December 2002 Archives
Happy new year, everybody. This has been a great year for all kinds of different reasons. Can't wait to see what the next one brings.
Oh, and look for a new issue here sometime in the next two weeks. We may do things a little differently this time around; watch this space for announcements. (And e-mail me if you want to contribute!)
Stop staying up until 3 AM catching up on your favorite weblogs, news sites and shopping on Amazon for modern reproductions of the toys you grew up with in the 80s. (God bless Amazon.) G'night, folks.
My New Year's resolutions are adding up excruciatingly quickly. I still need to come up with a truly great daily schedule to make sure I get it all done, though. This year I'm going to lose 20 pounds of flab and pack on some muscle, read at least 12 classics (one a month), improve my chops in PHP, mySQL, Flash and other stuff, pay off my debts and try to get my savings account to a healthy size. All of these are doable, they just require something which has always been my downfall: an exquisite combination of resource management and self-discipline. My junior high math teacher, Mr. Pim, always used to say at least once every class, "Self-discipline is the key to success in life." He's absolutely right. Anybody got any tips or techniques for improving one's self-discipline? One of my friends mentioned yoga or other forms of meditation. At the moment, I'm unconvinced. Can any of you speak to the effectiveness of such things?
Oh, I think I forgot to mention these. The site I was working on for DC-area photographer Keith K. Annis has gone live over at kkap.com, and my last legacy design for The Advisory Board Company has gone live over at advisoryboardcompany.com. I'm impressed that the second one survived my leaving as well as it did. A big 'thanks' to the guys who finished it up in my absence. As for the former, that was a lot of fun. Any of you who need a pro photographer for anything down in the DC area, go see Keith. Tell him I sent you.
Wow, things around here have been quiet. On this page, I mean. You know, what with the lack of postings at whatnot. Sorry about that spending time with my friends and family here in Ohio has seemed a bit more important. In the last couple of days I've met up with a large number of my friends, almost none of whom have websites, and spent at least one entire day without going online. Gasp! Worse? I liked it. Gasp!
I'm also working on the new dreamsbay.com, rejiggering the way the site is pitched to reflect more of its one-man-band-with-occasional-reinforcements nature. This is tricky. I am also trying to line up content for the Winter edition. This is trickier. I imagine there will be a great rush of action behind this keyboard when I get back to Maryland... But then I remember that there are friends in mass quantities descending upon our house for New Year's. So, um, maybe... Thursday?
Ho, ho, ho! Christmas here in Ohio was really, really good this year. I got to see my family, a bunch of friends I hadn't seen in forever (I didn't even recognize one of them, which was weird) and Santa was extremely kind to me this year. I am now a member of the white earbud club. (Although one of the first things I did was toss aside the white earbuds for my clip-on Sony headphones. I've never been able to stand the bud-style headphones, as they always fall out of my ears.)
Brief aside: iChat apparently doesn't work while connected to the Net via AOL under Mac OS X. I guess Apple has its standards.
Sorry for the short posts lately. The AOL connection is slowing things to a crawl on my laptop... Any sizable insights will have to wait until the beginning of next week, I suppose.
Hope you all are having a very, very merry holiday season!
If at all possible, try to move to a new home in December. For those of us who have difficulty remembering random bits of data, like your own new zip code, return-addressing a decent-sized stack of Christmas cards will drill those digits straight into your memory.
In other news, I am safe and sound back in my parents' house in Shreve, Ohio. More news to follow after an insane Christmas shopping bonanza today.
Next post will be from the homeland of Ohio. Apologies for not making many posts this week; my friend Aaron is staying in our house for a couple of days now and a few more after we return from Christmas, and all my spare time has been sucked up by doing Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, even Christmas cookies. The season is upon us, even if the weather here in Bethesda, Maryland is something akin to 60 degrees. The heck. Ah, well -- my folks assure me there's snow on the ground back home. I may have a white Christmas yet. Here's hoping.
