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March 30, 2005

Nutloaf!

I had lunch in the hospital cafeteria today; it was meatloaf day. The hospital's meatloaf is OK, not great, but edible.

But there was something else on the menu that was far more sinister.

Zesty Vegetarian Nutloaf.

Apparently, the geniuses in the hospital food services department came up with this one. How do I describe it? Imagine a nut bread, only satanic. It looked wrong, like an abomination. Sadly, I didn't think to bring my camera to lunch (honestly, I never bring my camera to lunch). I tried looking for a recipe for it on Google and came up empty, so this may be unique in human culinary history.

There's this long-standing trend in vegetarian cuisine to make meatless versions of meat-filled favorites that are, to channel Monty Python, "more like meat than meat." Tofukey is one example, a flavorless mass of protein that is supposed to remind one of turkey, only it doesn't look, feel, or taste like bird meat. I don't get it at all. Is it supposed to make vegetarians feel like they're not excluded from the pleasures of turkey? Because it's not pleasurable, and it's a horrible imitation of a bird. I think the food services people were trying to make non-carnivores feel included, but it seems more insulting than inclusive.

And what's up with "zesty?" They toss that word in front of foods that have no flavor to make people feel better about eating it. But, you know, dumping a bottle of Tabasco on a piece of stryofoam and calling it "zesty" doesn't suddenly make it edible.

"Zesty" is just a euphemism for "flavorless." Or "bad." Or "trust us, you'll regret ever being involved with it."

Guy #1: Where did you go last week?
Guy #2: I was in a Mexican prison. Got picked up for hiring a prostitute.
Guy #1: Oh. How was jail?
Guy #2: ZESTY!

Sadly, the hospital will probably never offer nutloaf ever again. I wish they did, so I can get a picture of the abomination.

Posted by dylan at 11:41 PM | Comments (2)

March 28, 2005

Easter: A Comparison

Easter 2004:
Annabel, Easter (April 11) 2004

Easter 2005:
Annabel, Easter (March 27) 2005

They really do grow up fast. In Annabel's case, more like a weed.

Posted by dylan at 11:33 PM

Low-Grade Depression

Admittedly, I haven't been blogging much at all lately. I realized today it's because I'm in a low-grade depression.

I get home, play with Annabel, off a half-hundred bad guys in Age of Mythology, read reams of e-mail and web pages, then go to bed. Somewhere in all that I should be writing the three essays floating around in my head, completing the first round of site redesign, working on the presentations and seminars I may be giving this year at home and work, and figuring out a business plan for the little spare-time web design company I'm planning on starting this year. But, it's not happening. What hit me today was that I don't care if this stuff gets done, and apathy is a pretty consistent sign of depression in me. I have my own Saffir-Simpson scale for depressions, and this one barely slips over the Category 1 bar. Still, it's annoying, and it's really making my ADD flare up.

In other news, I might -- might -- have the initial redesign up this week. OK, it's not a redesign as much as a rethink. But you'll understand when you see it.

My father-in-law has small cell lung cancer. They seem optimistic that he can beat it with chemo, but it sounds like the odds are about 50/50 (well, they always are -- you beat cancer or it beats you).

I'm really, really tired of all-Schiavo-all-the-time. I am one of those who believes that when in doubt err on the side of life (you can thank my Catholic upbringing for that), but I'm starting to wonder which is really better, being the star attraction of this family circus of the damned and exploited by all sides like some child prostitute in Bangkok, or a slow, agonizing death by starvation and dehydration. She deserves better than having Randall Terry waving the banner of her cause.

And while we're on that subject, I am frikkin' tired of the endless comparisons between this case and the Nazis. "Oh, it's historically significant," those who hoist the Hitler bloody shirt say. Really? Is the state ordering the execution of the sick and infirm? In this case, no. The worst you can say is that the state is complicit in the killing, thanks to a combination of laws that allow for living wills, the sanctity of marriage, and the right of a spouse to have decision-making power over a incapacitated husband or wife. Last I looked, the Nazi government wasn't exactly passing laws to give spouses the right to dump their Jewish husbands and wives in Auschwitz -- and leaving that power up to the spouse to exercise or not.

