Filed under "Personal"
Softcult - See You In The Dark
Softly raging against the machine. 🤘🤘🤘🤘🤘
- See You In The Dark on Bandcamp, Spotify and Apple Music.
“Why do I like this?”
It’s a good question to ask yourself about anything, and the one I want to answer most when writing about any of my musical fascinations. I’m not interested in making music reviews, though that trap is all too easy to fall into. It’s more interesting to push to the center of that core question, because what’s there is inevitably personal, and—if I’m lucky—revelatory. The challenge is part of the fun; it’s often difficult to pin down or articulate the answer, or it’s embarrassing or uncomfortable. Introspection isn’t easy.
I wrote about Softcult soon after discovering them in 2021, and answered this question to the best of my ability at the time. Yes, the spirit of the 90’s is alive in the music, and for someone of my *cough* age, that’s naturally appealing; on a purely musical level, it’s incredible. Yes, I very much appreciate the focused, anthemic quality of the songs and the way that they seek to take a very specific thought, pull the thread, and weave something greater. And, yes, I really like the overall aesthetic, attitude, and sincerity of this band. It could end there, and that would be fine. Sometimes music doesn’t travel any deeper.
But what about this music? Is there more left unsaid? The passage of time and the band’s continued, steady output has given me repeated opportunities to think about the question, and—yeah—there’s definitely more to say.
Stakes In The River
The river surrounds me.
I waded into its waters long ago, wandering the serpentine current that cuts through the landscape. With each step, the river changes, and becomes something different than it was before. I change with it; I also have a current, and it stubbornly carves its own path, bending and twisting and flowing in shape and intensity. All things move, and nothing remains still. The currents are taking me away, whether I want to go or not.
This Is How I Fight
Ideas don’t need to be new to be powerful. That’s the great thing about art: anyone can express an idea in their own way and give it new life.
Watching Everything Everywhere All At Once was pretty overwhelming. If you’re not familiar, the film follows haggard laundromat operator Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) as she bounces across parallel universes, guided by her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) from “the alphaverse” to stop their daughter Joy/Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu)—also from the alphaverse—from destroying everything by jumping into a giant, nihilistic everything bagel. I know, it’s a lot.
The film is a bonkers, surreal romp designed to navigate complex subjects and pull the viewer into Evelyn’s drinking-from-the-firehose experience of discovery & eventual awakening. There is plenty of subject matter to digest as the film barrels ahead: the importance of even the smallest choices, the struggle for true intimacy, the search for approval, choosing hope over despair, and the self-discovery and unconditional acceptance of others in Evelyn’s redemptive arc, just to name a few. And, yes, that’s all important. It’s especially good that Evelyn learns from her experiences and chooses to atone. That’s the hopeful takeaway for all of us: it’s never too late to wake up and evolve.
Then there’s Waymond.
Dear Robert Smith
I was 16 when I discovered The Cure.
The church dances I felt obligated to attend as a teenager were torturous. Though I am still plenty introverted as an adult, I was positively reclusive as a teen. There were girls there, and I did like music, so maybe I was more enticed than obligated. At any rate, I wanted to enjoy going to these things, but really didn’t. All I felt was a mountain of anxiety, sitting at the back of the darkest half of the gymnasium. Alone, I listened.
The music was usually the same uninspired Top 40 fare every time. Not all bad, but spotty. This night, though, was different. The kids never got to control the equipment, but we could make requests. I’m not sure if it was the DJ’s choices or someone whispering in their ear, but they started playing music I’d never heard before. It sounded sophisticated and exciting and slightly weird, and it really spoke to me. One song in particular came on with the final words “just like heaven”, and it really made an impression on me. The sound of the guitar, the pretty tune, the unusual voice, the painterly lyrics—what poetry was this? Who was this? Above the music, I heard some kids nearby talk about “the cure”. I repeated it to myself so I wouldn’t forget.
The summer of 1997 was a turning point. After wandering down various roads, unsure of what I was supposed to do with my life, I had recently finished all the college I was willing to take. Hopeful that my aptitude for a newfound love of 3D modeling and animation was enough, I had applied for a job with the only gaming company that I knew of in my home state of Texas: id Software, makers of such classics as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake.
I never heard back, but something else happened that summer that changed my life forever.
What Moves You?
A while back, I stumbled upon the film Columbus. It’s mainly a story about the relationship between Casey, a recent high school graduate who feels obligated to continue living at home to help her mother, and Jin, whose aged father—a respected architecture professor—has collapsed into a coma on the eve of a lecture he was scheduled to give in Columbus.
The film watches Jin and Casey’s paths cross in Columbus, and challenge each others’ perceived roadblocks—Jin questioning Casey’s actual need to stay stuck in Columbus instead of going to architecture school, and Casey challenging Jin’s emotionally distant relationship with his father.
