Archive for ‘life’ category

Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog

I’ve been working with colleague and Slidell, Louisiana resident, Brian Oberkirch over the past few weeks on several web-related projects. To help gather information on what’s happening in his town, he’s set up a weblog to help people post and query on what’s happening in an area that’s been hit hard by Katrina. Brian’s proven that a weblog can be a helpful tool, and is looking for help regarding ideas to make it even more useful. Have an idea? Lend a hand if you can.

Why I Didn’t Leave the House Today

Although it is a Sunday, I’m reminded of a major downside to having a home office: no snow days. Figure 1, seen below, illustrates the reason I didn’t leave the house today. The photo is a bit deceiving, as some of the height is caused by the winds whipping the snow into drifts. But needless to say, a heck of a lot of snow was dropped on this part of the world last night and today.
snow
So, no snow days. Work is still here — still accessible. Only when the power goes out, do we truly unplug from everything without a choice. This is both good and bad. Although the weather is annoying, it can give you a chance to just say, “ah, well.”, and just come to terms with staying indoors.

Down With Laces

I’m slowly, yet methodically, ridding myself of shoe laces. With each new footwear purchase, I am opting for models that simply “slip on”, rather than those that require lacing up. I’m also aware that my gradual switch only accelerates the fact that I am no longer “cool”. That aside, let’s take a look at the ways in which non-laced footwear is superior:

  • You don’t have to bend over.
  • Does not require the use of hands.
  • Faster.
  • Pants don’t get caught in lace bow.
  • And other reasons not listed here.

What’s fascinating to me is that it’s taken so long for slip-on shoes of all styles to catch on. I realize (intelligent) people have been wearing laceless shoes for perhaps centuries, but it seems that in recent years, the variety has increased, and shoes of all types now come without laces. They’re everywhere now, or at least I’ve just started noticing.

Couple this recent popularity with the fact that I never really properly learned how to tie my own shoes, and you have the recipe for a global wardrobe “about face”.

Now, the more important question to ask, is why (on a web site historically known for web design-ish topics) all the posts on slippers, shoes and breast pockets? Well, I’m told that variety is the spice of life. And if that means meaningless rants on uncool fashion trends, sprinkled in with actual engaging topics — then so be it.

Realities of Self-Employment: Part 1

I have emerged from a temperature of 102° with a certain realization. When you get sick the world doesn’t stop. Email doesn’t get put on hold. Deadlines don’t get sick. Granted, I was only down and out for maybe 48 hours — but it’s enough to throw a wrench in the works.
thermometerIt goes without saying that it sucks to get sick. It happens. This is magnified significantly when you work for yourself, and your company is comprised of one employee. Those that work for businesses that have greater than one employee have the benefit of the company not completely shutting down should they call in sick.
Simply an observation, as well as another learning experience.

Cycling: The First 100 Miles

I’ve ridden 100 miles (approximately) on a road bike. You may remember my proclamation of a few weeks back, inspired by Lance Armstrong’s historic sixth straight win over Le Tour de France, I had decided I needed a road bike.
A bike was then purchased, and as corny as it sounds, on the very afternoon of Lance’s familiar pose in front of the Arc de Triomphe.
So far, I’ve fallen twice. Hard. On account of the clipless pedals which lock your special shoes into the the cranks of the bike, requiring a delicate, almost graceful “twitch” of the heel in order to free them again. My problem: unlock right foot (so that I may touch the curb), but lean left — thereby tipping ever-so-slowly into the pavement. It’s the sort of fall that happens literally in slow motion. You know you’re going to hit the ground, yet you can (or choose to) do nothing about it.
Aside from the falls, I’m loving it. Hills are getting slightly easier, and thanks to my wife I’m going on some nice routes around the North Shore of Boston.
FigureThere is one scenario that’s maddening though. Consider the figure on the right. I’m riding along, and a huge SUV sits parked on my right. Just to the left of the SUV is a giant pothole. I have three choices here: Run into the back of the SUV, take my chances with the pothole or swerve out into the lane around both. Don’t worry, I’m extremely cautious when riding. But I’m presented with this situation constantly.
And that brings me to another topic: why is cycling more popular outside the United States? I’ll take a few guesses. I can’t speak for all of Europe, but when we visited Sweden recently, there were few or no SUVs in sight. Gas was roughly 3 times what it is here, making it more expensive to get out on the road. Less cars, smaller cars = more room on the road.
In New England–or in any location that has harsh, snowy winters–roads are horrible. Potholes are everywhere. Salt, gravel and snowplows make for bad riding during the other seasons. Road work is constantly being done. Certainly that has to affect cycling popularity in some fashion.
Regardless, it’s fun and it gets me exercising–which these days is a victory. Expect additional reports as the miles increase.

The Obligatory I’m Busy Post

Sunset
The view out the front door of my house was particularly nice this evening, so I thought I’d snap a photo of it. I’m told Venus and the Moon were closer to each other than normal tonight. And I’d guess this is a good thing. My wife dragged her telescope outside and I must say the moon is pretty amazing when magnified. It tends to put things back in to perspective.
I suppose I’ve been busy with the usual lately and haven’t found the time to post here. Lots of things happening behind the scenes that will surface later on. All good things — including more priming and painting and caulking. It will never end.
But soon the leaves will appear again on the trees, baseball will return to Fenway Park and all will be right with the world.

The Search

So I’ve been looking for a new job — and so far it hasn’t been going well. It’d be silly for me not to announce something here, in the event that the esteemed readers of SimpleBits might be of some assistance. While my brief unemployment has allowed me to get some great things done, I don’t intend to stay that way.
I’m looking for a full-time web design/development/UI/webmaster type role at a cool company in the Boston/Eastern Massachusetts area (I just moved, so relocation is out for now). There are so many directions to head within these categories, so for the right company, I’m certainly willing to mold. Most of what I’m seeing out there so far is either contract work (which I’ve decided against for now), entry-level or crap.
So feel free to contact me if you know of anything, hear about a cool company that might be in need, if you work somewhere already that is looking to hire, or if you just want to chat about American Idol. I would be forever grateful.

Escaping the Cold Snap

We’re packing up and heading out for about a week. Tommorrow we head to sunny Florida to visit family. Just in time too, as it’s down to about 20(F) degrees here (during the day).
Elvis
While I’m away, we can all root for the Patriots* as they try to further distance us from the terrible Game 7 of the American League Championship of last October. The Pats’ 14-2 record has almost made me forget.
*Unless of course you are a Tennessee Titans fan.
I’ll be unplugging for most of the week, so until then…

What I’ve Done on My Holiday Vacation

  • Sanded
  • Spackled
  • Painted
  • Had a beer
  • Installed track lighting
  • Installed washer & dryer
  • Installed dimmer switch
  • Removed two shutters
  • Cut my hand while removing the second of two shutters
  • Tried to remember when my last tetanus shot was
  • Received tetanus shot
  • Made 7 trips to Home Depot in as many days
  • Had a beer
  • Did a fair amount of writing
  • Stained two bookcases (acutally, they hold CDs)
  • Watched the Two Towers (Extended DVD, of course)

* The list excludes the holidays themselves, which were/are very nice. List items subject to change, removal or amendment without notice.