§ Wouldn't Mr. Bau be proud. But then again, what the hell do I know? I've just wanted to say that for a long time. Tables are not evil. CSS can be used with them, though it can be a painful process. And we don't need not steenking spacer GIFs when 1px text does just fine. Another pointless goal reached. Let the festivities begin. I'm a bit tired of using other people's tools and being constrained by their sometimes arbitrary limitations, so it's all done by hand for the moment. I'm so bored. I've been huddled up in the house, leaving only for dancing, food and occasional runs to the book store. On and off, working on various things:

  • Some images that will probably never be finished or see the light of day
  • A simple site for Simon's musical output because we were both tired of looking at the previous ugly thing
  • Watching cartoons
  • Searching the house in the middle of the night for PK's lighter or wallet or keys or rings, so that he'll find them – on his desk – in the morning
¶ All in all, boring. So in these situations, I usually end up giving myself little missions like coming up with a layout that's carried by nothing but its content. And yes, I just couldn't be bothered to come up with something graphical again. So here we are. Typography and nothing else. Coincidence? Yes. ¶ Pages and pages of tombstone text. In actuality, the whole idea started out as an attempt to represent certain aspects of memory, but that whole thing got perverted in the name of design decisions, and limitations, to the degree that it's not really worth discussing anymore, so of course, the stylesheet isn't all that it should be. There was also something about meaning for it to be a pain in the ass to read at times. ¶ Aspects of all of that have remained, and some of the others may return, but in the end, this is a completely different beast. One that isn't going to show all of its tricks for a little while, besides the fact that details may change according to whim. But I think it's done. For now.

§ Parking in Chicago always reminds me of how much I never wanted my damn car in the first place. Parking at three in the morning, flying high on several Red Bulls and hours of dancing only complicates things. I really want out of the car, everything's kind of brighter than usual, and there are cartoons coming on for me to watch, damnit. So of course this is one of those nights when there are three times as many cars as normal, and they are all parked like assholes, with juuuust less than a car-length between them. ¶ I finally find a spot three blocks down and one block over from the house, and just as I'm reaching the corner of my block, I see a woman in some import mini sub-compact smoothly swinging into a miniscule spot I had passed up earlier. As I walk by and she heads for her house, I stare at the back of her head, trying to make it explode. Bitch.

§ Funny story. I'm laughing already. No really. The other night, I ended up parking in the very same spot(then larger) that the aforementioned bitch parked in. Rare for me to find parking so close to the house that late, so I was quite pleased. Then last night, as PK and I were getting ready to go out, I remembered I had to move the car because the street sweepers were coming through this morning. ¶ Sometimes, a situation is so wrong, that it just doesn't register properly right away. This is what happened when I got to the car and saw pieces of my dashboard in the seat. Rather than, “Shit, somebody stole my CD player!” my thoughts were a little more like, “What the hell are those doing there? That's not where they belong.” At least now I can stop thinking about replacing the speakers that got trashed by water when a tree smashed my back window in FtL. I'm practical-minded like that. I don't remember incurring any karmic debt recently, but it seems that my car pissed somebody off at some point. Oddly, there wasn't that dramatic sense of "being violated" or anger. Just a sense of general irritation. I hate driving. Now I can't even listen to music while I'm doing it. The car's now two blocks away, I don't feel like walking over there right now, and I'm sitting here trying to figure out if there was a CD still in the player, which one it was, and whether it was rare. ¶ That would piss me off.


§ At Rednodive, which smelled of moldy carpeting:
—Are those sticks really holding up your hair?
—Well, they're helping.
She starts to walk away, her conversation-starter an obvious failure; maybe I should've said I hate Pigface. Damnit, she turns around.
—Hey, I don't mean to offend you, but do you know anybody who wants some coke?
¶ And I was free once again to glower and wonder why I bother talking to strangers. I sometimes wonder why I bother to answer strangers' annoying questions so politely. As much as I talk about someday refusing to answer questions about my piercings because I'm just so damn tired of it at this point, I never go through with it. ¶ The problem with the anti-social argument, however, is that if I never spoke to people, I would:

  1. Actually be as aloof as people seem to think I am at first sight,
  2. Never meet the few interesting people there are in the word, and
  3. Consequently be even more bored than I usually am.
¶ And that would be sad, wouldn't it?