Since architecture is part of the connective tissue between these two characters, and Columbus is full of architectural gems, Casey takes Jin to many of her favorite structures throughout the film. One of those is the Irwin Union Bank & Trust. There’s a scene where Casey begins to rattle off a sort of tour guide exposition about the bank, but Jin cuts her off.
fear of the future.
holding it all inside.
pushing others away.
watching others struggle.
comparing yourself to others.
waiting to tell someone you love them.
assuming there’ll always be another sunset.
faith in yourself.
the sun on your face.
lifting up others in need.
time to be alone and to think.
long drives through the country.
It’s been a rough (almost) two years. COVID itself has been disruptive enough, but the ongoing pandemic has caused so many parallel challenges as well—a real ripple effect. Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing.
I don’t know who even reads this blog anymore. For those that do: I appreciate you. I hope what I share is meaningful. If it isn’t, that’s okay. If I’m only writing to myself, that’s good enough. I’m enjoying it again. One of the things that has resulted from this pandemic is the collapse of those remaining walls that have kept me from feeling like I could express myself without censure. I don’t feel like writing thought leadership pieces right now. I feel like writing about more emotional pursuits. In time, maybe I’ll feel swallowed up by something else, and then I’ll write about that.
Pale Waves - My Mind Makes Noises
Content warnings: Mental health, death of a loved one, some strong language.
- My Mind Makes Noises on Spotify and Apple Music
Music is an ever-changing experience. It can be euphoric, heartbreaking, relatable, abstract, and sometimes a bit embarrassing, depending on time and circumstance. At the time of writing, I’ve been experiencing all of these things while listening to Pale Waves’ debut album, 2018’s My Mind Makes Noises, almost exclusively for the past 4 weeks—quickly placing it in a very rare circle of binge-listened albums. As much as I’ve been obsessively listening, I’ve been thinking about why I am listening to it now after honestly trying to ignore it for nearly two years. We’ll get to that in a minute.
2010: The Year in Tweets
Nice. I still remember the password to my blog.
Jon Tan’s year’s-end retrospective was a fun read, as was that of my dotcomrade Travis Isaacs, so I figured I’d give it a shot as well. The problem with following in these two fine gents’ footsteps is that I suck at photography, both the “taking the picture” part and the “recognizing that this would be a good time to take a picture” part.
But one thing I apparently don’t suck at is blathering all over Twitter. A quick review of my tweets from 2010 confirmed that I predictably chirped about pretty much all the important (and sooo many unimportant) events of the year.
So, without further ado: my year in tweets, with commentary.
Time to put this project in a headlock.
January 4, 2010
The year started out with a frantic race to the finish line with our You+Dallas project, the ongoing redesign of Blinksale and at least 2 other incubating projects. I shipped my best stuff in 2010, and it sure feels swell.
The Tablet may be the one thing Apple has done in the last 10 years that has done absolutely nothing to excite me.
January 5, 2010
Heh. And here’s what I tweeted 3 months later:
Got to play with an iPad for a bit this morning. Keyboard is truly awkward, but everything else is pure awesome.
April 5, 2010
Mmmm, tasty crow! My skepticism turned to curiosity as I started seeing some of the real-world applications of the device. Now, after getting an iPad for Christmas this year, it has already taken up near-permanent residence on my coffee table, serving as a stellar substitute for my laptop or iPhone for many activities. It’s a lot of fun, and holds a lot of possibilities. I can’t wait to see how it will evolve.
Making plans for a backyard transformation. http://flic.kr/p/7A2ENM
February 2, 2010
In late 2009, we tore out a massive, ugly (and massively ugly) 20×30-foot deck left in our backyard by previous owners to make way for something less… hillbilly-ish. This year, we succeeded in putting in a smaller but nicer stone patio, flower & gardening boxes, 4 trees and 6 bushes. These days, there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting outside on a warm day, enjoying the sights, smells and sounds. Time and money well spent.
Had a great time at the Bright Corner reunion shindig, Been a while since I'd seen most those guys. sniff good times…
March 7, 2010
Bright Corner is the little company that brought me to the Dallas area almost six years ago, and I credit my co-workers there for most of my subsequent successes. They are not only my friends, but my mentors. It was great to get most of the old crew back together to reflect on the past, discuss the present and get excited about the future.
1 inch of snow? WORST FIRST DAY OF SPRING EVER.
March 21, 2010
Wait for it…
Seven inches of snow on the ground this morning.
March 21, 2010
I’ve lived in Texas almost my entire life. We get the occasional dusting of snow. Sometimes it even sticks for a few hours. But this? This was pretty extraordinary, especially for March. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could live anywhere that it snows on a regular basis, because after a while I was kind of coming unhinged by the sight of snow. Not a fan, as it turns out.
Redesigning a beloved web app. One that I & thousands of others have used for years. The stress. I feel it.