So while doing my Christmas shopping, I picked up Coldplay's new A Rush of Blood to the Head, and it's good, but it's not the incredible art that people seem to be making it out to be. It's a nice example of fairly nice, slightly-more-intelligent-than-most pop puff music, but that's about it. It's no Hard Candy or The Future That Was, in other words. There are better places to spend your allowance, kids.
The biggest trouble with going to a midnight movie is that then you don't get to bed until 5:30 AM. And then you don't wake up until noon. And then you don't really get going on the day until around 1. And then 1:30 rolls around and you're like, Hey! Where'd my day go!?
Bang, bang, hammer, hammer.
Just got back from the midnight showing of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. All I can say is, wow. There are going to be a lot of pissed-off diehard Tolkien fanatics out there because of the sheer number of liberties Mr. Jackson took with the story, but what he's come up with is one really impressive high-octane thrill ride. Better than The Empire Strikes Back for "part-two-of-three" movies, in my humble opinion. My only complaint is that the number of helicopter shots in this series is getting excessive, but all things considered it was an incredible flick.
That was my "new project" detector going off. Aha.
And because I'm a horrible tease of a dork, I'm not gong to say anything more about this yet.
For some reason, I feel anxious. Nervous. I wonder what that means.
These things, when combined in the right proportions, make the winter blahs disappear:
Spent pretty much the whole day hammering on a couple of different client projects. Feeling pretty good about the lot.
Did find a couple of interesting reads during my forays out into the rest of the world, though. First off, the guys over at k10k are beta testing an OS X port of their mood-monitoring app, Moodstats. I wish they'd include some way to post a daily graphic to a website to accompany a blog, but they've said that they're not looking for feature suggestions right now. Patience.
Second, Nick Denton is unveiling his new "weblog media businesses", Gawker and Gizmodo. The former is "an online magazine for Manhattan", and the latter is "a weblog for the gadget addict". They're being billed as "two sites covering categories too small to warrant dedicated print publications, but with an appeal to advertisers sufficient to support a bare-bones editorial operation. This is what Jeff Jarvis calls nanopublishing." New buzzword, old idea. Whether or not they'll be able to make money will be interesting to watch. Denton's onto one thing, though it's easier to pitch ads when you have a very specific target market. Ironically, the wider your audience, the more difficult it is to sell ads. Been there, done that.
Third, Steven Berlin Johnson had a piece in Slate earlier this week, "Is the computer desktop an antique?" It's interesting because it describes the way that Apple and Microsoft seem to be swapping places in the user-interface universe: Apple extends its OS with the inclusion of its iApps (iTunes, iPhoto, iChat, iCal, etc.) which handle each of its users' different types of data-handling problems. Microsoft's new Longhorn project, on the other hand, is working towards system-level integration of everything through a massive database. It could be a very good idea, but I'd have to see how it's implemented. The irony is how the Mac OS is getting more complicated, and Windows seems to be trying to become more simplified. Worth the reading.
My folks, Jenny and Nick F. and I went out to Legal Sea Foods for my birthday, and they had the best lights hanging from the ceiling.
When Jenny and I were driving back to Ohio a couple of weeks ago, we ran (as always) into a rainstorm. I had my PowerBook in my lap, and when I looked down, I saw this. Beautiful.
I just downloaded a whole ton of pictures off my digital camera, and I thought I'd share some with you folks. Much of it's melted off by now, but this is that snow I was talking about the other day...
Some people start weblogs, make three entries and then abandon them. Not our good Mr. W. R. Coughlan, aka magus23 (bonus points if you get the reference). Good stuff. A taste:
Instead, I think I’ll write about a little argument my wife and I had this past weekend. We were discussing my all-time favorite Christmas movie, the kind that makes me well up with emotion, really feeling the true meaning of the holiday.
Naturally, I’m talking about John McTiernan’s Die Hard.
Visit, bookmark, enjoy regularly in moderation.
Started sniffling a bit yesterday, woke up this morning feeling exhausted, and I think I'm just about ready to throw in the towel and admit that I've got a cold. Yuck. Still more proof for the concept of karma.
