Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

March 2008 Archives

Oh, man.  This is going to be an expensive week.  First Laura and I spent the afternoon shopping for supplies at the mall today, then I came home to find that Jim Butcher's next Harry Dresden novel, A Small Favor, comes out on Tuesday, as does the new album by R.E.M.  Both of these I knew were coming soon, but I wasn't sure exactly when.  And then someone brought this to my attention: the new MindStyle statue of uRac the Scribe from The Dark Crystal is now available.  I've wanted to buy something from that movie for a while now, but only now has just the right thing come across my radar.  From the listing at Entertainment Earth:

 The Dark Crystal, comes this superbly detailed and hued statue of uRac the Scribe. The decidedly collectible polyresin statue from Mindstyle is large (it measures 5-inches tall x 10-inches wide) and is a limited edition of only 1,500 pieces. It comes in a matching full-color box that is suitable for display, as well. The prayers of Dark Crystal fans and collectors alike are answered with this marvelous sculpture!

I mean, seriously...  How perfect is that for my office?


Todd Dominey shuts it down.
This is sad: after five years, What Do I Know?, the weblog of designer extraordinaire Todd Dominey, is closing its virtual doors. What he says is true – the site has been a virtual ghost town for months. Yet still it had a place of pride in my Inspirations folder, the collection of blogs from designers, thinkers and other creators that I would load up every time I was jonesing for a kick to the brain cells. To see it shut down completely is a bigger loss to me than if boing boing were to close. Oh, well – like he says, he's still Twittering, at least. As my own erratic posting here but more semi-consistent Twittering testifies, that seems to be what people do when they don't have time for regular blogging. I still hold out hope that this blog will pick up as I dedicate more time to writing (more on that soon), but we'll see – once April gets rolling, a more formal schedule should hopefully emerge. Hopefully!


Playing the Blues.
Open your eyes as wide as you can,
Make your pupils islands in the middle of moon-white seas,
And count the shades of blue you can discover in your periphery
(Cerulean, turquoise, navy, aquamarine, etc.) --
Be specific, be minute, be exact and precise,
Tick them off on your fingers and toes and follicles,
Rattle them off in your native tongue or in a language politely borrowed,
And consider the mosaic you could create if you could reach out your hands,
Carefully slipping a nail behind each tiny, perfect shade
And prying it loose of its containing world,
Collecting each sample into a tiny velvet drawstring bag,
Jumbling the hues together and mixing them up and rattling them around,
Listening to the shika-shake rhythm of one section of rainbow.


Beginning to grok MT4.
It's taken me long enough, but I'm finally beginning to understand some of the bizarre intricacies of MT4.  I'm still annoyed that some stuff that should be easier simply isn't, and I'm equally annoyed that there aren't more resources available online for MT4 yet (there are big gaps of 6A's official documentation that simply read 'coming soon') but I'm at least coming around to where the gang is going with this.  MT4 is clearly the biggest overhaul of the software in recent years, and once the smoke clears it'll be an impressive app.  Right now, though, it's still on slightly shaky ground; I spent all day simply cleaning up the code for the new commenting system that they've implemented (it's not at play on this blog yet, but it's currently being beta-tested at GAMBIT's Updates blog, and the C3 Weblog.

The biggest lesson I've learned from today's adventure has to do with reusable snippets of code. The new MT has some really nifty bits built-in to deal with reusable chunks that can be called from either a local level or a global level – and it's this latter function that's really quite clever.  It's an include file, really, but by including access to those files at the system level of MT4 it becomes possible to reuse the same functionality in multiple blogs at different sites, just like the ones I listed above.  Now all of those blogs use the same basic blog comment template, the same basic prev/next template and (mostly) the same footer template, with the stylings for each being determined primarily in the CSS – exactly the kind of thinking that the web's been trending towards for the better part of a decade.  My own code doesn't quite reflect the complete separation of content and markup yet since CSS still doesn't do some of the things I want easily enough for my tastes (let the hardcore CSS harpies come shrieking down upon my skull now, but it is what it is – sometimes a TABLE will do things that a DIV just won't without making CSS twist and turn like a circus contortionist).

The other intriguing thing about the new MT4 is how well it actually lends itself to doing some of the things I wanted to do with Inkblots years and years ago.  Every couple of weeks I get the twinge to relaunch Inkblots again, but now there are so many more demands on my time that it's difficult to imagine carving out those kinds of hours again for such a project.  Add to that a sense of "yeah, been there, done that" and it I suspect that my time would be better spent trying to do things I haven't done yet (making an honest-to-God video game, publishing a book, building a software app, etc.) and Inkblots' chances aren't looking good.  Still, never say never.

This might be my last post here until next week.  Laura's grandma passed away on Saturday morning and so she and I are going to be driving back to Ohio tomorrow night.  We'll be there through the following Saturday morning or so, and I'm not sure how much online time I'll have, but maybe I'll bring my camera along and try to get some classic Ohioana shots for Flickr.  (And some reference photos for another eventual project...)


Monstrous behavior.

Two things can be learned from the following story:

A foreign policy adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama resigned on Friday after calling campaign rival Hillary Clinton a "monster" during an interview with a British newspaper.

Samantha Power, a foreign policy aide on the Illinois senator's White House campaign, said the comments were inexcusable. They were published on Friday by The Scotsman newspaper.

"With deep regret, I am resigning from my role as an adviser to the Obama campaign effective today," Power said in a statement.

"Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor and purpose of the Obama campaign."

...Power's comments were made on Monday before Clinton revived her presidential bid with wins in the big states of Ohio and Texas.

"She is a monster, too -- that is off the record -- she is stooping to anything," Power was quoted by the newspaper as saying of Clinton.

"We f***** up in Ohio," she said. "In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it because she knows Ohio's the only place they can win."

My own personal feelings about the "obsession" of Ohio aside... First lesson: that even if you're a Pulitzer prizewinner (as Ms. Powers happens to be), nothing is ever off the record.

Second lesson: someone at The Scotsman should never be allowed to interview anyone ever again, nor should ever be joined at the bar for even casual conversation.  Even if you're a reporter, if the phrase "off the record" is uttered and you place those contents very deliberately onthe record, your career should be over. Not only because you clearly have the personal honor of slime mold, but because you also don't have enough common sense to realize that someone who is willing to take you into confidence through remarks made off the record is much more likely to give you valuable remarks and other material made on the record due to your established relationship.  Idiot.

On the other hand, when you're in politics, one could argue that you should never make any questionable remarks to anyone ever, on or off the record.  But that's politics for you.