April 12, 2010
By April, the design for the new Blinksale had been chosen and I was working my way through all the various pages. Having incredible respect for the Firewheel/Alamofire crew (who originally built the app), it was a bit unnerving to be putting my fingerprints all over Blinksale.
Steam for Mac may end my use of Boot Camp for gaming.
May 12, 2010
I’d been gaming from Windows via Boot Camp for years, but as great as Boot Camp is, it’s a real inconvenience to have to load up a different OS just for gaming. Though Steam for Mac has its issues (and a limited Mac games catalog), it is still so great to be able to play most of my games on OS X. Look me up. I’ll give you one guess as to what my Steam handle is.
omg omg omg omg rdio
June 5, 2010
I can’t tell you why I never tried a music subscription service before, but for 5 bucks a month, it’s tough to beat Rdio. 2010 was a fantastic year of music for me, and it has much to do with this great music service. I discovered a boatload of both new and old music in what was a sort of mid-year musical renaissance.
Tonight was my third time seeing Imogen Heap perform. It’s still not getting old.
June 10, 2010
I don’t get out to many shows these days, so I choose wisely. You can’t really go wrong with Imogen Heap. Her charming stage banter is only surpassed by the great music. This show was especially great, as she had a full band along for the ride!
New work: You+Dallas.
July 1, 2010
You+Dallas launches! It was a rough and tough road, but ultimately an incredibly rewarding experience. I learned so much about managing complexity, design patterns, working with developers, documentation and much, much more. EPIC PROJECT. What a relief it was to ship it.
The new Blinksale is live.
July 1, 2010
Whew! A month after You+Dallas launches, Blinksale’s redesign rolls out! Clearly, I’ve been busy. Though this redesign was mostly a reskinning of the app, there was a bit of new visual design thrown in. And, a couple weeks later, Blinksale added brand new functionality the the workflow in the form of estimates.
Do you have video content that you’d like to sell? Would you like said selling to be dead-simple? Hit me up; I have a protip for you.
July 26, 2010
Um, did I even sleep this summer? Between our You+Dallas client work, and work on Blinksale, our scrappy little studio had been developing a cool new way to buy & sell videos online. Monetizer, as it is called, was beta-launched at the end of July and has been enjoying a steady stream of signups and tire-kickers every since.
This phone is friggin gorgeous.
July 29, 2010
iPhone 4: best birthday present ever. It may be the finest piece of industrial and software design I’ve ever seen. Even now, I hold it and feel like I truly am living in the future.
Instagram is great! Makes me wish I hadn’t bought Hipstamatic a couple weeks ago.
October 8, 2010
Though there had been other apps with the same or similar functionality, Instagram was the first to craft an experience that felt natural and fun. I had just purchased Hipstamatic and was bemoaning its complexity and rigidity. Instagram was a breath of fresh air, and a great social experience to boot.
Are you a Blinksale customer interested in taking credit card payments on your invoices? firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the beta list.
December 8, 2010
Though only released in private beta at this time, Blinksale gets a huge upgrade feature: Blinkpay. A $10 add-on to Blinksale, Blinkpay will initially allow clients to pay invoices with a credit card. The option to pay with electronic check + other related features are rolling out in the next few months.
This has been a huge undertaking. The feature itself touches many parts of Blinksale, and had to be carefully integrated. Working with payment processors was also a huge challenge. The feature seems fairly simple, but you would not believe the plethora of paperwork and minutiae required to make it work. But that’s the point, isn’t it?
Goodbye, Viewzi: http://www.viewzi.com/ :(
December 28, 2010
Though Viewzi was no longer being developed and had been essentially left to drift on the internet seas almost 2 years ago, the site was still available to those who liked using it. But the time came when it no longer made sense to continue supporting the non-trivial costs of keeping the service online, and we pulled the plug. Viewzi was a great idea, and I’ll always remember the time I worked on it fondly.
It is so quitting time.
December 29, 2010
And so ended my last day of full-time employment at Doublewide Labs/Blinksale. It was a fantastic run, and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of such great opportunities. I will still be involved with design and product development to some extent, but not as my full-time gig. Thusly, I am currently looking for work in the Dallas area (or via telecommute). I’m excited for the possibilities!
Wherein I Shamelessly Pimp My New Employer's Service.
As I post this, I am about to enjoy a 10-minute commute to a brand new job. I have joined the team of energetic and passionate folks at Viewzi…
Why, Yes -- I Am Going to South By Southwest.
Thanks for asking!
As numerous other designy-types have announced, I too announce that I will be attending this year’s famously nerdy SXSWi conference. This will be my third year of attendance, and yet there are many people I have “met” online that I have not met in person.
What I Did On My Summer Vacation.
I went to Oregon.
