Saturday, October 29, 2005

eolo perfido: propaganda - the series

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click to enlarge. photo by eolo perfido.
The right wingnut natterers are tsk-tsking about a series of photos considered anti-Amerikan. By Eolo Perfido, a French-born artist currently working in Rome, who says the photos are his way of pointing out that some things just don’t work in the good ol’ US of A.

I particularly like this one, named “Propaganda 4”—but go check out the entire series yourself, form your own conclusions. Or don’t—they’re just very interesting.

While you’re there, take a look at the rest of his work as he is one of the more interesting photogs I’ve seen in a while.

Oh, and as long as we’re looking at disturbing images of our beloved country, take a look at Chris Jordon’s photography. I actually find his photos more shocking than Perfido’s stuff—this is art we “created” ourselves, so there should be no room for people to get snitty about some furrener (Jordon is an American consumer himself, he says on his site). Below is one of his photographs, titled “Crushed Cars, Tacoma 2004.” (Go to his website to see this photo enlarged.)

Crushed Cars by Chris Jordan
posted by lee on 10/29/05 at 01:00 PM

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finally, i redesigned my home page

Since the copyright was showing 2002, I figured my home page was overdue for a spiffing up. Got a bee in my bonnet and just spent five hours making it. Will do the resource page one of these days, and eventually re-do my resume. Neither are quite so urgent. The home page was embarrassing, though.

It validates as xhtml 1.0 strict, believe it or not. I have a couple of things to twitch in the CSS and that will validate as well, though I’m not going to worry about declaring background colors and all that when I don’t really need to. It’s a simple page, not something that’s a template for many others.

I built it on the fly, using Firefox to check it as I went along. Naturally, when it was perfect in Firefox, it sure wasn’t it IE. So I spent some more time twitching it to get it looking good in IE. It looks slightly less good in Foxfire now, but the overwhelming majority of people who visit my site use IE, so I’m more concerned that it looks ok in that. Or at least, I THINK it does—too tired to test on other machines. If you notice anything weird or broken or just want to comment, please do!

By jove, I think I’ll see the sun rise in a little while—I’m going to bed. It’s warmer there, anyway. We tried not to turn on the furnace until November, but it’s just gotten too damned cold and, more than anything else, damp. I’m thinking about it because my feet are cold and I’m looking forward to my nice warm bed—will have to unroll the blankets from Stanley and the cat when I get up there ... I hope it’s pleasant enough tomorrow to work on planting tulip bulbs. Or later today, I mean.

posted by lee on 10/29/05 at 01:46 AM

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Friday, October 28, 2005

two, no three, redesign misfires

We use 37signal’s Basecamp project management application. We love it. Makes projects so much more manageble and a cost we can even afford as a tiny design shop. I freely endorse it, and this is without even an affiliate agreement—they don’t need this because their application is that good. The criticism that follows is purely aesthetic—has nothing to do with the way Basecamp works (both as an application and as in “works for us”).

And it’s this: switching to a pale gray background looks sucky. Wimpy. And it screws up the way our logo looks. All I want to be able to do is select a white background, or be able to set it to match our branding rather than some idea of what the 37 Signals designer think looks good. Because it mucks up our branding, that hideous pale gray background. It sucks away my pleasure with using Basecamp. I don’t grok why the folks at 37signals think we should have to re-do our branding to work in an application that we PAY to brand with our logo and our colors—this is so contrary to what I thought was their overriding, customer-centric philosophy. I’m trying to live with it but, really, when I go to the log-in screen and see how awful it looks to have my logo forced into a white box floating on a sea of wimp gray, it really irritates me. Makes me less productive.

I did let Basecamp guru Jason Fried know what bugged me about it. He just said, “Thanks for your feedback and thoughts.” [whine]Maybe we have to get one of those premium subscriptions to matter more.[/whine] That’s not really fair—Jason Fried and the Basecampers have been exceptionally responsive to subscriber requests. They just missed on this design decision.

