Happy new year. As I finally crawled out of bed around 1:00 pm, I wondered why the kitties were not around. Saw that they were in the front room amidst the boxes and stuff we’re still unpacking (finished another box of books yesterday) and junk we’re getting ready to send to the Great PC God in the Sky on January 13. Just quietly sitting there. Very weird. But they’re cats, so ...
Let the dog out and took another peek at Twitch and Slink. And this is what I saw:
Well, is it dead or what? (Damn, the flash isn’t going off—no time to fool around with the camera, just shoot ... )
It’s not moving much ... (Damn, the dog is barking to come in, but I want another shot ... )
Slink isn’t quite ready to give up.
By the time I came back from letting the dog back in, Twitch, Slink, and the mousie were gone. Probably upstairs. It’s Stanley’s problem now—he’s the mouse undertaker around here.
Lake Superior State University is Michigan’s smallest public university with an enrollment of 3,000 students. It is known for its academic programs such as fisheries and wildlife management, engineering, teacher education, nursing, criminal justice, fire science and business management. Located in Sault Ste. Marie on the eastern end of Lake Superior, there’s not much to do once winter sets in, so on Dec. 31, 1975, former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and some colleagues cooked up the idea to banish overused words and phrases and issued the first list on New Year’s Day. The list has stayed the course into a fourth decade.
Through the years, LSSU received thousands of nominations for the list, which is closing in on its 1000th banishment. This year’s list is culled from more than 4,500 nominations received mostly through the university’s website. Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more. A committee makes a final cut in late December. The list is released on New Year’s Day.
So gitmo chipotle-flavored eggnog, curl up with an undocumented alien, and cut-and-run to the 2007 list. It won’t be coming to a theater near you.
Below is the list for 2007. To read all the comments (which are pretty funny in themselves), go to http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php (you can even add your own comments)!
GITMO—The US military’s shorthand for a base in Cuba drives a wedge wider than a split infinitive.
COMBINED CELEBRITY NAMES—Celebrity duos of yore—BogCall (Bogart and Bacall), Lardy (Laurel and Hardy), and CheeChong (Cheech and Chong)—just got lucky.
AWESOME—Given a one-year moratorium in 1984, when the Unicorn Hunters banished it “during which it is to be rehabilitated until it means ‘fear mingled with admiration or reverence; a feeling produced by something majestic.” Many write to tell us there’s no hope and it’s time for “the full banishment.”
GONE/WENT MISSING—“It makes ‘missing’ sound like a place you can visit, such as the Poconos. Is the person missing, or not? She went there but maybe she came back. ‘Is
missing’ or ‘was missing’ would serve us better.”—Robin Dennis, Flower Mound, Texas.
PWN or PWNED—Thr styff of lemgendz: Gamer defeats gamer, types in “I pwn you” rather than I OWN you. (I have to admit: I never, ever heard of this. But then, I’m not a gamer.)
NOW PLAYING IN THEATERS—Heard in movie advertisements. Where can we see that, again? “How often do movies premiere in laundromats or other places besides theaters? I know that when I want to see a movie I think about going to a shoe store.”—Andrea May, Shreveport, Louisiana.
WE’RE PREGNANT—Grounded for nine months.
UNDOCUMENTED ALIEN—“If they haven’t followed the law to get here, they are by definition ‘illegal.’ It’s like saying a drug dealer is an ‘undocumented pharmacist.’”—John Varga, Westfield, New Jersey.
ARMED ROBBERY/DRUG DEAL GONE BAD—From the news reports. What degree of “bad” don’t we understand? Larry Lillehammer of Bonney Lake, Washington, asks, “After it stopped going well and good?”
TRUTHINESS – “This word, popularized by The Colbert Report and exalted by the American Dialectic Society’s Word of the Year in 2005 has been used up. What used to ring true is getting all the truth wrung out of it.”—Joe Grimm, Detroit, Michigan.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR—The chewable vitamin morphine of marketing.