§ As a result of my continued politeness, I've actually met several cool people recently, among them, the very nice Atalee. I've always had a weakness for a girl with a shaved head. If she listens to loud music and can actually dance, even better. Atalee, will you marry me? ¶ Anyway, she was at the club about a month or so ago, hawking tickets for a performance by her dance company, Breakbone, and I was curious, so approached. Got tickets(and some candy!) that night, went two ago, and loved it. One of the few times I've seen someone use the music of Einstürzende Neubauten and various other industrial and hardcore bands in a way that made sense and showed an understanding of the feeling of and what was going on in the music. Very nice in light of the recent trend towards using it for every crapass horror or action movie, with no real context. It's become as cliché as the swelling violins and panning shot to the fireplace during the requisite sex scene. But I digress. ¶ The dance itself is as violent as the company name suggests, but at times breaks into more classical, traditionally "pretty" movement, with video bombardment going on in the background the whole time. Good to see someone not afraid to mix ugly with beautiful. PK's summation: “That was like watching cable with all the channels on at once.” but in a good way. Or something. Good enough for me. Too bad the run wasn't longer.

§ Seeing someone actually living their art always induces a bit of envy, I suppose. Then I do something stupid like go to a museum and read the little cards near each piece. Then I look back at the piece and go, "Huh?" ¶ I can't understand why it seems unacceptable to just say, "I wanted to make something pretty or ugly or interesting or all of the above, and show it to the world." Instead, we're presented with a series of perfectly enjoyable photographs that somehow create tension between the subject and the camera(?) because the depth of field is maintained throughout the group. Huh? Then I'm reminded why I developed a love/hate relationship with art a long time ago. I usually end up destroying anything I make, or at the very least, I let it fall apart. Last night, I was experimenting in Photoshop with a bunch of images I took a few months ago, mostly fooling around with the ubiquitous "pixel pull" effect and variations, getting some really nice results.
—Ooh, that's really nice.
—Yeah, I like that one.
Cmd-Z. Some twiddling. Time passes. PK was reading.
—I like that one, too.
—Eh. It's okay.
—You are saving these into separate files, right?
Cmd-Z. PK goes back to his book. Lather, rinse, repeat. I did actually save a few of the really nice images, but the whole point of the thing was procedure to me, anyway. I was trying to figure out how to consistently get the results I wanted, and what amount of movement in my selection would create it. There wasn't that much interest in the end result itself, necessarily. Sometimes it seems like this is what should've been the case with the things on display. I fail to see how a perpetually looping video of a womain in a white room sucking on her toe says much about the world. I really do. But that bitch is still at the MCA, still going at it, and the little card giving it profound post-modern meaning is still there, too. Maybe museums should implement a commenting system. That would be post-modern, damnit. Especially if the commenting would eventually override the explanatory card entirely.

§ I sometimes think that my expectations are too, which is to say impossibly, high. I reach a point in thought about a thing where I come to the decision that I could probably never get it to come out right, and so what's the point, right? it's all so stupid and cheezy I-wish-I-could-show-you-what's-in-my-head I could puke. On one level, though, the whole situation is kind of amusing because I also like to joke that I aspire to mediocrity. Nobody else seems to find that as funny as I do. ¶ This has been on my mind recently because I'm actually, finally, working on a few things again. I've been hounding PK for a months now to put together another site for himself, and we've just started mashing together, and trashing, ideas for it. Two projects of my own have been floating around in my head, waiting for me to actually put some code down. Mainly, they've been delayed by laziness. I have a tendency to make things either when I'm in a horrible mood, or in random bursts of frantic energy. I remember once putting together a site, including content, graphics, Greymatter installation and templating, Ikonboard system and whatnot in a 15-hour marathon session at the keyboard. By the end, my wrists hurt, I couldn't hold onto anything reliably, and I had a bunch of hex numbers stuck in my head. ¶ For some reason, I have the feeling one of those manic periods is coming on.