Yeah, I know. It doesn’t sound like the most exciting place to vacation. And it’s technically not summer anymore. And doesn’t it rain a lot in Oregon? Isn’t it cold? The answers are “usually” and “sometimes.” The attraction of traveling to the Beaver State was admittedly selfish: I was born there, and lived there until I was 11. And, aside from a very brief Amtrak ride through the state in 1991, I’ve never been back. The thought of revisiting some of the places of my childhood memories and experiencing some new ones was an attractive proposition. Gettin’ back to my roots and all that jazz. Thankfully, Jessica was on board with my eclectic choice.
So how did reality stack up to my romanticized memories? Basically, Reality pointed and laughed at Memories and then turned the key in the ignition and ran me over with the Awesome Bus. Oregon is more beautiful than I had ever remembered it to be.
Mountains & Waterfalls.
Our first day was spent driving the Historic Columbia River Highway and the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. Our primary destination that day was Multnomah Falls, but we happened upon numerous other waterfalls along the way. Latourell Falls and Bridal Veil Falls were much more intimate and solitary experiences than the tourist-laden destination that is Mutnomah, but Multnomah was certainly the most spectacular of all the falls. Despite the region’s predisposition for rain, we enjoyed a cool, sunny day. The narrow two-lane Historic Highway sits high above the new highway and was a chock full of vantage points, parks, and lesser waterfalls.
Multnomah Falls was massively high and wonderfully scenic. At the risk of sounding overly cheesy, it looked like water falling out of the sky. After hiking back down, we went into the small museum and were humbled by the scale model of the mountain the Falls run off of; Multnomah Falls, in all its huge cascading glory, is no more than a small trickle dripping off the skirt of a gigantic mountain range.
After a fantastic salmon lunch high on a scenic deck at the Three Rivers Grill in Hood River, we started our drive around Mount Hood. It’s like this: you’re driving down this scenic highway, and it’s real purty. Oooh, look at the lovely trees. La-dee-da. And then BAM. You come around this bend and Mount Hood slides out from behind the trees like a 11,249 foot sno-cone and your jaw drops because it’s just that big. It just towers above everything. Maybe I just geeked out because I now live in a state with zero mountains, but it was a pretty amazing sight.
We also spent 2 days along the Oregon coast between Newport and Florence. When I was a kid, our family had some property outside of Florence that made for a pretty sweet campground. Though I believed I had a fair amount of familiarity with the area, I had to concede, once there, that there was much more that I never knew existed. Like lighthouses. The Oregon coast, in fact, has a lighthouse every 40 miles. We were able to visit the Yaquina Head and Heceta Head lighthouses, both of which offered spectacular views of the coastline. And — for the curious — yes, we did try and wade into the water. After about 10 seconds, we couldn’t feel our toes. I pity the fool who falls into the ocean, because that sucker is cold.
Nevertheless, our sojourn along the coast was sunny, cool and besieged by light rain only a couple times in the early morning hours. Boy, were we lucky.
Eugene, Oregon is where I was born and grew up as a kid, and it was conveniently located right between the coast and our next destination. It was equal parts disappointing and surreal to revisit all the old places I remembered. Much has changed (and not always for the better), but such is the cost of progress, huh? Parks got newer, generic playgrounds, old homes were invaded by college kids, and the coolest pizza parlor in town willingly stripped all the charm and personality out of it till all that was left was a lifeless husk for kids’ birthday parties. Nevertheless, it was fun (if not painful at times) to take a trip down memory lane and remember how things used to be.
We wrapped up our Oregon adventure with a risky outing to Crater Lake. We knew the forecast called for rain, even in the weeks before we left home, but decided to include it in the itinerary anyways. It’s one of the most unique places in the United States, and it seemed foolish to travel to Oregon without seeing Crater Lake.
Well, we did see it. For about 20 minutes. As we ascended the steep slopes, it started to snow. By the time we reached the rim, we had about 10 minutes of visibility before the whole bowl went white. Naturally, I insisted on driving up some winding roads with no guardrails, hoping to catch a break in the snowfall. And we did, for another few minutes, until the snow came back with a vengeance. I thought it was fun and beautiful, but Jessica (more sanely) insisted that we slowly get off the mountain before we ended up taking a fiery, Michael Bay-esque spill off the road.
It’s good to be home.
Friends, home-cooked food a familiar bed are all great things to come back to, but I’d be lying if I said the thought of quitting my job and becoming a forest ranger didn’t cross my mind at least once.
Or a couple dozen times.
Surely you saw this coming.
As I sit here drinking a Coke for lunch, it seems only appropriate to report my failure to quit Coke cold-turkey. I made a sterling effort, if I do say so myself, but in the end I suppose I have less willpower than I thought. Or the issue became less important to me as time marched onward. Either way, I made it a respectable 4(-ish) months avoiding not only Coke, but soft drinks of any kind. During that time, I felt more energized and didn’t suffer from post-lunch drowsiness (well, not as frequently; there’s only so much one can do to defend against an enchilada plate).