CHIPOTLE – Smoked dry over medium heat.
i-ANYTHING—‘e-Anything’ made the list in 2000. Geoff Steinhart of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, says tech companies everywhere have picked this apple to the core. “Turn on ... tune in ... and drop out.”
SEARCH—Quasi-anachronism. Placed on one-year moratorium. “Might as well banish it. The word has been replaced by ‘google.’”—Michael Raczko, Swanton, Ohio.
HEALTHY FOOD—Point of view is everything. Someone told Joy Wiltzius of Fort Collins, Colorado, that the tuna steak she had for lunch “sounded healthy.” Her reply: “If my lunch were healthy, it would still be swimming somewhere. Grilled and nestled in salad greens, it’s ‘healthful.’”
BOASTS—See classified advertisements for houses, says Morris Conklin of Lisboa, Portugal, as in “master bedroom boasts his-and-her fireplaces—never ‘bathroom apologizes for cracked linoleum,’ or ‘kitchen laments pathetic placement of electrical outlets.’”
Sunday I emptied another of the boxes of books that went from Stanley’s storage bin to our front room (three or four years ago—yikes!) It was a box of the books collected and sometimes rebound by Stanley’s mother and father.
It took me about an hour longer than it should have since, of course, I wanted to look at every book. It struck me how much more care and thought went into making books up until, I’d guess, the late 1950s or so. The typeface, the ornaments, the decorations, the endpapers. The publishers were as proud of their books as the authors—so much so that colophons seemed to be the norm. I haven’t seen a colophon in a new book—at least, none that I can recall.
Of course, I have a passion for type (the road not taken, I think), so I’ve always noticed it in book designs (and ads and magazines and ... ) Stanley’s father, Tommy Thompson (Samuel Winfield Thompson), was a type designer (he designed Quillscript, Mademoiselle, Baltimore Script among many other faces) so I thought I’d died and gone to heaven with the wealth of type-related resources in this house. Tommy was a protegé of W. A. Dwiggins, one of my favorite type designers (Metro is probably my favorite face), so there is a good-sized collection of work by and correspondence with Dwiggins. I even found a book designed, set, and signed by Goudy! But, what I’m writing about now is ...
The days of the week per date are the same this year as they were in 1906—maybe that’s why this particular book struck me (or it could’ve been the quotes—I, and particularly Stanley, are as cynical now about the things people were cynical about 100 years ago. Some things never change, it seems.) Here is the page for the first week in January:
This book was published in 1905 by Paul Elder and Company of San Francisco, and printed by The Tomoyé Press (San Francisco). I’ve scanned a few more pages from this book and put them on the jump page if you care to see them.
On Saturday, we took a bunch of computers, laptops, monitors, and printers over to Earthplace because they had a computer recycling day. Eight dead computers, three dead laptops, three or four dead or dying printers (Hewlett-Packards, most of them—they sure don’t last like they used to). Several monitors, including this huge monitor that was a state-of-the-art desktop publishing monitor back in 1993. Still works, but as Stanley says, it dims the lights in our entire neighborhood when it’s turned on. We made our donation and left it all there.
Not all of the electronics were ours—some were from Stanley’s technical support clients who didn’t know what to do with their dead electronics (he pulled the hard drives so there’d be no data problems, though ComputerFox, who processing the computer recycling, “shredded” the data left on the drives that were turned in). It’s way, way too hard to deal with dead or obsolete electronics: if I hadn’t stumbled upon the Earthplace notice about a month ago, we’d still be tripping over this stuff.
Then, later on Saturday, we took a couple of big bags of clothes to Goodwill in Norwalk. Yeah, yeah, I know the clothes will probably go to some third world country to get picked over. So what? Better than going to the landfill where they are of no use to anyone ever again. While we were at Goodwill, Stanley asked if I wanted to go in and shop. I laughed at him.
