March, 2011: 13 posts.
Go West Young Man!
Leah and I managed to get all the way across the country in just 4 days. Then we picked up the kids, piecemeal, and turned right around and went to her parents’ house in Southwestern Utah! It’s been a driving extravaganza for us and really a joyful trip all around. This fine morning I find myself in the kitchen of my good friend Chris in Orange County. And by noontime Pacific time we’ll be back in Sunny San Diego, America’s Finest City™.
I’m looking forward to seeing yet other parts of my family: so many Aunts and Uncles and Cousins. It will be hard, I think, to once again have distance between my Parent’s Home in Roanoke and myself, and my sister is still way over in DC. My kids–stepkids–are still scattered thither and yon, from Chico to Sunnyvale to Moorpark, but it feels like the correct thing to get back to San Diego. It’s where Leah and I met, and where we started our journey. We’re ready for a new chapter, and San Diego, for the moment, feels right. Part of that is that is that we are getting reports that Grandma is weaker than she had been, and requiring more care. I’m also very excited to see what the explosion of mobile- and smartphones has done to the tech community in San Diego since I left. I’m hoping to be useful and inventive in that arena, and a larger city seems like the place to do that.
And I’ll leave you with two drawings I did while Leah drove us west from St. George, on the way to California.
Grandpa: “I pushed down and nothing happened…”
Grandma: “Push again!”
This is from March 10, 2009. Futzing with the camera to take a photo of the flowers in the front yard, and a perfect microencapsulation of my grandparents and how they worked on things together. My Grandma had a pretty debilitating stroke in 1982. Let me say that again, she had a pretty debilitating stroke in 1982 and has required more or less assistance with things since then. My Grandfather retired and they worked as a great team. I like to think Leah and I work as well together.
Sadly, we lost my grandfather in September of that year. My aunts and uncles have been rockstars taking care of my grandma now. And we have additional awesome caregivers during the day. Leah and I are here in that house now and get to observe and assist where we can during the day and overnight. We won’t be in the house more than a month but we’re honored that my grandma wanted us to stay here as we transition back to California life. All the family has been incredibly supportive.
My grandma took a bad turn last week, including a trip to the Emergency Department, but seems to be coming up to her baseline this week, including walking better with her walker when necessary. She is weaker than I remember last year, but I’m hoping she improves!
But time is precious. That’s nothing new to those of you who have been following events chronicled on this blog for the past few years.
Time is precious, and we move onward, a day at a time.
Bas and Me plus Grief
A nice post by Leah. For quite a while, and maybe even now, all photos of me have the character of Grief in the room.
Mother Mary Comforts Me
So here’s a photo from the room I’m staying in at Grandma’s house:
And here’s a photo, maybe a year or so old, of my Grandmother:
On Friday I opened an account for her on Facebook. She used to be an avid emailer. In fact, her email addresses was one of the first I used, on AOL. Unfortunately it’s gotten harder for her to do email–sitting at a computer is a bit of a chore–her vision and motor skills are not as great, and her email account (on Yahoo!) only provides a web interface, which is fairly clunky. Facebook may be a middle-ground for us here. So the other day I printed (yes, printed out) her Facebook messages. She had some responses to the messages. I acted as her personal Facebook Secretary–I’m a Social Media Expert!–and transcribed her short reply.
I’m not really happy with this solution, but I’m hoping to get my hands on an iPad for her to try out at the beginning of April see how well that interface might work. The typing is a problem though. My Uncle actually set up a voice recognition program on her Windows XP machine (still running IE6!) some years ago, but that’s yet a different brand of clunky. Add to that that her hearing is poor and she’s quite a challenge for a UI designer.
She’s a nonagenarian now, which is a fancy way to say she’s 90 years old.
I’m sorry, I got myself off-track with that digression. I meant to write about what it’s like to stay in her house, with a pile of things that have emotional weight for me. I’ve included a photo above of one thing. That is a photo of a statue of Mary. Oh, who’s Mary you ask? In Christian teaching, Mary is the mother of Christ. Catholics, I think above most other Christian sects, hold Mary in very high esteem. Marian prayer features prominently in the Rosary, for example. I remember my Grandma and her friend telling me when I was a kid of how praying the Rosary would eventually stop communism. Here in 2010, with the lone holdouts of communist thought being North Korea and Cuba, I have to say Mary did a pretty good job.