But all is not lost. I do still want to cut out soft drinks altogether, but perhaps at a more judicious pace. I liked the way I felt without all that carbonation, caffeine and sugar tumbling between my platelets, and want to give it another go.
So that’s my confession, in the spirit of Bold Moves, transparency and all that jazz. Let the scorning begin.
It’s been about a week since I last had a drink of Coke (or any carbonated beverage for that matter). I’m almost embarrassed to admit how hard it’s been. For reasons that can only be attributed to addiction, I’ve really been jonesing for that sweet carbonated rush. Curse you, Coke.
My parents never let me drink soda when I was a kid, and I often wonder if that contributed to my avid adoption of carbonated beverages later in life. It doesn’t help that many restaurants still don’t offer very many non-carbonated, non-caffeinated options. Almost all restaurants offer water, which is all good and fine, but it’s a dice roll — at least here in Plano — as to whether that water will be filtered or “au natural” (aka “it tastes like a dirty lake” — which, unsurprisingly, is where our local water comes from). Some places offer bottled water, which is nice but annoyingly more expensive than soft drinks (consider the cost of a second bottle of water versus free refills for soda). Not that I’m a big penny-pincher, but it does ruffle my feathers.
Should there be any question as to why I’m quitting soda, and Coke specifically, I believe this
appetizing link (debunked) should paint the picture with HD clarity. Even if all of these creative applications of Coke apply only to the concetrated syrup, it’s still pretty disgusting. And I’m sure Coke is not the only soft drink that can eat a steak in a matter of days, thus influencing my decision to cut out all of Coke’s cousins and half-siblings as well.
So this is goodbye, Coke. You’re addictive, but I’m determined. If I ever see you on the street, please don’t take it personally when I punch you in the throat and run away. It’s how I cope.
I’ve been tangentially associated with a couple of books recently, so I thought I’d toss out some plugs while I’m busy not writing here. ;)
The Art & Science of CSS
Several months ago, I was offered the chance to serve as technical reviewer for this book alongside the
ever twitter-present Dan Rubin. It was a great experience, and hopefully the authors don’t hate me too much for all my niggling and feedback. It shaped up to be a great book, so check it out if you already haven’t done so.
Authored by some true Textpattern heavyweights (Kevin Potts, Robert Sable, Nathan Smith, Mary Fredborg & Cody Lindley), Textpattern Solutions appears to be quite the comprehensive guide to my fave CMS. All I really know about this book is that:
- These authors are smart cookies, so the book must be as well.
- The book is thick.
- It’s not in color, which is a good thing as innocent readers may have been blinded by the deluge of pink somewhere in Chapter 1:
That’s pretty cool. Thanks for the inclusion, Nathan! If you’re at all interested in learning (or learning more) about Textpattern, do take a look at this book.
Last Tuesday was already a bit of a stressful day, and coming home to an apartment parking garage full of police cars and crime scene tape did little to help my mood. I like to think I live in a pretty safe and sane part of town, but the story that hit the papers the next day, describing the events that occurred 3 floors below where I live, was both bizarre and unsettling:
A naked woman dived in front of a moving car near downtown Plano on Tuesday night before stabbing a passenger who got out of the car to help her, police said.
Ms. Richardson, 28, was riding with two friends about 7:15 p.m. to an open mike poetry reading […]
Before they arrived, Ms. Richardson jumped out of the car, ran into a parking garage on Avenue K and took off her clothes.
“Then she runs back out into the street and swan dives in front of a car,” Detective Minton said. “The car was able to stop before it hit her but was rear-ended.”
The husband and wife in the car that stopped got out to check on Ms. Richardson, but she ran back into the garage, Detective Minton said. The wife, who was not identified by police, followed her.
“The [wife] asks her if there’s anything she can do. And the [suspect] tells her, ‘You can help me with this’ and reaches into her pants on the ground and pulls out a knife. She stabbed her multiple times in the upper torso,” Detective Minton said.
Good grief, what kind of insane people drive through your peaceful neighborhood on a daily basis? Incredible.
We were already planning to move in a few months, but this seals the deal.
Where Was I?
I don’t want to hear a peep from anyone about how “uncool” memes are. It’s a slow news day and I’m a sellout. Besides, this meme is only mildly narcissistic, and you know how much designers like to talk about themselves. Don’t front, y’all. I won’t be passing this meme along in typical virus fashion; instead, all of you dear readers are free to bust out the nostaligia and perpetuate it if you so choose.
It’s a meme thing. Pretend to be interested in me and we’ll get through this together.
A Lesson in Fire Safety.
Have you even heard a knock on your door and opened it, only to be greeted by a curtain of smoke and a stranger asking you if you know where a fire extinguisher is?