We have too much stuff. Books, in particular. I’m a good way through emptying the boxes in the front room—the boxes sitting there since Stanley emptied the storage bin, where he’d stashed all his stuff when he thought he would have to sell his house (he bought out his siblings, instead). We bought two more bookshelves on Sunday to hold the books that I couldn’t fit onto the bookshelves we already have in abundance. So, most of the books are put on shelves. The boxes and boxes of albums are all put on shelves. The boxes of Old House Journal and Whole Earth Catalog and yes, even Playboy and, oh yes, the comic books, are going in the attic. Or somewhere.
We did cull a lot of books and just dumped them. What? Dumped them? Gasp! Philistines ... no, really, they were mostly very obsolete textbooks and some crap feelgood self-help shit books that a former (former as in we haven’t seen him in years) friend dumped on us. Former friend was obsessed with collecting books—not reading them, mind you—and ran out of space in his tiny apartments so his bibliomania spilled over into our life. And our books could use another round of culling. Not the old books, the rare books, and the classics, but we have a lot of stuff such as manuals that aren’t relevant now, and a lot of paperbacks that are now getting so old they’d induce an asthma attack if we tried to read them. Maybe get rid of my Wall o’ Death (I used to be fascinated with true crime books).
My next project, by necessity, is going through eight years worth of paperwork and organizing them so I can do the books so I can do the taxes. Figuring out what I can dump (how long do we have to keep this stuff, legally?), filing what I can’t, and entering the stuff I haven’t entered. My main new year’s resolution is to catch the books up at the end of each month. Last year’s paperwork is just stacked—it’s an organized stack, but still a stack. I can’t stand it. I know there is all this research about how messes aren’t really that bad, sign of a creative mind and all that blah blah blah. I just don’t need to be this creative—I really do function better when things are under control. The appearance of it, anyway.
A couple of weeks ago, I read an article by Glen Wosley about how to keep email under control by making sure the inbox was empty at the end of each day and I have to admit, it’s made work a lot more manageable (I applied what works for me and ignored what didn’t—took me a whole day to do it right, but damn it makes things so much easier ... ) I monitor more than 20-25 websites, so I get a shitload of email all day, every day.
Tomorrow’s task: getting the billing done. Shoulda been done Monday ... plus a site for a new client is due to launch this week and more work on an interesting ecommerce project and enhancements for WestportNow.com (a photo selling application and an adserver network, with ads) and emarketing trials ...
THINGS IN THE WORLD
I’m not quite ready to plunge into the political world just yet—I’ve been paying attention, but I’ve needed to keep my stress levels under control (there’s a lot going on, a lot of worries I have about people I love) so I’ve been “laying low” for a bit. That is nearly over—it’s starting to get more stressful than not to keep my opinions to myself, especially as that lying hypocrite Lieberman gets press and ... but I don’t want to go there just yet. And I’m pissed about teardowns and con artists and the LNG island going into the middle of the Sound and all the catalogs we’ve been getting and mostly about the war and that damaged piece of work in the Oval Office and the morons who still support him and what he’s doing.
I think I’ll go find the cats and the dog and go to bed now. With any luck, I won’t have to unroll Stanley from the quilts too much (it’s cold tonight!)
January 7 was the five-year anniversary of this blog. I forgot to notice. Back in January 2002, I was writing about setting up the blog (originally done in Movable Type), seeing Lord of the Rings, watching the pre-Iraq BS leading to the war, and, hey, very warm January days. (Not anymore this year—it’s 15 degrees as I write this, headed down to 13.) Many links to things I found interesting (and many of these links no longer work).
If I hadn’t had this blog two years ago, when Stanley was undergoing his valve replacement and bypass surgery and the complications that set in because of the infection he got during surgery, I think I would have gone quite mad. I just poured it all out. Blog as catharsis. Sort of. I still have nightmares every once in a while about that whole trauma.
I guess I should let myself get back into the habit of blogging shorter entries when I think of things rather than saving it all up to blog at once and then forgetting about it or getting too busy. I liked doing it that way. Beats trying to remember where I saw something or trying to wade through my bookmarks—just do a search and tada! There it is! I like having a sort of record of my life and thoughts. I think.
And next week, on January 23, it will be our second wedding anniversary. Wow!