The statue is one I purchased. I must’ve been 8 years old, and I bought it in the Philippines, specifically for my Grandma, because I think she would like it. Unfortunately during our travels back from Manila, it was damaged, but with help from my Mom I managed to glue the head back on. The thinking behind the purchase was a nice gift for my Grandma, of course, and she has kept it in her house for the last 3 decades. I think the blue of the statue is still beautiful. I loved totems and statuary as a kid. Religious iconography and architecture still has the power to move me, no matter the religion or sect.
Thinking back to the kid I was, I am fascinated by my serious-mindedness and devotion to Christ, and Mary, and the infinite magisterium of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. I have waxed and waned and even abandoned that Church to varying degrees in the intervening years. But the linkage to family the Church made for me has not declined. I was very excited to know that the Eucharistic Minister would come for my Grandma yesterday. And I am encouraging to her to be well enough to travel to Mass sometime in the future when she is more mobile.
Of course, for me, these days “mobile” has a whole other meaning. My dad now has a smartphone and he texts, texts! me from the road and on a regular basis. Leah and I are highly mobile right now. I’m playing Words With Friends with varying degrees of frequency with the kids. I find myself pulling out my Mom’s iPod Touch more and more to play with Brushes, even if it’s only for a nothing sketch like this one:
I’m not sure I have a coherent theme for the words you are reading now. I suppose I could talk about the Catholic Church’s mobile confession app, but I don’t know that much about it. In the meantime, I suppose I better get some work done, and perhaps listen to The Beatle’s Let It Be, from which I stole the title of this post–well the line is actually “Mother Mary Comes To Me” I think–but I prefer my mishearing. Let It Be was made at the end of The Beatles career, as they were about the break up. It’s about accepting the end of things. And I’m learning to come to terms with things, and move forward myself.
So here’s to accepting the things I cannot change, and changing the things I can.
I only made this because Claire de Lune is a COFFEEHOUSE with no WiFi.
Workplace content filters are useless.
Apparently Bluecoat‘s web content filtering product thinks my portfolio or my older portfolio have nudity on them.
That is not true.
I have never seen a workplace content filter that was worth the money paid for it. They always seem to make research harder.
Batmobile by Chris Greazel
Absolutely WONDERFUL Batmobile design by Chris Greazel over on our New City Blog.
WebSanDiego Mailing List Visualization
So I’m back in San Diego. And part of my identity when I lived here was starting and cultivating the websandiego mailing list. It started on ONElist, and they were bought by eGroups, and eventually Yahoo! where it is now. It all started in March of 1999.
We’ve moved from Usenet and Friendster to MySpace, and now to Twitter and Facebook as mechanisms to connect people. We call these tools “social networks.” And they are tools, just like classrooms and families and co-ops and governments and companies are tools. The Social Network is just making slightly more portable the connections we make in life.
Social networks, including the ancient listserv, embody social connection while also accomplishing other tasks. The intent of WebSanDiego as a mailing list was to foster connection among people who make things on the web. Here’s the constitution I established, lo those many years ago:
WebSanDiego is an unmoderated mailing list for San Diegans and others in the area who work on the internet in general and on the World Wide Web in particular. It’s a place to ask technical questions, discuss current design issues, speak about business, judge new servers, talk hosting and ISPs, or just plain talk about the fast forward world that is the WWW. You can share your time-saving tips, HTML tricks, share URLs, ramble, rant, n’ rave, and generally talk about the web! The web is supposed to be about community, so why not let web developers learn from each other? This is THE List for the Web in San Diego.
When I lived here I truly lived the list. I took it as a component of my personality. The successes, friends and colleagues I still have in San Diego are attributable to the list.
In January of 2005 I moved away. My activity on the list diminished as I faced other challenges in my life.
In September of 2007 I left the list. Obviously my activity ceased then.
So I was curious about the list, and what became of it. Would it be worthwhile to join the list for me? What’s happening? Well, there’s less traffic. All questions can be answered, whether well or poorly, with a visualization. So here’s a visualization of list traffic from 1999 to now using the number of posts counted on the Yahoo! main page.
This was a one-off visualization, but feel free to fork the code at https://gist.github.com/860932. The green part represents the time I was running the list and living in San Diego. The yellow represents the list when I was running the list but had moved away. And the dark gray represents the time after I left the list.
