Day after Thanksgiving

We had a great Thanksgiving yesterday with Ed and Gina. This was the first time they had a dinner party in their new house, and we were happy to contribute. We did the first course, Risotto a la Milanese, which is a basic white risotto with pancetta and saffron. We then kicked around pitching in here and there on the turkey and other food while drinking wine, which means that the rest of the afternoon while we waited for the food to finish was just a happy warm feeling.

Almost forgot to mention: Ed is a computer monster. With something like six PC towers around, two PS2s, two PS1s, an XBox, a Dreamcast, a Saturn, and shelves full of old Intellivisions, Colecovisions, 2600s, and an Apple IIe for good measure, the place is full of gear. Plus software. Suddenly my 900 CDs don’t seem so bad.


Esta is doing her Thanksgiving blogging a day early, and gives thanks for a long list, including the keiretsu, our Pop-pop, and Parliament, among others.

I’m thankful too, for:

  • My loving and patient wife Lisa;
  • Esta: her encouragement, wit, and blog;
  • My Pop-pop, for his enduring humor, strength, and everything else;
  • My parents and in-laws for their love and support;
  • Our house and the fact that it’s still standing;
  • All my friends from Sloan;
  • Greg and Craig, for wit, insight, and steadfast friendship;
  • Tony Pierce, Doc Searls, and Moxie for good reading;
  • Brent Simmons, for good reading, good software, and net.friendship;
  • Dave Winer, for the above, plus good platforms and for surviving his surgery to blog, blog again;
  • Sonic Youth and Arvo Pärt, for transcendence;
  • the Cascadian Chorale and the E-52s, for the opportunity to perform;
  • My readers, for the feedback, the sympathy, and the flow;
  • This weblog, for helping me keep my sanity.


Type lust

I think I might have to add another category or else transform “Web Design” into just “Design&#8221. As a result of finding, I’m learning about all sorts of type things that I had left behind over the past few years.

I used to fancy myself a typographer, of the digital sort anyway, because unlike my peers in college publications I understood kerning and leading and could identify a few hundred typefaces by sight. (This led to some fun party games with Tyler Magill. One of us would come up with a totally bizarre phrase and the other would have to identify the best way to set it in type. Having an actual computer or type specimen sheet around was cheating…) But somewhere along the way my type lust grew dormant. Not extinct–the fact that I do curly quotes by hand in my HTML should testify to that. Just not active.

Today it’s fully reactivated after looking through the catalog at Fountain. Not only do they have some of the best traditional serifed text faces I’ve seen, including Montrachet, Monteverdi, and Baskerville 1757, but they also have some killer display faces, including the Ketchupa, Mustardo, and Mayo trio. Plus of course free downloads

my font lust

This is a sample using Fountain’s interactive typesetter. It was set in Montrachet Italic.

Playing with CSS again

It’s always driven me nuts that the month links didn’t line up properly underneath my site calendar. I figured it had something to do with the way I had defined the div around the calendar, but I didn’t have time to look at it until this afternoon.

The problem was that the div was defined to start at 70% of the page width and take the rest of the space on the page, but the content was centered in the div. For some reason, the table had a different center than the line following it, which caused the month links to show up askew.

Easy fix, right? Just recode the width of the calendar div. Except that it turns out not to be simple with CSS. Basically, what I want the calendar to do is this:

  • Hug the right hand side of the page, most of the time
  • If the window is too narrow to put the calendar to the right of the logo and still be visible, either:
    • wrap the calendar to the next line, or
    • scroll the calendar off the page to the right.

I don’t know a way to manage all of those things at once. I currently have changed it so that the calendar hugs the right hand side (for what it’s worth, I changed the width to 190px, the same as the min-width; eliminated the left attribute; and set the right attribute to 0). But if you shrink the browser window too far, the calendar overprints the site logo.

Actually, this isn’t the biggest problem, since the content starts to run into the nav bar before this happens… This is all because there’s no concept of “min-left,” the minimum left distance from the left hand bounding box that an element needs to respect.


Pilgrim: XHTML no replacement for RSS

Mark Pilgrim surveys a crop of new postings that contrast RSS for syndication vs. semantic coding in the first place and sez they’re all wet. In doing so, he draws a useful line between XHTML theory and blogging practice:

…this latest XHTML-as-syndication movement seems to be based on the principle that “syndication is so incredibly important that you must immediately stop whatever you’re doing with your web pages, upgrade to XHTML, validate your markup, restructure your home page to include all and only the content you’re willing to syndicate, and by the way, would you please unlearn that ugly nasty presentational page layout language you’ve been using for years and learn this wonderful happy structured semantic markup language instead?”