Stanley and I took a mental health afternoon off and went to see Pan’s Labryinth. We’re both huge fans of Guillermo del Toro since seeing The Devil’s Backbone (one of the best ghost stories I’ve ever seen), Hellboy, and Cronos.
Pan’s Labryinth is outstanding. I was kind of worried that all the raves the critics have been giving it were bullshit, kind of like the accolades heaped on crap like Dances with Wolves or The English Patient or [gag] The Sound of Music.
The movie is categorized as a fantasy, but that’s only what’s going on in one character’s head as she tries to escape the brutality of her life. It’s also about history and the heart of darkness and, I think, the reality of life for most of the children of the world.
Del Toro has a knack for getting the monsters right. The Paleman (the picture on the right) is the ultimate bogeyman. Ofelia, the little girl with the fantasies, looked at the murals in his chamber which show the Paleman devouring children. There is also a huge pile of shoes in the room, which made me think of Hitler and the Holocaust, which was underway and part of the backdrop of this movie. What got to me about this monster was I swear I dreamt of him myself, or a monster very close to the way he looks, as a child. Maybe our brains are wired to imagine monsters in a certain way.
Pan’s Labryinth is set in 1944 and, supposedly, a kind of continuation of The Devil’s Backbone, which was set in 1939. I think they show the impact of war on children, the despair children feel when their lives are completely out of their own control. There is a lot to think about. It’s interesting how much scarier a human, the Captain, is than even a bogeyman that eats children. And how deadening fascism is.
The little girl playing Ofelia, Ivana Baquero, is an amazing actress. She manages to play a tragic child without melodrama, without being twee. Sergi López is good as the Captain, showing evil and obsession without over-acting. And Maribel Verdú, as Mercedes, I thought played her part flawlessly. I liked the way the film looked, that slightly greenish tinge that you see in old color photographs. And the scenes beneath the ground were lit—I even wondered where the light was coming from and was grateful for it.
This is a line of dialog I thought was wonderful, when Ofelia asked the faun for his name: “Me? I’ve had so many names. Old names that only the wind and the trees can pronounce. I am the mountain, the forest and the earth. I am ... I am a faun.”
I think this movie is brilliant. It’s a hard movie—del Toro is not one to sugar-coat anything and this movie would’ve been weak if he had. It’s interesting to me that a lot of critics warn parents not to bring their kids to see this movie because it might scar them and, yes, it is scary. But then I think of the hundreds of thousands of kids who are living this daily; there are no lights that come up for them when the credits roll. That’s why it’s brilliant—it makes you think, and keep thinking, long after the lights come back on.
As an undergrad, I went to a tiny, Catholic college in Detroit: Marygrove College. At the time, it was part of a large consortium of Catholic colleges in the Detroit area, including the University of Detroit, a Jesuit university where I took most of my classes (it’s University of Detroit-Mercy now).
I’m thinking about this because I received an issue of the latest alum enewsletter, which contained a bit about the Marygrove campus being included in the Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project. So, since I love collections like this, I followed the link so I could see that they have.
Here is Marygrove’s main building, the Liberal Arts building, built in 1927:
Pretty spectacular. When I was there, one of my jobs was working for the special events office where we rented various parts of the college out for weddings and conferences. For this, I had a set of master keys, which means I had access to the entire campus (or access to the keys for the part of the campus that weren’t on the master key). So I came to know just about every square inch of the two main buildings—this one, and Madame Cadillac Hall which, when I was there, housed the education department, conference rooms, and the kitchen and dining rooms as well as various ballrooms and the refectory, etc.
My favorite place to go to get away from stuff was the belltower. Spectacular views from up there—along with the bats and the birds and the wind. I just had to remember to cover my ears every 15 minutes, when the clock chimed. I also used the steam tunnels a lot, especially during one particularly brutal winner. And, of course, we raided the kitchen. I spent a great deal of time on the fourth floor of this building, which was the art department. I also spent a lot of time in the powerhouse, which was where the pottery studio was housed, tucked away in the back woods.
