sitting...along with (some of) my friends. I could see and also feel eyes directed on us, as if to say, "Who are these hippies? Communists? Taliban? Whut the hell's wrong with them?"
So post-September 11, the freedom not to stand when the SSB is played is in danger. Hey, folks, it's just a song. Context gives it meaning and importance...but it's really

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Times Are Not What They Used To Be
I've been participating in a really good discussion on Christina's site. She brought up the very salient : " Hasn't the web been around long enough that huge million dollar organizations should have no excuse for bad websites?" To me, there's been a retreat from focus on users. Specifically, the effect that HCI (and related disciplines) have had in the past six years seems to be waning post-dot-com-crash.
So I am a technical fact, the only technical writer here. And editor. And visual designer (diagrams, page layout, illustration). And usability expert. Yes, yes, I know, there should be at least one member of each of these competencies. And yes, I might be doing more harm than good...but that's for another discussion. Right now, I'm just interested in the fact that, although I'm supposed to be the authority on writing above all other duties, I'm having to do concensus work. Instead of "Write it this way," I'm having to say, "I think writing it this way would be better, probably, at least in my opinion." Grrr...