Halloween 2007

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

DSC02360 This is the first Halloween in some­thing like a decade in which I’ve not watched The Crow on Devil’s Night and The Rocky Horror Picture Show on All Hallows Eve it­self. What with my dou­ble-gim­péd­ness and var­i­ous oth­er re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, I had to for­go the plea­sure.

I did, how­ev­er, get to hand out can­dy for the first time in about a decade as well. I es­ti­mat­ed fair­ly well, based on the num­ber of gob­lins that my neigh­bor had last year. I have per­haps 20 Kit Kats left. It was fun to sit out on the porch and en­cour­age the lit­tlest ones to say “Trick or Treat” and give the old­er kids with­out cos­tumes shit for not hav­ing cos­tumes. I made pa­per cranes for the adults, and it was good to pass the time fold­ing in be­tween groups of gob­lins. The moth­ers were all tick­led to get them.

The Pumpkin Tide

I saw thou­sands of pump­kins last night
come float­ing in on the tide,
bump­ing up against the rocks and
rolling up on the beach­es;
it must be Halloween in the sea.

–Richard Brautigan, 1968

I carved on Sunday with some friends. Last minute plan­ning re­sult­ed in a lack of pump­kin, but carv­ing wa­ter­mel­ons was just as fun, and ul­ti­mate­ly more ef­fec­tive on dis­play, when carved and lit ap­pro­pri­ate­ly. Still my fa­vorite hol­i­day, even as the fla­vor changes with age.


checkthefence A few months ago the web group at the ISC was ap­proached by a lo­cal de­sign firm to host and code check​the​fence​.us, a site meant to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about art put on the con­struc­tion fence sur­round­ing the Breuer Tower, a space for pub­lic com­ment on the con­struc­tion, and an in­ter­ac­tive Flash gad­get where vis­i­tors could de­sign their own wall.

This was right when the furor over the Breuer Tower de­mo­li­tion de­ci­sion and the sales tax in­crease was at its peak; and, at least from my per­spec­tive, it was ob­vi­ous that check​the​fence​.us would be a PR night­mare, a tax-pay­er fund­ed waste of time draw­ing even more at­ten­tion to the PR night­mare that the Breuer Tower [now for sale] al­ready was. I want­ed noth­ing to do with it, and though I wasn’t at the ac­tu­al meet­ing with the folks, I did see the mock­ups of what they want­ed, pri­or to. I was and still am un­der the im­pres­sion that every as­pect of this par­tic­u­lar de­sign project was ill-ad­vised. I think we told them that if they al­ready had the de­sign and URL pur­chased, they didn’t need us to im­ple­ment it. We didn’t hear back from them, so I thought it was dead in the wa­ter. Then as I hob­bled to work ear­li­er this week, I saw the URL sten­ciled on the side of the wall. Checked the site, es­sen­tial­ly an un­der con­struc­tion page with the County lo­go on it. The full site went live to­day. The wall is cur­rent­ly play­billed with Preserve/​Conserve ban­ners, the irony of which is ei­ther com­plete­ly lost on those in charge of what goes on the wall or some­thing a bit more fright­en­ing.

And the Office of Sustainability web­site that they say is com­ing soon? Don’t bet on it. The de­sign has been done since the of­fice was first launched, but I’ve spent months try­ing to get the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion to put on it. At one point we were asked to go with a theme like “Green County on a Blue Lake” and I had to point out that Cleveland al­ready has a site like that.

I’m cer­tain that post­ing this might get me in trou­ble, since talk­ing like this with my cowork­ers of­ten re­sults in fear­ful looks on their part, but the whole thing is so ridicu­lous from my per­spec­tive that I can’t not share it. I’m at such a low­ly po­si­tion in the County’s hi­er­ar­chy that I am meant to be nei­ther seen nor heard. But when our de­part­ment reads about County news in the Plain Dealer, in­stead of re­ceiv­ing the press re­leas­es in­ter­nal­ly, even a pe­on like me can see that there is a prob­lem. Much of the time it is easy to do quite a bit of good web work com­plete­ly un­der the radar, so it is frus­trat­ing when high-vis­i­bil­i­ty cost-cen­ters like check­the­fence can’t be cur­tailed. I mean, I saw the mounds of hate email we re­ceived when we did a sim­ple re­design of the County Home Page. I can’t imag­ine what the pub­lic com­ment sec­tion of check­the­fence is go­ing to gen­er­ate. I bet on­ly pos­i­tive ones make it on the site it­self. You can be sure they’re mod­er­at­ed.