Here is a photo of a room in Madame Cadillac Hall, called Denk Chapman:
Madame Cadillac was the original dormitory building, but by the time I was there (1973-77), a new, hideously ugly dorm had been built and this building was used for classrooms, conference rooms, and eating (the project doesn’t show the photo of the student dining hall—which is not nearly as pretty as the one they do show). The text that goes with the photo suggests that this room is used as a place for students to hang out. Not while I was there—students were allowed in there for special events or to work at these special events. It was one of my favorite rooms, though—it’s hard to tell from this, but it was a warm and inviting room just to sit and hang out or read. I had the key, remember, so I could—it was a good place to study and a lot more comfortable than the library or the dorm.
The former dorm rooms in this building (I lived in one of them during my last semester at Marygrove because I could due to the nature of my job—saved me a bundle on room fees) are beautiful, with oak and porcelain and tile floors and leaded glass windows. There were only two student residents all the time I was there—me, for that one semester, and another student who lived in what were formerly the dean’s quarters along with her young daughter. There were two entire wings of rooms used for artists studios in some cases, or for retired nuns who did not want to live in the convent. Mostly they were vacant, and silent. Almost enough to make you believe in ghosts.
It was an interesting time to be a student in a Catholic universtiy system. The younger nuns were shedding their habits and, in some cases, their vows. Liberation theology was just starting to take hold. A lot of guitar Masses. Catholic missionaries went abroad not to proselytize and convert, but to teach and tend the sick and help start businesses. We were mostly the children of blue collar workers and the solidly middle class and more often than not bewildered by the difference between Catholicism on campus and our home parishes. My first philosophy class, taught by a Jesuit at University of Detroit, freed me from religion, oddly enough. It was still a Catholic school, though—one of my closest friends had to leave school because she became pregnant without being married.
I don’t have any nostalgia for my undergrad days. Not even grad school days. That’s not to say I think I didn’t get a good education—I did, superb, in fact. It’s just that I was glad to be done with each phase of school. Ready to move on. I guess I’ve always been more interested in what happens next. I still am.
An interesting work week. Worked a lot, got a lot done, but, as usual, never enough. One project is on the brink of launching. One moving into a new phase. And a couple of major features to add to still another site, including an ad-management system and a photos-for-sale application—both of which are partially implemented. A lot of learning to do as one ecommerce application we use completely upgraded—I mean from the first line of code to the last, moving from cgi to php/mysql. Enewsletters gotten out, a marketing mailing, troubleshooting ... a lot of different tasks. Didn’t get all the January billing done yet, which moves it into a weekend task, alas.
I LOATHE INTUIT
I found out yesterday that my copy of Quickbooks is not compatible with Vista, which really pisses me off. I had to upgrade from a perfectly functional version of QB to a newer version when I changed to Windows XP, and now it looks like I’ll have to upgrade again when I get a new computer and switch to Vista—all because Intuit didn’t bother getting XP certification on current versions. Forcing an upgrade at nearly $200—it’s already annoying enough that it doesn’t work with IE7.
It wouldn’t bother me to upgrade QB every couple of years or so if the cost were reasonable—but $200 a pop is insane especially when it doesn’t really improve the basics of what I need it for: bookkeeping. QB 98 would still be just fine for me if it ran on any of the platforms I have now. I dumped the Intuit tax programs when they pulled the baloney with the rootkit installation—now I wish I could easily switch to another accounting program that does what I need it to do without being tied to the OS.
Tuesday, January 23 was our second anniversary. Cotton. Or china. We don’t need china, so we decided to make it cotton. I got Stanley some cotton t-shirts (two of which have yet to arrive) since that’s what he likes and I thought underwear would be mean. He got me some sheets I wanted, weird sheets, for the guest room (the room that’s mine except when we have guests). They’re turquoise, with embroidery on them. I love them. He also got me a huge bunch of Peruvian lilies in three different colors and they’re lovely, and took me to dinner at Lime Restaurant, which is our favorite.