That’s what happened this afternoon…
I get plenty of unusual search strings in my logs. Thanks to the Beck lyric I had featured in my title bar a few weeks back, some lucky soul’s Google search for “crouton” turned up my site in his results. Haha! Brilliant! And it’s good to know that a search for “revolting entertainment” on Google.fi ranks me at #2. Hey, if it’s not revolting, it’s not good enough for me.
There are relatively few purchases one makes in life where congratulations are received. I got many congratulations upon buying my first new car. I imagine I’ll get pats on the back and kudos all around on the day I finally buy a house. But it takes a special kind of product to invoke the congratulations of friends and strangers when it is really not that much bigger than a deck of cards.
At long last, The Christensen Wagon Train has pulled into Plano, Texas. It was a 7-hour drive beset by torrential rain, plenty of rain-induced traffic jams and a discomfort that can only be experience by driving a U-Haul truck 300 miles. To say that we are happy to finally be here would be an understatement.
Plano is not at all the Desolate Land of Tumbleweeds I had feared it would be upon my first visit. During my second visit to Plano with Jessica, we were fortunate enough to find many beautiful and engaging places throughout the city, not the least of which is our new neighborhood.
Downtown Plano is a charming area. 15th Street is the primary road into downtown, playing host to a number of antique shops, an art gallery, the DART rail station, and Haggard Park. Our building sits only a block away from all these things and is host to its own growing collection of restaurants and salons. We are enjoying our apartment, which sits above a Zen-like courtyard filled with bamboo, small fountains, and hammocks.
We are still getting settled in, unpacking, and waiting for those shysters at SBC to send us our DSL setup kit. As soon as the dust settles, I hope to become a bit more verbose and consistent when it comes to site content.
Check out my Flickr account for more photos of Plano and Dallas.
The Future Looks Bright.
The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of serious life-changing decisions, professional reflection and frequent road-tripping. I’ve had to make some tough choices and weigh a lot of variables. I’ve been tired, excited, tired again, and then more excited. So it is with a relieving sense of finality that I announce to friends, weblog readership, and extended family my decision to accept a position at Bright Corner as a Visual Web Designer / Interface Designer.
I regard with tremendous gratitude my time with G2E Services. I have learned much from working with both talented and friendly people. We have created some truly awesome work. I am grateful that we can part ways amicably.
Bright Corner is located in Plano, Texas, so I will be leaving San Antonio — the city I have called home for the past 15 years. Moving away from San Antonio was perhaps one of the most difficult parts of this decision because this city has been such a major part of my life. But discomfort and risk are all part of the growing process, and my opportunities to grow and contribute as part of the Bright Corner team far exceed any cause for homesickness. After a number of interviews, face-to-face contact, and casual visits with the Bright Corner folks, my wife and I are confident that we are making a smart choice.
During our visit to Plano last weekend, Jessica and I got to meet fellow Plano resident Abel Rios and his fiancee, Sandra. We are also just miles down the road from Josh Dura and any number of Dallas-area designers I’ve filed away in my mind like Eris and Chuck. We also found an incredibly cool apartment property called the Eastside Village. It is a charming development in downtown Plano featuring large palazzo-style buildings with retail shops inhabiting the first floors. Add to that our building’s 1.5-block proximity to the DART light rail (pefect for Jessica’s school commute), and we knew we had a winner. It is a wonderful neighborhood full of parks, restaurants and people. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble calling it our home.
The next several weeks will be busy as we prepare and execute our move. We are excited, and I look forward to the work that lies ahead!
When it rains, it pours — right? That’s how the saying goes, at least. For all that’s been happening in my life over the past few weeks, there is really very little I can say right now. Ain’t that a peach? Here’s what I can tell you:
- I will be participating in the CSS Reboot, though I loathe the word “reboot.” Don’t get me started. I initially decided that I would not participate because a) I am thoroughly preoccupied with life’s little surprises and am having a hard time finding time for this website, and b) this design has been good to me, sending droves of folks here in search of the Three Column Layout. Also, I had no idea what to do as a redesign. That being said, I found time this weekend to rough up an idea that I like; in time, it will become a glorious new chapter in… nevermind. It will just be a welcome change.
- Remember that project I wrote about a while back? The one where I hinted at working with some pretty cool designers? Well, the silence is about to be broken. But not yet. Look for a writeup, possibly, at the end of this week. I love it when a plan comes together.
Sadly, that’s all I have to report. Let’s meet back here in a few days, shall we?
Are you feeling neglected, my precious webpage? There, there now; here’s some 11px Lucida Grande goodness. Do you feel loved again?
Not only has life been busy lately, but I’ve been taking some time away from the internet when I’m not at work. I’ve just felt oversaturated. So what have I been up to lately?
Textpattern, How I Love Thee.