I've taken to calling the Nazi bloody shirt "puppy blood." At some point a few weeks ago I said something to the effect of "You know, the Nazis drank puppy blood, and that is reason enough." What that meant was that any logical fallacy involving the Nazis invoked in an argument is unquestioned, even if it's readily apparent that the statement is by prima facie evidence wholly false. So, if I say "stem cells are akin to Auschwitz," there are those who, reading the Nazi overtones of eugenics, nod their heads in agreement, even if stem cells have nothing at all to do with the horrors of Auschwitz. Add to it the "nuclear bomb" aspects of invoking the Nazis in any argument (see also Godwin's Law) and you end up with what's basically a bucket of puppy blood thrown over any argument. It, in effect, destroys any attempt to actually discuss the argument because it obfuscates the true issues under an emotional, radioactive mess.

On with life. Maybe more in a week....

Posted by dylan at 04:25 PM | Comments (2)

March 22, 2005

Turn Towards Home

My father-in-law has been diagnosed with lung cancer. It's the second time he's had it; the first time he solidly beat it, but this time it's more uncertain. We'll all know better once the oncologist can determine whether it's small-cell or not. You don't want small-cell, because small cancer cells travel through the body easily, and that can quickly undermine any treatment plan you have.

He is 75, though. Fighting cancer at 75 is different from fighting it at 65, or 45, or 25. I'm not counting him out in the least -- he's overcome two forms of cancer and a major heart attack, and probably should be dead by now. And 75 year olds overcome cancer, even lung cancer these days. Still, this is a challenge.

He's always had a good attitude about things. He once told me something like "God will take me when He needs me, but in the meantime I'm going to enjoy the time I have."

Annabel will likely never know either of her grandfathers. I'm lucky I knew mine, I guess, even if my maternal grandfather died when I was 3 1/2 and my other grandfather wasn't around all that often, not until he married for the fourth (fifth? sixth?) time and moved back to Oklahoma. He died just before I turned 15.

Posted by dylan at 12:20 AM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2005

Competition

It hit me just now: If I am interested in another job in my field, chances are someone else I know will apply for it, too. I know a lot of web people, and web job openings are few in post-bubble Seattle.

I've never worked at Microsoft. That's a very rare thing for a techie in this town. Even the biggest Linux/Apple fundamentalists have an orange card hidden in their past.

Posted by dylan at 12:11 AM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2005

You Dropped a Bomb on Me

I bought the new laptop about a month ago on a visit to a consumer electronics store. While fighting up commissioned sales people so that I could actually make a decision about what we really need, Annabel and I examined one particular laptop. There was a corpulent kid of the 16-24 age range next to us.

"DUDE!"

I turned to look at him. He's holding up the mouse that's attached to the laptop in front of him. It was very small, like it came from a litter of days-old computer mice.

"I gotta get me one of these!" he said to me, as if I should share in his joy of his discovery. I nodded all Seattle, polite and yet cool.

Then he said something that is still rattling around my head weeks after I heard him say it.

"THIS IS TOTALLY DA BOMB!"

The first time I heard "da bomb" as a synonym for "excellent" was 1995. I was tutoring an African-American kid in the Rainier Valley. I think it was the third thing out of his mouth first time I met him. No one in Boulder ever used "da bomb" to describe anything but thermonuclear weapons. (This is because Boulder has a black population numbered in the ones.) After I heard this kid say "da bomb," it seemed like everyone was using it as an adjectival phrase. In fact, one could argue that its time as a popular figure of speech had long passed; it now has the coolness of a K Car.

And that's why it's still rattling around in my brain. Was this mouse-holding kid trying to fit in with a figure-of-speech from the pre-Monica, pre-blog, pre-Britney era? Did he even know that it was cool to drop that phrase into polite conversation back ten years ago, not now? Is it that African-American language takes that long to percolate into Caucasian-American phraseology?

I didn't know what to say to him. "'Da bomb' is so '95, dude" was too impolite. I stayed with my Seattle insularity. "Yes."