It's weird when you look a little closer at the details in the webbing. My friend Carrie has been telling me about her friend Drew. I've been keeping a very interested eye on the whole content-site business model issue, and my other friend Rusty (from Kuro5hin) just weighed in with this piece on the recent Sony-sponsored "advertorial" that appeared on Salon. Lo and behold, the advertorial is about Drew and his wife. Whoa.
The ghost of good intentions
Wanders through these open doors,
Whistling a soft, low dirge,
Contemplating a career of misplaced steps.
Damn, I miss Moxy Fruvous.
Whew! So, on Friday night Jenny, Nick, Nick, Lisa and her boy Eric (who is a quite cool fellow, I should say) all gathered at the house for pizza and movies to help me celebrate the big 2-5. Most excellent conversation and camaraderie was enjoyed by all. Then, on Saturday, my folks came out from Ohio and took a handful of us out to dinner at Legal Sea Foods, one of my favorite restaraunts down here. And then today, my folks and Nick Ferraro and I all went out to the International Spy Museum, over to the Old Post Office for lunch and then down to Georgetown and The Art Store, where I picked up a really, really cool desktop easel to help me do some new drawings for my portfolio and my Christmas cards and so on. What a great weekend. Thanks, everybody you guys rock.
Anyone out there who is self-employed will know exactly what I mean when I say this. Being self-employed is wonderful because you are free to do whatever you want. And it is horrible because if you want to succeed, the only thing you are allowed to want is to work.It's true. That's why I'm doing my usual work on my birthday: networking, client emails, putting out feelers and other general things. Yeesh.
Every so often, you come across a site that's much like your own, so much so that it makes you laugh out loud as you click through its pages. All Inkblots fans should be sure to visit Bookslut, an Austin-based literary webzine that's doing more or less exactly what we were when we got started way back in 1995. The writing is razor-sharp and opinionated and down-to-earth, the subjects are fascinating, and the whole thing is chock-full of character. Congratulations to the proprietor, Jessa Crispin, and her crew keep up the good work!
My favorite line, found in Ms. Crispin's weblog:
There are a thousand 'Best of the year' lists online, but I'm trying really hard not to link to them. (I cannot, in good conscience, link to anything that continues the extended blowjob that the literary community has been giving to Jonathan Safran Foer.)More recently, Ms. Crispin groused that the good Mr. Foer's Everything is Illuminated won the Guardian First Book Award over Hari Kunzru's The Impressionist. Now, I haven't read Illuminated, but I've been working on a review of The Impressionist for a while now, and I can't seem to get past how blatant Mr. Kunzru's glossy influences are he is (or was) the music editor at Wallpaper*, one of the most grotesque fashion glossies on the market today. (I know, I know, it started out as a joke and was meant to be taken ironically, but it sure seems to me that it's lost all its irony since then.) Almost all glossies can be boiled down to one simple thing: sex sells. And so, apparently, can The Impressionist: Kunzru examines both personal and national identities in an interesting, well-written book, but every time Kunzru wants to do some metaphor-wrangling, he always turns to sex. I'm no prude, but the whole thing felt to me like the old saying, "When all you have is a hammer..."
Looks like I may have to go pick up the Foer just to have a nice argument with a fellow editor.
I feel like there's something introspective, something deeply reflective I should be writing here. Today's my birthday. 25, to be exact. It's a strange birthday, one of those not-young-but-not-old birthdays. It feels like a pretty good place to be, and I feel like I'm doing pretty well for 25. Trying to start up my own company, still hammering on the novel, about to ring in seven years' worth of Inkblots... Not too shabby, no. I didn't get the novel or the portfolio site updated for today like I'd been hoping to, but I'm not going to stress about it. It's my birthday, after all. :)
I'll let you all in on a little secret, though. Birthdays when your friends are scattered across the world are kind of a bummer. Makes it kind of tricky to get everyone together to go out for a pint.