I know I just said “I’ve been taking some time away from the internet,” but I’m not dead. Geez. Despite the learning curve I experienced at the outset, I’ve been “coming into my own” in my understanding of TXP. I’ve been contributing material to TextBook, an effort at centralizing documentation, and helping out here and there on the Support Forums. And, obviously, I’ve been spouting all kinds of Textpattern nerdery all over this website.
A Puzzling Development.
You know, I haven’t put together a puzzle in well over 10 years. My wife’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and my parents gave Jessica a puzzle — among other things. Yesterday I came home, way past my internet saturation level, and suddenly found myself feeling an unnatural compulsion to lay 1,000 jigsaw pieces out on our dining room table and make them fit together. Weird? You bet. Soothing? Amazingly so. More puzzling will go down tonight.
At long last, House of Flying Daggers moseyed its way into this lazy town. Unlike Zhang Yimou’s last film, Hero, House of Flying Daggers features looser dialogue, sanguinous fight scenes and a twisted love story. Like Hero, it is beautifully staged and directed.
Movin’ On Up.
True to our nomadic traditions, our little design company is moving (again). We have acquired a fine office space in one of San Antonio’s more historic downtown districts. Due to delays in repair work on the old structure, however, we cannot move in yet. More juicy details as they become available.
Well, that’s the deal, the skinny, and the low-down. Keep on reaching for the stars.
It’s a sad day at the Christensen home.
Over Thanksgiving, our pet rat Butters had what we suspect was a mild stroke. For a while it looked pretty bad, but she actually came through reasonably well. Though she had lost some mobility, her appetite steadily increased and she seemed to be back in the swing of things.
Sunday morning we awoke to find her wheezing, breathing heavily and refusing to eat. In addition, the symptoms that accompanied her suspected stroke returned, and she has had difficulty moving about and staying balanced.
These conditions have forced Jessica and I to make a decision that no pet owner ever wants to make — do we euthanize?
After much thought, we have decided to euthanize. Butters’ previous spark for life is gone and, while I morally oppose human euthanization, this decision seems to be the only humane thing we can do. Having once watched a beloved pet whither away over a prolonged amout of time, I simply don’t think I could allow that to take place again. It is a difficult choice to make.
But Butters has lived a long and joyful life. At a ripe old age of 3 years, she has well fulfilled the average lifespan for a domesticated rat. Since I saved her and her sister from the horrible fate of becoming snake food almost 3 years ago, she has been a gentle companion, little buddy and kind animal. We will miss her.
Even though I have had several pet rats since I was a nine year old kid, it never gets any easier to lose one. A rat may be an unusual pet, but it is a beautiful animal with a unique personality just like any other creature.
Butters’ sister China passed away almost a year and a half ago. We’d like to think that there’s a big Habitrail in the sky, and that China is there waiting for her sister.
As has been our family’s tradition for as long as I can remember, Butters will be buried this evening alongside her sister in a special spot in my parent’s backyard.
Thank you for indulging me in this less than usual entry. No word yet as to whether or not there will be new pets in the near future.
I am happy to report that another lovely Christmas was had by all at the Christensen bungalow this year, full of gifting, eating, movie- viewing and even more eating.
Jessica and I surprised each other this year by exchanging gifts that we never thought the other would willingly give. For my part, I gave Jessica the Pride and Prejudice DVD boxed set. It is a film that I know she enjoys immensely. She’s been hinting at it for months, but never thought I’d get her because of my well-publicized dislike of the genre. But I knew she would love it, and that’s really the whole point of giving on Christmas. Likewise, Jessica gave me an unexpected gift: the Call of Duty expansion pack, United Offensive. My zeal for video games has, in the past, taken away time that Jessica would have liked to spend with me. But she knew I would love the game, and that’s the whole point of giving. And I promise to go easy on the all-day gaming marathons in the future.
And so it was that Christmas morning became a mishmash of proper English voices navigating the ins and outs of Victorian love in the living room and the sound of grunts shouting over the din of machine gun and mortar fire in the bedroom. Heaven.
I only got through the first two missions in the short time I got to play on Christmas morning — even fighting on the “Greenhorn” difficulty level (go ahead, laugh). It’s a lot of fun though; the new missions are very immersive and challenging. Sometimes it’s hard to get your bearings, which is both disorienting and quite realistic. The multiplayer games are improved as well, with new sound effects, weaponry and gametypes.
Mom & Dad came over later in the afternoon for Jessica’s delicious turkey dinner with all the fixins and after-dinner entertainment a la The Fugitive (for the men) and Pride and Prejudice, Pt. 2 (for the ladies). Jessica and I topped off the night with a late viewing of Back to the Future, which brought back some hilarious memories of the 80’s for me.
So what did Santa bring you this year?
The Monday Edition.
Man, I had a busy weekend. Between early Christmas shopping, Thanksgiving food shopping, and social engagements, I feel like I need another two days to relax before I go back to work.