It should be obvious to any rational observer that this will go nowhere fast. A syndication format that requires valid semantic XHTML markup? Spare me. 9 out of 10 bloggers can’t even spell XHTML.

Between user resistance, bandwidth issues, sites that don’t want to syndicate their entire content, Pilgrim goes on to coin an important principle: “Syndication is not publication….It’s something else, a different medium.” Right on. The iCal to RSS experiments alone should tip off most intelligent observers that there’s value in a standalone syndication format, and real power in separating syndication from publication.

A year ago today…

Today’s posts from a year ago:

  • “‘I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life – so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls.’” (Matt Cartmill)
  • “I do have some nifty music that the E-52s will be performing shortly. We’re going to larn us some hol’day stuff if it kills us, hyuh!” We never learned that arrangement, sadly. It was an arrangement of “Let it Snow” that Jim Heaney wrote for his a cappella group in Washington that the Cheeselords subsequently performed.
  • … and of course, “Alison’s PantsCam: The best WebCam since the first one.” Which, frighteningly enough, still seems to be live.


Somebody must have lied

… because the weather here is fine. Cold, maybe, but clear. For the third day in a row. Is this really Seattle in the wintertime?

I feel good this morning. I feel like I could really get some things done today. Unfortunately that makes me want to work on things around the house rather than at work. But I’ll persevere. To quote myself quoting Beck:

I’m a driver, I’m a winner. Things are gonna change, I can feel it.


Greg Macs it up

Greg has finally made the move to Mac OS X. He asks for software recommendations. I would start with NetNewsWire Lite. If you like the new Sherlock keeping you from going to a ton of different web sites, you’ll love NetNewsWire bringing all the blogs you read daily to you. Including this one.

After that? Well, I might get an app writing to the Blogger API one of these days. After all, we’ve finished painting the house now!

Say goodbye to painting

We painted trim last night and today (three window frames, two door frames, baseboards, five windows) in the front bedroom, and put a second coat of paint (“Washed Lemon”) on the walls. We also lost a little of the paint on the moldings to the masking tape. (Aside: when did masking tape become blue? And when did it start having an appetite for high gloss paint?)

In between, we painted the ceiling and the walls above the trim bar in the parlor (now called the Sun Room, owing to the color) a brighter white. And hung the shades. Gotta love Smith and Noble: mail order custom shades, thankyouverymuch. We’ll have pictures shortly, once we finish hanging the Italian china.

And once I finish touching up the damaged trim where some of the paint got taken off by the tape, we’re pretty much done with painting. At least until next year….

Salon: U2 chickened out

Annie Zaleski reviews the new U2 compilation, The Best of 1990-2000, with mixed emotions in Salon. “Revisionist history” isn’t a bad description. Certainly ten years ago I would have expected “The Fly” to make it onto a best-of compilation. With that throbbing bass line, nasty guitar hook, and curiously vulnerable chorus vocal, it was the pivot away from the wide-eyed Americana into which U2 had stooped in the late 80s, back into a defiant embrace of good old fashioned decadence. It’s not on the compilation, though. Neither is “Lemon” or “Elevation” or even “The Ground Beneath Her Feet.”

Okay, so the disc doesn’t live up to its title. (And the b-side disc is worse. The b-side disc for 1980-1990 was the best part of the package, lots of lost songs (like “Walk to the Water” and “Luminous Times”) that true believers cherished and no one else had heard. This one? Skanky disco remixes of tracks deserving and undeserving. I miss the original mix of “Lady with the Spinning Head” and “Salomé.”) But there are some things it does right. It lays claim to some good songs from the otherwise misbegotten Passengers album, for one. And it reminds me that Pop was a truly dark and magnificent album… in places.

I walk away from this compilation a little disappointed. It, like the new songs “Electrical Storm” and “The Hands That Built America,” is too safe. This isn’t the band that wrote

It’s no secret that a conscience can sometimes be a pest
It’s no secret ambition bites the nails of success
Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief
All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief


Morning fog

Driving into work this morning, someone had airbrushed the landscape away. A diffuse glow hung over the creek bordering the park. Seattle doesn’t like to be really cold during the fall, I think. It’s happier chilly and shrouded.

I vacuumed, cursed and picked up wet leaves with my hands last night in the dark. Patches of bare mud showing through our much abused lawn. The cherry tree conspires with the maple next door to rob the grass of light. Fall has its revenge though and both huddle naked now plotting their cloaks for spring.