in transit FEBRUARY 2004
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> Journal

I need a vacation.

~ ~ ~

"So, you watching the Oscars tonight?"

"No, you?"

"No. I've seen about five movies in the past year, so there's no real point in me watching."

"You've seen more than that."

"Not really."

"But we saw 'The Quiet American.'"

"That was a 2002 film."

"...And 'Gangs Of New York.'"

"That was 2002 as well."

"We saw both Matrix films."

"Wasn't one of those... Oh, you're right. Also, I saw 'A Simple Wind' twice, so I'm only counting that as one."

"You mean 'A Mighty Wind.'"


~ ~ ~

Maybe I should start scheduling my movie viewings just like I do everything else.

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> Journal

"So, since I'm not religious, does that mean I should be putting a target on my head today?"

"You're going to Hell."

~ ~ ~

"So, you going to see 'The Passion?'"

"I'm thinking I'll wait for it to come out on video. You know, let the blood flow out of my VCR."

"Not too religious, are you?"

"Not really. I mean, Monica Bellucci's in it, but I doubt she'll be too hot in this one."

"Probably not."

"Some interesting news from Chicago today, though. A bunch of religious leaders saw the movie—so two priests and a rabbi walk into a theatre—and they said they were deeply disturbed by the film."


"Meanwhile, Ebert gave it four stars and called it the most violent movie he's ever seen."

"Did you hear what Andy Rooney said?"


"Well, he talked about how Pat Robertson says God speaks to him... You remember when Robertson said God told him George Bush was going to win the election..."


"Well, Rooney said he got a call from God, too, and that God told him that Robertson and Gibson are a bunch of wackos."

"That's funny."

"He also said God always calls him 'Andrew', and that he likes that."

"I like Andy Rooney."

"Me too. He's getting kind of old, though."

"Everyone on 60 Minutes is getting old."

"Why do you think they have the stop watch at the start? Tick tick tick tick tick tick..."

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> Journal

"So, at what point do you become desperate about the car situation?"

"What do you mean, 'become?'"

"Still no buyers yet?"

"No. I have to renew the tabs on the new one next month, and the insurance renews on both of them the beginning of April."

"Have you thought about donating it?"



"The couple of places I've called have told me it's too old."

"You are going to get a new car, though."

"Oh, yes."

> Link-O-Matic 3000

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> Journal

What a fucking day this was.

If anyone needs an experienced and highly-skilled new-media production manager, or a web developer specializing in usability and accessible design, please let me know.

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> Journal

I got an interesting voicemail from Sarah today. Apparently a photo I took in April of 2003 showed up on a Photoshop thread this morning. (Scroll about two-thirds of the way down the page to see the photo.) Also, it turns out the photo is the #7 result on Google Image Search for the word "tollbooth." Strangely enough, that copy isn't hosted on my site, but on some site I've never heard of.

I meant to call Sarah back about this, but my phone shorted out while doing so. This may be a good opportunity for me to make that switch to Verizon I've been talking about.

~ ~ ~

Early results suggest Howard Dean got about 21% of the vote in Wisconsin today. That's a lot better than many of us expected, but it's still probably time for him to drop out and wait for 2008. Any remaining support for him runs the risk of falling into the "protest" category, and we all know where that leads.

That said, I'm getting tired of all the pundits on TV saying Dean's dismal showing is proof online campaigning doesn't work. When you consider the long and completely disproportionate history of attacks leveled against him by Republicans, Democrats and a wide cross-section of the media, his performance in this race has been nothing short of spectacular.

~ ~ ~

10:20 p.m. Ok, make that only 16% of the vote. Dammit.

> Link-O-Matic 3000, Wisconsin Primary Edition

# # #

> Journal

Well, it sounds like time's up for Dean. I'd been hoping for at least a respectable showing from him in Wisconsin, but some polls are putting him as much as 40% behind Kerry, so that's probably not going to happen.

Maybe next time.

# # #

> Journal

It's been a busy weekend. I pretty much shut myself off from the world for 48 hours, ignoring my phone and email for most of Sunday and all of Saturday. I caught up on sleep, did battle with the piles of disorder in the closet, showed the car to a prospective buyer (still no sale, unfortunately), took care of a lot of overdue shopping, and finished a fairly robust backup system for my computer. I also read the Sunday paper, listened to NPR, made a legitimate breakfast and spent a fair amount of time tormenting the cat. None of that is really all that special, of course, but considering how little time I've had to do regular things lately I found most of it quite enjoyable.

As mentioned yesterday, I'm back to my regular schedule this week. I'm going to make an effort to take off a half hour for lunch each day so I can start reading the paper again. I'm becoming increasingly convinced little compromises like eating lunch at one's desk can be the first steps towards a job completely taking over one's life.

It's time for me to reset things.

~ ~ ~

"So, you ready for South By Southwest again this year?"

"Not really. I'm not going."

"You're not?"

"Nah. Last year I decided I wouldn't go if I didn't have anything worthwhile to take there."

"What about your site?"

"What site? I haven't even started it yet."

"I mean your blog. South By Southwest is big for bloggers."

"I'm not a 'blogger.'"


> Link-O-Matic 3000

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> Journal

Adjectives applicable to the preceding week: Long, annoying, depressing, congested, and regrettable.

It's amazing what a 30-minute change to one's schedule can do.

I'll be back on the 9:30 start Monday.

> Link-O-Matic 3000

# # #

> Journal

"Sonic... Hey, didn't you drive to Iowa to eat at Sonic once?"

"Yeah. I won't do that again."