SALON
Ok, next. Salon. Salon’s redesign is so bad I hardly know where to begin. Setting aside the rapid deterioration in its content under new editor-in-chief Joan Walsh, it still stunned me that a redesign that they claim to have spent a year working on is so bad. The design is bad, and the implementation is so half-assed it never should’ve been tried. Didn’t they ever hear of dev servers? Beta testing? Usability testing? Sheesh.

More "two, no three, redesign misfires"

posted by lee on 10/28/05 at 11:33 AM

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all libby, all the time

Libby indicted. For lying to the grand jury. But not for leaking. Nobody, so far, was named as being responsible for the leak. And still, Novak seems to get off scott free. Fitz-boy says it’s not really over yet (his press conference is on the telly as I write this), but I’m so deeply cynical about this administration that I’m assuming that the cabal decided Libby would be the one to fall on his sword and this will be the end of it.

posted by lee on 10/28/05 at 11:28 AM

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

natick redmen vs. framingham, uh, frappacinos?

At long last, we managed to get up to Massachusetts to watch nephew Ben play football. He plays for his middle school here. I am happy to report that his team won, a resounding 8-0 victory. Pretty good team. The quarterback is Doug Flutie’s nephew—sports talent must be in the Flutie genetic code. Team Natick actually plays defense quite well: there were two downs in the last quarter where the Framingham ball was just ten yards from their goal line—but Natick held them off.

The Framingham field, though well-lighted, has a goal post only at one end. Very strange, like goalposts cost too much money or something. Oh, and a tiny section of bleachers, but only on one side of the field.

I wanted to take some photos of Ben, #65, in action. However, it was raining so hard I didn’t want to risk my camera. And man oh man was it raining! I was blowing sideways at times. I was so glad Stanley remembered to bring the rain ponchos we got at the Smithsonian. Ponchos is being generous—they are big garbage bags with hoods and logos. But no matter—they did the trick again and I only got soaked and muddy up to my knees.

It rained steadily throughout the entire game. It’s still raining. The coaches decided Friday to move the game from Sunday afternoon to Saturday night in order to avoid the rain. Now watch—it will probably be dry on Sunday afternoon! It’s been more years than I care to divulge since I spent and evening getting soaked watching football. But it was a lot of fun getting a chance to see Ben play—and he did a good job of it to boot.

When we drove into Natick early this afternoon, we were amazed at how high the Charles River was. I wonder how much higher it’s going to get. I hope the shored up damn in Taunton, MA holds: there is a LOT of rain coming down and no place for it to go because the ground is so saturated. The guys playing football were hydroplaning!

posted by lee on 10/22/05 at 08:59 PM

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

now it’s the wind

Very frustrating day. It’s pretty out, mixed sun and clouds, in the low 60s—would be a perfect day to work outside. However, the wind is really bad today. It’s sustained between 10 and 20 mph, gusting to 40 mph. And by gusting, I don’t mean every once in a while—I mean it’s more like a rapid cycle. Which turns the ripe butternuts into deadly projectiles, not to mention various branches and the occasional Lil Tyke slide. (Are butternuts good for anything? Are they edible? I mean other than for squirrels.)

But what’s even worse is out power is going in and out. It was supposed to be fixed during the last windstorm, but was not—they called and Stanley answered the phone telling them that yes, the power was on (the wind had died down), so they didn’t bother to fix the problem which, they said, is a loose connection. Which made me mad—I yelled at Stanley and told him you never tell the utility company a problem is fixed until you’ve seen them fix it with your own eyes. (I don’t yell at anyone very much, so you can tell how frustrated I was. It’s so hard to work with everything flickering.) So now we have to deal with this nonsense again and, since there are so many power outages here in Connecticut, I’m sure we’ll have to wait and wait.

It’s impossible to do anything—I don’t have the light so I can’t work on my books (taxes are due tomorrow and this year I pushed it to the limit—I’m about two hours from being done with them). We can’t figure out why we still have an internet connection—other than there must be a power supply built into the power strips. Don’t know how long it will last. And I’m using the laptop—don’t know how long it will be before I have to turn it off.