Here we are, 12 years after its founding, and I have rejoined the list. I am not an administrator of the list. Just a member. I’m not sure how much upside there is for a list like this now. We have twitter, and Facebook, StackOverflow, Meetup, and the excellent http://www.sdtechscene.org/ which shows San Diego has interesting tech and programming and web events nearly EVERY night.
It’s a whole new world in 2011 then it was in 1999 or 2005 or 2007. It’s good to be in San Diego again.
I have no idea what happens next.
Thanks for your attention,
Santa Claus! (in March)
Hey look! Noodling in Brushes.app (when, exactly will I stop noodling in that program? NEVER!!!) has produced a holiday-themed image. Santa Claus!
Holidays have been good to me since I was a kid. I loved to make custom greeting cards. Loved it! I got wonderfully positive feedback about them from anyone. I remember meticulously copying the little crown of “Hallmark” on the backs of my cards. Somehow, using the Hallmark logo on my own card was a way of claiming legitimacy. When I got older I would put logos on the back denoting “ART-C CARDS” (taken from my middle name, Arthur, and last initial, C for Crawford). Because why shouldn’t I have a company?
Here’s what that looked like in about 1990:
Here’s an Easter card, and I get a lot of traffic from this Halloween Poster (which I did as a header in 2003), and from these pumpkin designs. For some reason I’ve been reticent to scan all my old Christmas and Holiday cards. I’m not sure exactly why, but perhaps I’ll rectify that sometime. Holidays are pretty great. I really loved them as a kid.
A Night Out
Last night Leah, Erin (my friend of, uh, 23 years?), and I went out, and after dinner at CrazeeBurger, we landed at LeStats on Park, a coffeehouse that is open 24 hours. It was great to reconnect and hang out, and Leah even got some fabric out of the deal.
Yes, I did some drawing.
There are reportedly some other photos of this drawing, and also of drawings by Erin and Leah, but
those aren’t posted anywhere yet. See over here on Night With Erin.
Ray at Night and Other Delights
On Saturday night Leah, Alexandra, Tamara Leeper and I went out to Ray at Night, an art walk on Ray Street here in San Diego. I mentioned attending Ray at Night in 2003, but I’m not totally sure what year I first went. They’ve been putting it on for almost 10 years.
Before we went to Ray Street, we rallied at LeStat’s on Park, and I did some more drawing on my Mom’s iPod Touch with Brushes.app. I’m particularly proud of this one:
I have to say I love whipping out the Touch and doing some drawing. I’m really surprised that I keep drawing. I’ve tried over the years to get back into drawing, and I carry paper and pens with me always, but the ease of having everything in my pocket, with a tool that is unlikely to inkily explode in my pants. Now, battery life is an issue, this 1st Gen iPod Touch does not last as long as I’d like, but it’s enough to do a fair amount of drawing, and I can charge it in the car.
I also like the fact that I can easily get people to draw with it. I just offer it up and it’s sort of like “instant fun!” for people. Even people who profess no drawing skill will try it out. I like that a lot. I have a fair number of drawings like that, here are two, one from Alex, one from Tam.
I think Alex’s would make a rather nice print for a dress. Tam’s reminds me of the excellent indie comic Tales of the Beanworld.
Ray at Night was cool. It’s great to get inspired seeing other people’s work. Even if I don’t like it, or I find it pandering, or uninteresting, it’s fun for me to react to the art. One I particularly liked was the work of Dani Dodge. She had some great pieces up. I liked two in particular: a Times Square scene called Crossing and one of the Paris Metro. We talked about big cities a bit, and though she had had a long day driving for her day job, and so looked tired, I troubled her for a photo of her in front of her work.
Dani asked me if I was an artist and I had no real answer, despite the fact that the name of this site is ArtLung and the “art” part is about “Art” with a capital “A” and not “Art” as in Arthur my middle name. My brain would not let me say “yes”–but my hands answered for me–I pulled out the Touch and showed her some of my sketches. I’m happy to share and proselytize the app. It really is a boon to be able to draw so easily and quickly.
And it is also awesome to be able to get out and see great art, have great conversations, and see great people back home in San Diego.
The Coffee Bean & Tea has been good to me in the past two weeks. Here’s a coffee bean of thanks, courtesy, AGAIN, Brushes.app.