The Lime was bizarre that night as it was extremely busy for a Tuesday night and there was only one waitress. So it was kind of like getting our food thrown at us, and they ran out of salmon (which Stanley usually gets) and no lava cake ... but it was ok, since we like just about anything you can get there, we really like the waitress, and were feeling pretty mellow. We felt sorry for our waitress because it was so insane. So we had steak with dijon sauce, caught up, and Stanley told me the plot of a book he’d just finished about a man-eating vine which I of course later dreamt about. Twice so far. We watched the Prez bullshit for an hour. Or rather, we watched the picture and I spent an hour trying to ignore Stanley’s muttering about the idiot so I could hear what the idiot had to say. Then we watched Webb’s response (and thought it was really well done). And then ... well it was a very nice anniversary.
IT’S DAMN COLD!
It dipped to a low of 4°F this morning, and now, about 6:30ish, it’s 15°F and dropping. Proof that it is COLD: last night, Stanley put the thermostat at 60° instead of 50°. Really. The other day, he took a picture of the kitties keeping warm on the shelf above the radiator in our bedroom (I couldn’t fix the eyes properly—but then, they really do look this satanic sometimes!):
Slink is an interesting kitty. He’s starting to feel more comfortable and bolder and has taken to teasing the dog—he knows Ginger will never be able to catch him.
ANOTHER LURID SUNSET
The sky was like this tonight, too, though not quite as lurid. I took this about a week ago—this is the view out my office window—I went outside to take this.
So it’s officially the weekend and I as usual have more plans than time, but that’s ok.
It’s really hard to type with a cat sitting on my shoulder.
This morning, the phone rang about 9:30 am. It’s Saturday—nobody calls that early; I sleep in on Saturdays. Who the heck ... so I figured I’d better answer it (no caller id on the bedroom extension—not that I could read it through bleary eyes, anyway).
“Hi Aunt Lee, this is Brian.” My nephew, who is a truck driver for Schneider (those pumpkin-orange trucks), was in Connecticut and used up his hours so was stuck at the truck stop until tomorrow evening. Or so he thought. He was at the TA Truckstop at exit 28 on I-84, which is Milldale, CT (next to Waterbury). He wanted to know if we’d come and get him.
Sure! But he called back a while later to tell us that he misread his timesheets and was only stuck there until 4:00 am Sunday, and since it was so far away from Norwalk, he’d try to see us next time. So Stanley and I decided to head up there an meet Brian for dinner. It really isn’t that far, particularly on a weekend when traffic is usually light. It’s just I-95 to Rt. 8 in Bridgeport, then straight up to I-84 and east a little bit from there—about 50 miles or so. We like Brian a lot and would’ve been sorry to miss him.
So, we had dinner with Brian at the Country Kitchen truck stop. We checked to see if there were any other restaurants around there besides the truck stop and couldn’t find anything that looked interesting, so what the heck. It was cheap at least.
Brian had just come down from Auburn, Maine I think he said, about a 250-mile trip. He said he saw a moose, was eye-level with the moose while he was sitting in the cab of his truck. He said he would’ve taken a picture but he didn’t want to do anything to piss off the moose, which, he said, can do serious damage to even big rigs. He said it’s so dark in Maine that the moon gives more light than his headlights.
Brian went with his dad Kevin to pick up Brian’s brother Aaron from Fort Lee in Virginia a couple of months ago, though they missed Aaron’s graduation ceremony, he said, because they didn’t know what company he was in.
He also told us about trying to get out of the Seattle area before the snowstorm hit there, but got stuck there anyway because his truck broke down. He was buried in 17 inches of snow and he had to sit in his truck for six hours before he got help.
He also told us that it was -38° when he was driving through Montana. When he pulled in to get some fuel, he said he saw signs that warned “Do not turn off engine.” Of course, he noticed them AFTER he turned off his engine and after fueling and trying to start the rig again, he realized why he shouldn’t have done that. He said he had to hit his starter with a hammer to get it going again. It was so cold out that his truck engine never got above 150° and though he had the heater blasting full and was bundled up, he just couldn’t get warm.