He dropped in another "da bomb" as one of the 14,000 commissioned proselytizers to help him find his very own micelet salvation. I stood there and watched him waddle off. 16? 17? 18? That would make him 6, 7, 8 in 1995. The kid I tutored was 10 in 1995, and he lived in a different universe from this mouse-lover. Yet, they may well have lived less than a mile apart. Seattle is like that -- the poor are just a few streets over from the rich.

One of the sales evangelists alighted next to me and handed me his business card as if I needed to know the Four Computing Laws. I gave it to Annabel. She chewed it to bits. He got the message.

Posted by dylan at 11:10 PM | Comments (2)

March 06, 2005

This week's detritus

I've been reading Web Standards Solutions by Dan Cederholm. I've been in search of "the one book on CSS you can recommend to someone to a CSS neophyte" for a while now, since I deal with a number of web designers who don't have a good grasp of HTML and CSS standards. Lately, the "reading assignment" has been Jeffrey Zeldman's Designing With Web Standards, but the more I read Cederholm's book the more I like his approach vis-a-vis Zeldman. Zeldman takes 20 pages to explain the reasoning behind using list tags for lists in well-formed code; Cederholm needs five. Cederholm's writing is sparse, but explains more in fewer words than Zeldman. The gurus and oracles of CSS (Zeldman, Eric Meyer, Dave Shea) have all written fantastic books over the years, but Web Standards Solutions seems like the book I should be handing these 20 year old novice designers.

Speaking of... I'm working on a longer post, a cheatsheet of everything one should know about CSS. Maybe that will bubble to the surface one of these years.

And oh, I guess I should share the site I designed for a writer friend of Susan's.

I never talk about work around here. Want to know why? Google me. One of these days one of my coworkers is going to discover this site, and I'll hear about it. So, I make it a policy to never discuss work. (OK, maybe a few years ago I did mention a couple of things, but I haven't since then.) This is sad, because there is something that happened on Friday afternoon that I would really, really love to discuss, since it would garner a knowing nod from Ben (aka One Of The Six Readers O' This Site That I Am Not Related To In Some Ways By Sexual Intercourse).

I think the digital camera is showing signs of dying -- the imager is starting to produce pictures that look like they're from a bad convenience store video camera. Just wish I had the money for a Digital Rebel. Just wish I had money for any camera, period.

Posted by dylan at 09:18 PM | Comments (4)

Wake Up Screaming

This past week, Annabel has been waking up randomly in the night screaming to high heaven. No amount of consolation could stop her, and we ended up taking hours rocking her back to sleep.

I talked to the doctor after night three of this, and she told me it's night terrors, which are surprisingly common in young children (although a bit usual in an 11 month old). Turns it it has to do with how an immature CNS handles deep, non-REM sleep -- sometimes, the kids just act out through screaming and flailing, yet are fully asleep and have no recollection of it in the morning.

The best prevention is to make sure Annabel gets enough sleep during the day; tired babies are more susceptible than well-rested ones. So, she now gets two long naps in the day. So far, it's working. We're crossing our fingers she can move through this phase, because her screams are downright blood-curdling, and I'm afraid the cops are going to come knocking at our door one night out of suspicion we're bludgeoning cats to death for our Satanic rituals.

Posted by dylan at 08:17 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2005

Walking, Trackbacks, Pictures

Thanks to the glories of Seattle traffic, I missed the bus into campus this morning and had to drive. Normally, this isn't a big deal, but because I had a class this morning at omigod:30 I was hoping to get the bus, because this class was being held in a building a block off the bus route, while the place I can legally park my car is a 20 minute walk. Uphill. With 20 lbs. of work-crap as a penalty. Guess it's good for my diet and all, but my legs still hurt, and tomorrow I must walk, because I have to drive in (since I'm going to the higher ed web dinner
after work). I am seriously not in shape.

If you haven't noticed, I've delisted Trackbacks from the site. There is still a trackback URL, and the spammers have rediscovered it (thanks RDF!), but at least it's taken some of the oomph out of the Trackback spam storm I've been suffering from of late.

And to the delight of certain people out there, I've updated Annabel's site with new photos.

Did I mention that my calves ache? Ow.

Posted by dylan at 11:17 PM | Comments (1)