Halloween 2007

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

DSC02360This 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.


checkthefenceA few months ago the web group at the ISC was approached by a local design firm to host and code checkthefence​.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 checkthefence​.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 élite 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.