A tree blew down today (click to enlarge):
tree down at Strawberry Hill Avenue and Walter, Norwalk, CT.
This is at the corner of Strawberry Hill Avenue and Walter, right in front of Nathan Hale Middle School, about a block away from our house. It’s mostly gone now—they worked pretty fast to get it taken care of since SHA is so busy. 

I’m nervous about losing one of our trees—the ground is just so saturated I’ll be surprised and grateful if we don’t. Maybe we can plant my irises and the new rosebush tomorrow.

posted by lee on 10/16/05 at 12:23 PM

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

tucker sneaks a snooze

Meet Tucker, who sneaked up onto Mom’s couch to get comfy. Tucker is a dog rescued by my sister Carolyn. The folks who talked her into taking him told her he’s a pure-bred Labrador. Biggest damn lab I’ve ever seen! They said he was about three years old. He looks like he’s part bloodhound or great Dane, and looks like he’s less than two years old. Whatever—he’s a sweetie. His coat is a mess as he’d been badly neglected and was emaciated when Cara got him. He reeks of the medicine that will cure his skin problem (whatever it is)—the coat that is left is beautifully shiny so he’ll be gorgeous when he’s cured. He eats like he’s part horse, and seems to get a little more filled out daily. We took him to the beach, figuring he’s take to the water like a seal as most labs do. Well, he did, but he’s funny to watch since he jumps over the waves rather than going through them. This is a great dog—I’m looking forward to seeing what he looks like when we see him again next summer (or sooner—depends on when my niece gets married!) (click image to enlarge)

Cara's dog Tucker. copyright 2005 by Lee Fleming, Norwalk, CT. All rights reserved.

posted by lee on 10/15/05 at 09:33 PM

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ah, married life ...

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(click to enlarge) This was taken on our way home from vacation. There we were, half way between vacation and home, in a hotel room by ourselves, no obligations, internet connections a pain in the ass so why bother, nothing on the telly, nothing to worry about, already had dinner. Perfect set up for, um, fooling around, right? This was taken at, oh, 9:30 pm. The kitty was happy. I got a lot of reading done. Stanley was pretty wiped out, obviously. Must have been the sunburn!

posted by lee on 10/15/05 at 09:09 PM

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i like stripes

Who has better stripes? copyright 2005 by Lee Fleming, Norwalk, CT. All rights reserved.

(click to enlarge) lots of stripes

posted by lee on 10/15/05 at 08:55 PM

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serenity

Yesterday, we went to see Serenity, the movie based on the short-lived tv series Firefly. We’d spent a good many late nights viewing the DVD of the tv series (which we got from the Norwalk Library—how cool is that?) before we went to see the movie, and I’m glad we did. While the movie could be viewed and enjoyed without having seen Firefly, it is soooo much better if you know the backstories.

Firefly was astonishingly good. We never got a chance to see it while it ran on tv because Fox played so many scheduling games with it. It’s a series that should never have been cancelled until it played out.

Serenity is an excellent movie. I’m still in shock over a couple of things that happened in the movie, but even my distress over one event in particular doesn’t diminish how good this movie is. It most emphatically has a message, as all the best space operas/westerns do. What I liked about the movie was that it surprised me—some things, I didn’t see coming.

The actor who impressed me the most is Gina Torres, who plays Zoe. I’m looking forward to seeing her in other features. I know she was in one of the Matrix movies, but I don’t remember her role.

The thing I don’t like about the movie is that the music from Firefly is missing—the movie score isn’t anything special. Or even interesting. If the score from the series were available to buy, I’d get it in a heartbeat. The score from the movie IS available and I won’t bother. Whedon really dropped the ball here—why he didn’t bring back Greg Edmonton to do the movie music, I don’t know.

I don’t want to say anything about what the movie is really about because it would be too easy to spoil it—suffice to say that if you have any bit of a rebel streak in you at all, you will really like this movie. If you’re a bureaucrat or politician or middle management, you probably won’t.

posted by lee on 10/15/05 at 01:06 PM

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