~ ~ ~

Plans are slowly shaping up for Stadium Tour 2004. Everything is still very tentative, of course, but right now it looks we'll start in Baltimore on July 7th, followed by Philadelphia on the 8th, Yankee Stadium on the 9th and Boston on the 10th. (Incidentally, all four games are night games.) Potential complicating factors include the middle of July being a somewhat expensive time to travel, as well as the possibility I may be moving that month. Regardless, it would be a wonderful little set of games (despite having to watch the Devil Rays in both Baltimore and New York), and so would be very difficult to pass up.

> Link-O-Matic 3000

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> Journal

There was hope for a partial resolution to the car situation this weekend, but, alas, it was not to be. One person looked at the car but wasn't interested—there was the pesky little detail of a manual transmission—and another who'd been scheduled for a daylight viewing of the car called to say he'd have to take a look at it some other day.

I know I should be patient about this, but I'm really getting tired of all the problems and expenses associated with owning two cars. My auto insurance renews in early March, and I'd rather not have to put myself down for two vehicles again. That, and I'm getting sick of managing the on-street parking situation: I live in a pretty good neighborhood, but it is somewhat crowded as far as parking goes, and cars sitting in the same place for more than a few days have a tendency to become targets. Over the past few years I've seen a number of vehicles vandalized, with the damage ranging from missing tires to graffiti to smashed windows. After all I've been through with the new 9000, the last thing I need is to walk out one morning and find broken glass and a cinder block lying in the Saab's front seat. Hence, a twice-a-week car relocation has become part of my regular schedule, and will remain that way until I'm down to one car again.

There's a fine line between feeling stupid about something and being stupid about something. I don't know if I've crossed it yet.

~ ~ ~

Aside from the non-story that's the car situation, there's not much to report from last week. I met Jason for an enjoyable dinner at Cafe Latte in St. Paul Thursday, but beyond that it was more of the same: Work, work, and, of course, more work.

Maybe this week will be better. Maybe not.

> Link-O-Matic 3000

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> Journal

In retrospect, the $27 I saved by contesting a license tab ticket this afternoon was not worth the three hours I had to take off of work to do so.

~ ~ ~

Design revisions continue. The line to the left should've been an easy addition, but a bug in IE (each entry shifted one pixel to the left of the entry above it) turned it into an annoying and lengthy process. That said, I think the design is beginning to fall a little closer to what I was aiming for.

Comments are still welcome, of course.

# # #

> Journal

As with most things I get involved in, this design took a little longer to implement than expected.


# # #

> Journal

"Quite a drive in this morning."

"Yup. Plenty of time to philosophize while sitting in traffic."

"Such as?"

"You know, if I just turned this wheel a tiny bit to the right and joined those people in that ditch, I wouldn't have to attend any of the meetings this morning."

"I'm not sure how that applies to philosophy."

"Well, it definitely speaks to the futility of man."

~ ~ ~

In other winter driving news, I definitely need to work on my manual-transmission parallel-parking skills.

# # #

> Journal

Well, it's later in the evening now, and I'm stuck at home working while the Super Bowl plays in the background, but I still have to say it was a good weekend. Yesterday evening was spent in Central Wisconsin at Robin and Andy's open house. It was a cool little gathering, a fairly low-key affair with a good group of people and plenty of interesting conversation. Well, it wasn't entirely low-key: Highlights of a brief trip to a local Marshfield bar called Elixir included a shot girl who thought nothing of pulling down her top or pants for a $10 tip, a number of examples of bad Central-Wisconsin farmer behavior (and hair), and an unexpected five-minute set of dancing from Andy that drew the rapt attention of almost everyone within 20 feet of the dance floor.

But there's not much else to say about that.

Aside from anything that happened at the party, I have to comment that Robin and Andy have a very comfortable apartment. (Incidentally, this is the same apartment I reportedly referred to as "suburban" when I visited Marshfield last April.) I'm not sure what Andy's level of involvement was, but I know Robin has a pretty good design sense, and it definitely showed.

~ ~ ~

You know, I think I just saw Janet Jackson's right boobie on national television.

> Design Notes

Well, I figured it was time for a new design. The old blue was still OK, but it was pushing two years in age and I was beginning to feel constrained by it.

Besides, color is overrated anyway.

I'm still working on some design issues—most aesthetic rather than technical—so you may see changes as the month progresses. Also, internal pages will remain the same while I hash out the look and feel up front. Regardless, comments and suggestions are both welcome and appreciated. Please email them to me at mark (at) nonlocality (dot) com.

~ ~ ~

I had a few core goals for the new design:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Reduce the width of the primary text area for better readability.
  3. Allow segmentation of content (daily sections for links, movie reviews, etc.).
  4. Increase design flexibility for special entries and sections.

So far the results are somewhat mixed. Everything turned out much more complicated than expected, and I think the end result is way too cluttered. The text is more readable, but in retrospect black-on-white works better in print than on a computer screen. On the bright side, the design is more flexible, but a negative side-effect of that is regular updates will take more work than they used to. (No, I haven't automated with Movable Type or anything of the sort yet, and I don't plan to.) The content segmentation shouldn't be that difficult, but it'll be interesting to see how often I use that flexibility.

Finally, a couple of compatibility notes: Parts of the design may not display properly in Safari on the Mac and Konqueror on Linux. While my browser-compatibility knowledge is somewhat rusty, it's my understanding that the similar problems between those two browsers stems from a positioning bug in their shared codebase. Apple seems to be aware of the issue, and I'm not expecting many visitors using Konqueror, so for now I'm not going to try to find a workaround.

~ ~ ~

There may be a longer entry about the design at some point. I've put a lot of thought into this layout, although I'm not sure I'm getting a full return on the investment.

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