Too late. I’m already here…
Went to see National Treasure over the weekend. It was a toss-up between that or the Spongebob Squarepants movie. Turns out I made a good decision; National Treasure is a mostly clever, lightly historical, likeable, Indiana Jones-ish scavenger hunt. I typically find Nicholas Cage to be pretty annoying, but this role fit him well. Not a groundbreaking, mind-blowing movie, but entertaining none the less.
I missed most of Saturday Night Live, due to the aforementioned weekend’s activities, but I did manage to catch the last 30 minutes. SNL has been slipping into stupidity over the past 20 years, and sometimes I wonder why I even bother watching anymore. The show has been lucky enough to have had some really funny actors during that time, but, sadly, the material has been mostly tired and lackluster.
But who cares about dumb comedy sketches when U2 is on? The revered boys from Dublin were kind enough to show America what “live” music is supposed to sound like. You know — “live” — as in, not prerecorded. I was already interested in the new album because of it’s title; it is perhaps one of the greatest titles ever conceived by man: How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. But it seemed that Saturday night, on live television, it would be more appropriate to say that U2 was detonating an atomic bomb. I’ve never been a huge U2 fan; in fact, I don’t own any U2 songs. But after watching them perform that night, I can’t wait to get my hands on the music. Not only did the songs sound great, but Bono’s performance (which I once thought was narcissistic, swaggering, ridiculously self-important rockstar posturing) came across as genuinely energetic and real. U2 is probably the best thing to happen to that rinky-dink comedy show in years. Lorne Michaels should be thanking his lucky stars. Then he needs to fire his writing staff (except Tina Fey; her comedy is redonkulous).
Say Hello To Good Times.
Only 3 more days, folks.
I always believed in futures. I hope for better in November. I try the same losing lucky numbers. It could be a cold night for a lifetime. Hey now… you can’t keep saying endlessly, my darling, "How long until this effects me?" Say hello to good times. Trade up for the fast ride. We close our eyes while the nickel and dime take the streets completely.
The past is told by those who win. What matters is what hasn’t been. We’re wide awake and we’re thinking. Believe your voice can mean something.
Old Dog, New Tricks.
Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I turned 32.
Birthdays have lost their sizzle, to be sure. I mean, where’s the celebration in turning 32? Let me tell you about some of the great things in life that make me happy to be a thirtysomething.
- My Wife. There came a point in life where I simply accepted my singular existence as par for the course (naturally, this epiphany struck me while in my twentysomethings). Oh, the angst. It was only when I became a thirtysomething that my chance of a lifetime fell into my lap. Entering the third decade of my life imbued me with a different sense of self-worth and hope that, even through the tough times, managed to live on when before it would have crumbled. And life with my wife has made getting older a better cup of tea, because we do it together. I love you, sweetie.
- My Obliviousness. I’m not sure if that’s a real word; if it’s not, we’ll just chalk it up to the effects of aging on the mind. While watching TV recently, I saw an ad for NOW! That’s What I Call Music, Volume 16. Naturally, the music being advertised was awful and made me want to jam sharpened pencils into my eardrums. But that’s not what struck me. As I listened to the music drain the life out of my soul, it occured to me that I had absolutely no idea who most of these “performers” were and recognized only one song. Oh, the joy! Swearing off radio and MTV has been the best thing to happen to my musical life. The background noise I used to willingly subject myself to is gone, gone, gone. It’s so cool to not know what’s supposed to be cool, and such a blissful state can only be achieved with age.
- My Job. As I sit here, in front of my 18” Apple display, I realize that my job is awesome. I know my boss sometimes reads my blog, so let me clarify: this is not a feeble attempt at sucking up. The latter portion of my twenties, the years after graduation from college, were spent in a fruitless quest for a job that allowed me to not only do what I love, but grow as a professional. Sadly, every fleeting chance I had at working in the San Antonio creative market left a bad taste in my mouth. My co-workers and bosses were good people, to be sure, but it seemed like there was always something that got in the way of progression. As a thirtysomething — and only a thirtysomething — I have found a place where the work environment is (mostly) what I always thought it should be. Not perfect, but progressive.
So that’s my shpeel. I look forward to a quiet celebration tonight with my wife, my mom and my dad. Mmmmmm… cake.
In the New Tricks department, things are going swimmingly. I’m tearing through Zeldman’s book once again because I have so, so, so much to learn. I am redesigning my website to be sweet to all browsers and non-traditional Internet devices. Oh, the joy and pain of XHTML and CSS layout! So far the results are smashing, with only one inexplicable bug in Mozilla/PC (pretty weird, because NS6/PC loves the same code). You can sheck out the progress anytime. The layout works great in the latest versions of Opera/PC, IE/PC & Mac, and Netscape/PC & Mac but has problems with some vertical whitespace at the top margin in the latest versions of Safari and Mozilla/PC & Mac. Any tips would be helpful, and deserving of a cyber-“high five.”
Till next time, netizens.