§ We're in the dining room(trans: office), working on one of our current projects. He's working in Illustrator, setting up a layout sketch, because he's the one that knows what the buttons do; I'm backseat driving.
—What're those two boxes down there for?
—Descriptive text.
—There's not going to be enough room down there. You tend to blab, you know.
—Shut up. I'm working on that.
¶ Here he starts drawing out a rough horizontal scrollbar. Okay, I see. I look at the corner of the Illustrator window: 100%.
—What size is that text?
—Eleven point.
—Well, not to sound like Jakob Nielsen, or anything, but do you actually expect people to read, horizontally, two lines at a time?
—Okay, you're right.
—Yup. Now what about putting that there, those here, and the title down there, instead?
¶ He starts moving things.
—Besides, text doesn't work in columns like that unless you hard-code it, and I don't like you that much.


§ While I was poking around the various sites of a certain self-identified accessibility obsessif(I refuse to italicize that), researching a future project of mine, I was making various observations to PK, who said something like, “Oh, whatever. I can never find a damn thing on any of those sites, anyway.” This was a true enough statement. The sites create an intricate web of connections, seemingly at random, likely due to the growing variety of topics covered over time. But it's still confusing, and the more I look, the more areas and sub-sites I keep finding, that are only mentioned one or two places. My answer, which I passed on to PK because I can't keep my trap shut, seemed simple: We pick our battles. Accessibility is not necessarily Information Architecture, which some people seem to believe is not Design, either, despite some reasoning that seems obvious to me. ¶ I wonder if the reason for the rift might be that the disciplines have become too involved or overblown that people are afraid to try the other, even at the most rudimentary level. Maybe they just can't be bothered. At least that's what I'm often told when I ask the appropriate people these questions. A page that's easily interpreted by a blind user's screen reader might not look very pretty to someone who can actually see it. I don't think this is an especially fair sacrifice – or even just desserts – it's just a different one. ¶ Tables don't have to be complicated to be attractive. While using lime green as a highlight color is generally effective, it's also a bit aesthetically offensive and, I would think, of limited value on a white background. I'm sure there's something else that could be used. It also seems that there would be simple ways to get around some of these issues. Maybe when I can be bothered, I'll look into it. I've finally found a voice reader program that has a demo available but haven't downloaded yet. ¶ Odd. You would expect the sites of an accessibility advocate to be an example, and a good one, of accessbility. Bobby should just gobble them up without a peep. You'd be wrong. You might think that the reason was something involved and difficult to fix. You'd be wrong again. But as previously stated, we choose our battles. Often, in the name of one, we disregard another.



§ I've been trying to come up with some way to explain to myself why this will not continue, and I still haven't been able to find a clear one. I've spent so much time progressively deconstructing what I've been doing that I somehow overlooked the fact I was actually a bit irritated with the idea itself and that that might have been some of the cause for deconstruction. The subject matter is not linear. My thoughts are not linear. Yet the format tends to demand it, and the tools generally enforce it, partially in the name of ease-of-use. This is wrong.
Formats are good in theory, but generally bad in practice. A high school student approaches an assignment to write a sonnet more as a math problem than as poetry. An artificial expectation to produce daily, reinforced by timestamps does not produce good writing, but aimless jabber about the latest furniture purchase, Buffy episode, or sexual conquest. Life doesn't come in discrete dash-bordered chunks for MTV-speed broadcast in 11pt Georgia and weekly archiving in an unnecessary remedial-PHP wrapper, for geek cred. A web site is not a graduation day signature book for all the popular kids to write "Have a nice summer" in.
Insult somebody. Write about something, with feeling, and make somebody else feel it, too. Be vulnerable. Be right. Prove it. Watch Survivor and keep it to yourself, for once. Insult somebody else. Link and say something for or against it, rather than just about it. Then shut the fuck up. Buy your own damn books. Hide things in comment tags. Stop looking at your referrers, and please don't post them on your front page. A Google related-pages link adds nothing to your writing. Nobody cares what software you use to maintain the site, what tools were involved, where you're hosted, what fonts you used, or about that picture of your server. Word count? Make someting beautiful. Make it scroll sideways.
There are other ways to do this. Try some of them.