I’ve been think­ing about PR and tech a lot late­ly, and the con­clu­sion I’ve reached is that if your mes­sage needs to be con­trolled and go through a spin cy­cle or two, you’ve got the wrong mes­sage or you’re go­ing about its dis­sem­i­na­tion in the wrong way. There is no room for fear in pub­lic re­la­tions, es­pe­cial­ly on the in­ter­net. I like the way Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired thinks.


Sunday, 28 October 2007

Even with my wis­dom teeth ex­tract­ed, in ad­di­tion to all of the oth­er cur­rent in­juries, it all still hurts less than one dis­lo­cat­ed kneecap. However, it is hard to do most any­thing with­out the use of my dom­i­nant arm. It is pret­ty much like I on­ly have one arm, pe­ri­od. It is hard to wash my hands, put on de­odor­ant, wash dish­es, tie shoelaces, but­ton or zip up a coat, type, and wipe.

Eating is ac­tu­al­ly easy, or was un­til I got chip­munked in my mouth. I’m deft with left-hand­ed uten­sil­ry. I end­ed up get­ting my hy­drocodone Rx filled, be­cause the tooth throb­bing was so ridicu­lous. [Apparently no spe­cial char­ac­ter ex­ists for the pre­scrip­tion sym­bol]. I on­ly have a $5 co­pay for gener­ic pre­scrip­tions which is sweet. I did have to drop 20% of the cost of my ex­trac­tion though. Buying a Mac is go­ing to have to be put off for a cou­ple of months.


It is start­ing to get cold enough that I am an­tic­i­pat­ing the end of bike-ride-to-work sea­son. I was sur­prised this morn­ing to feel a pang of re­gret over this. The ear­ly morn­ing ex­er­cise, con­cen­tra­tion and sur­pris­es [like the ground­hog across from the VTR] helped me be a bet­ter work­er.

That was writ­ten yes­ter­day. There is a unique sa­vor to self-in­flict­ed irony. I went ass-over-teaket­tle last night on my way to a meet­ing about crime in Tremont. I was mugged by the side­walk but it on­ly took my dig­ni­ty. The dam­age re­port is a scraped left palm, abrad­ed left cheek, bust­ed chin, bro­ken left toe and bro­ken right el­bow. That’s what I get for rid­ing down the side­walk too fast, and us­ing my front brake too much. If I get my wis­dom teeth out to­mor­row I’ll look like I be­long to a fight club.

I’ve al­ways want­ed to learn how to do more shit south­paw any­way.

Paper Crane

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

You can make six pa­per cranes out of one let­ter-sized sheet of pa­per. The two small­est ones would make per­fect ear­rings.

The co­nun­drum is that the lan­guage to de­scribe the in­ef­fa­ble splen­dors and pos­si­bil­i­ties of our lives takes time to mas­ter, takes a cer­tain un­hur­ried en­gage­ment with the tasks of de­scrip­tion, as­sess­ment, cri­tique, and con­ver­sa­tion; that to speak this slow lan­guage you must slow down, and to slow down you must have some inkling of what you will gain by do­ing so. It’s not an elite lan­guage; no­madic and re­mote trib­al peo­ples are now quite good at pick­ing and choos­ing from development’s cas­cade of new toys, and so are some of the cash-poor, cul­ture-rich peo­ple in places like Louisiana. Poetry is good train­ing in speak­ing it, and skep­ti­cism is help­ful in re­ject­ing the four horse­men of this apoc­a­lypse, but they both re­quire a mind that likes to roam around and the time in which to do it.

Ultimately, I be­lieve that slow­ness is an act of re­sis­tance, not be­cause slow­ness is a good in it­self but be­cause of all that it makes room for, the things that don’t get mea­sured and can’t be bought.

- Rebecca Solnit

I think I re­al­ly on­ly have one pet peeve; peo­ple who com­plain about a part of their life but do noth­ing to fix that prob­lem or im­prove up­on it. Drives me bat­ty.