I wonder if there's any connection between Dan Pink's Free Agent Nation rise of work-at-home consultants, TiVo and the rise of nifty television programming for fairly intelligent people (Naked Chef, Junkyard Wars, Monster Garage, Trading Spaces, The West Wing etc. etc.). I know that there are a lot of days that I'll put on what TiVo's recorded in the last week for background noise. And I'm not entirely sure how much my perception of this "rise of good television" is related to my growing older and how much is just my losing my taste for crap TV. I can't stand Will and Grace, for instance, or almost any other sitcom these days. I still enjoy Friends every so often, but for the most part... Ugh.
From The Guardian: The Reinvention of Jamie "Naked Chef" Oliver. Apparently our favorite "pukka" chef is now teaching unemployed young Brits how to become chefs. Good on ya, Jamie. Somebody tell The Food Network to start airing this, quick.
Whoa. Last night they were calling for snow. A lot of snow. Every time "they" call for "a lot" of snow, we get something like half an inch, if that. Winters here in Maryland aren't diddly squat compared to some of the rip-roaring, blizzard-snorting winters we used to have back in my day in Ohio. Uphill. Both ways.
This time, however, "they" were right on the money. Holy cats. We've got something like six inches of snow out there, and it's still coming.
New, previously undiscovered drawback of working at home: no snow days.
Recently, the idea of what it means to be "a good American" was brought up in conversation. What does it really mean to be a good American, in the eyes of the government? Is it nodding and smiling to whatever the current administration says? Is it openly criticizing the government in times of national crisis? Is it going along with the majority opinion? Is it trying to give the majority what it wants, whether that's what's good for it or not?
It's the last point that really bothers me. In a democracy, we're supposed to be governed by majority rule, right? Well, what if the majority is wrong? If the majority is wrong, then it is up to the real leaders of the culture to stand up and attempt to illuminate the masses? If the masses still insist on pursuing an erroneous course of action, should a real American swallow his own beliefs and join the popular cause, attempt to leave the country, or...?
I recently read part of Dinesh Disouza's new book, Letters to a Young Conservative. In it, he's asked why he's a conservative. He basically says that liberals try to see things from both sides, while conservatives recognize that there are two sides, and one is simply wrong. That bothers me at some deep level. It's like all those people that drove me nuts in high school: they wouldn't even discuss theology, because they were right and anything else is wrong.
If the conservatives were to look around them in America and see that they weren't the majority, tried to illuminate the masses around them but fail, and then decide to seize power and do "the right thing" regardless of legality or whether or not it was what the people wanted, would they be "good Americans"?
Take that thought and exchange any terrorist flavor-of-the-day for the word 'Americans', and you'll see what we're up against.
Ever found yourself staring at a project of such magnitude that it has you quivering at your own sheer gall? This winter marks Inkblots' seventh year in existence and the launch of a more ambitious format. I'm putting the calendar together as we speak, and lo, it's a thing to behold. :)
I just did a fantastic interview with two of the folks behind Born Magazine for our upcoming winter edition. Look for it to go live sometime in January. We got to talk about a lot of great things, from the philosophy of collaborative poetry to digital storytelling. It's always an amazing high to speak with brilliant people with shared interests. Man, that was fun. Heh. That's why I do this. :)
One of my projects for this week is revamping either geoffreylong.com or dreamsbay.com. They both need it, and they're intertwined with each other as tightly as a double helix. I'm looking to extend the scope of geoffreylong.com to more than just my portfolio, but now I'm beginning to feel a little of that "how much do I share?" anxiety.
There's different things that I'd like to add to my personal site (various projects from the last 12 months, a section about my writing, a links section) and there are things I'm planning to remove (the tools section, certain older projects). The funny thing is the whole thing about marketing yourself. What kind of face do you put on yourself? What kind of graphics do you associate with yourself? What look and feel, what general tone? Do you do something accurate, or do you do something you would think was really cool if you saw it somewhere else?
Well, I'm back in the DC suburbs, working like a mad thing to catch up with email, what's happening in the universe and what to tackle next. There's work to do!
It sounds like everyone in my circle (so far) had great Thanksgivings. And now we hae free rein to go nuts over Christmas. Woo!