Brian also filled us in a bit about news from Michigan—Aaron working as a welder, his dad taking early retirement from Ford Motor Company (Brian said taking early retirement was a better deal for Kevin than the buyout offer or just getting laid off at the end of February). And Kevin’s travails in trying to sell his house so he can move down to Oklahoma (where his wife has family). It’s not at all easy to sell houses in the Detroit area—a lot of people are losing money selling, or have negative equity because of the ridiculous mortgages they were sold—which might have been survivable if the auto industry didn’t tank at the same time as the housing market started tanking. And he doesn’t know if Aaron will get deployed to Iraq to join his unit, which had already been deployed while he was finishing up boot camp—mainly because Aaron doesn’t know yet what’s going to happen.
And Brian’s mom, Carolyn, got rid of her cats! I was really shocked—had we known she was going to dump Lil’ Bits, we would’ve taken her home with us in November since she is such a sweet little cat and Twitch loves her. The orange cat, Uday, a gorgeous but extremely nasty cat, I won’t miss. I miss Carolyn—I wish she’d come and visit us again.
Here is a picture Stanley took of Brian standing next to his truck (and yes, I experimented with what Picasa can do a little—pretty impressive photo processor for a freebie—click to enlarge):
Brian said his truck usually looks better, but was coated with road salt from his trip down from Maine.
Hope we see him again soon. If he gets a bit closer to us, like the Milford or Branford truck stops, we can bring him home where he can shower, do his laundry, and get a home-cooked meal and even sleep in a comfortable bed if he has time. I’m glad he seems to like his job. My cousin Bruce works for the same company, but works out of the Dallas office—maybe their paths will cross sooner or later. Brian said he’s going to see if he can email photos with his camera phone and will send me a snapshot of something interesting if he can—I hope so.
Last month, we were contacted by Sharon Horowitz, who needed her website redesigned so she could launch her new business—CENTERNORTH—which is a technology and infotech advisory service (CIO and other C-level executive coaching, business strategy, leadership development, partnership services, and more). She had already spent lots of time and money with one of those web-based companies (Lo ... rks—and by web-based I mean they never actually meet clients face-to-face) that design a logo for you and for a lot more money, will also design a website for you.
I always thought this particular company did decent work, at least on logos, until Sharon showed me what they’d come up with. A logo with a really weak, calligraphic font with a swoosh no less. A really crappy website—the colors were good, but the only images I liked where the ones created with her mother’s artwork, but paired with some strange smoke stuff that in no way complemented the original paintings that were used. It was in no way standards-compliant and the tabbed navigation didn’t line up properly—very odd. The content was all in, but with loads of typos and weird spacings and mystery characters. The site looked dark and heavy, even though there was white space, it just wasn’t balanced. And there was no way to add to the site without having to re-do the coding (the navigation structure was weird, anyway, and not really appropriate).
But what was good is that most of the content was written, which is 75% of the battle in getting a site up.
We met Dr. Horowitz at a coffee shop and talked about what she had in mind, how she likes a more minimal look, and she later sent me more examples of the look that pleases her. Which is a look I happen to like a great deal. Since the company is a start-up, essentially (experienced team members who’ve worked together before, but not necessarily under the umbrella of one consultancy), the site needed to be easily scalable to add more topics, news, clients, and case studies; plus they needed a way to easily add new content as they built out the resources section.
So, of course, it made sense to use a content management system and, of course, the best one for the job is Expression Engine—that’s what we used. We have more content to get in, for the resources section. I love the art on this site, and I love the airiness. I thought about a background treatment, some brushwork or a good pattern, but the artwork is so strong I think anything else would just make it look too busy. Maybe not, but I like how it turned out without it. The content is also interesting, the case studies and research. I’m looking forward to reading the other papers that are going up over the next few days. All in all, it was very easy to work with Sharon on this site—I’m glad she had a strong vision for what she wanted as it made it much easier to put together. I know there will be some twitching and tweaking over the next few days, but the cms makes that fairly easy. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the business, and the site, evolves over the next few years.