Kat’s father made it home to Long Island last night, having walked about fifty blocks uptown before managing to get off the island. One of Kat’s college friends was also very near the WTC when it was hit, and made it out physically unharmed. So far, despite Kat’s strong NYC ties, we’ve been lucky: so far as we’re aware, nobody she knows was injured or killed. We’re safe, everyone we know is safe; I don’t know about you, but for me, Thanksgiving has started a little early this year, even as I mourn the loss we’ve suffered as a people.
Kat and I have just heard that her father, whose office is very close to where the World Trade Center used to stand, was not harmed but is still somewhere on Manhattan Island. Apparently he saw everything, which I don’t think I can imagine. Or, more likely, I just don’t want to.
Our hearts, in the moments when they can feel at all, go out to those who have lost loved ones today.
As I crawl back into update mode—last week was Web2001, where I presented quite a bit and met lots of cool folks (and got my picture taken by Heather Champ). I also got Jeffrey Zeldman’s Taking Your Talent to the Web signed by the man himself, and then discovered that I’m mentioned in the acknowledgments.
Random thought drawn from the show: although I don’t think tables are an evil design tool, I do think they’ve poisoned and limited our ideas of what is possible in Web design. There is another structure that can be described as a collection of cells: a prison. It’s time for designers to break out.
If you’re dropping by to see if the complexspiral demo is live yet—no, it isn’t, but it will be soon! I’ll be doing my best to get it and the material from my talks online in the next week or two. I beg your patience while I get myself reoriented to life without five simultaneous high-pressure short-schedule projects. While you’re waiting, you can get an update on nanotech use in military and civilian products from CNN.com and the Associated Press. Thank you—please pull around to the first window.
I was going to fill everyone in on events for July, which was not bereft of them. Unfortunately, my right arms hurts so much (for no apparent reason) that I can barely type, so the update will have to wait. In the meantime, please enjoy a comical musing on the joy that is upgrading to Windows XP, as well as a perfect example of how automated banner-ad routines can get you into big, big trouble.
Hoo boy… life took over again. Here’s what happened in the last month:
Kat and I went to her tenth college reunion at Brandeis University, where we met up with friends of hers (in some cases, also friends of mine) and had a lot of fun for three days. Kat even convinced me to dance, which anyone will tell you is both a rare thing and an event to be avoided at all costs. Still, I enjoyed myself. The campus is quite beautiful, and the view from the top of The Rock is pretty nice too.
The day after we got back from the reunion, I went out to Mountain View for nine days to get to know my fellow team members better, and get myself up to speed on what’s going on with Netscape 6.1 and the future of the browser. Despite what you may have heard, Netscape is not getting out of the browser market. If nothing else, it would be kind of silly for them to hire someone like me if they weren’t going to be a browser company any more. Anyway, my parents flew out a day after I did for a vacation, so we met up for dinner while they were on their way through town to the wine country north of the city. That weekend, Peter Murray (good friend and library automation expert extraordinaire) was in town for a conference so we also met for dinner. It was definitely odd meeting up in San Francisco with people I know who live (literally) thousands of miles from there, just as I do.
A few days after that, Kat flew out, my parents came back into San Francisco, and we all set off on a vacation which we’d had planned before Netscape first contacted me about the job. We went—where else?—to Ragged Point for several days, and put relaxation on the top of our “To Do” list. I’m hoping that my pictures come out okay, because if they did I got some beautiful shots. We also saw a pod of (probably) humpback whales off the shore, which is unusual for that time of year. And, of course, we dined like emperors on the incredible culinary creations of Roger Wall, genius chef at the Ragged Point Restaurant. In short, a wonderful time was had by all.
Just as a side note—the more I think about it, the more I like the idea I proposed in my last update: U.S. federal income tax forms should allow taxpayers to vote for the programs on which they’d like to see their money be spent. For example—and I’m being very hypothetical here—assume that Americans collectively indicated that they wanted most of their money to go to NASA, and very little of it to the Defense Department. We’d know which one should get funding priority, wouldn’t we? Of course, in the real world it would likely be the other way around, but that’s not my point. What I’m trying to say is that when you ask people what they’re willing to pay for, you find out what they consider most important. I think that’s worth knowing.
Memorial Day came and went without any real incident, and that includes going to see Pearl Harbor, which we didn’t do on purpose. Neither Kat nor I has any real interest in the movie, although I expect that I’ll rent it (or better yet: borrow it from the library up the street!) when it comes out on disc, skip to chapter before the battle sequence starts, watch the attack, and then hit the eject button. Well, okay, maybe I’ll watch the sequence twice before I eject it.
I have to say that living within a block of a library which has DVDs for checkout is really darned cool. I’ve at long last seen Casablanca and the entirety of His Girl Friday, for example, and also caught up with some of Ken Burns’ Jazz, U-571, and Topsy-Turvy, to name some recent titles. All free! Publicly supported libraries: an idea whose time should never go. Bruce Sterling agrees, so you know it must be true. If I’m going to be taxed by the government, and of course I am, libraries and public schools are kind of thing which I want my money to buy. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could check boxes on our tax returns indicating where we want our tax money to be spent? Especially if the converse were true: anyone getting a refund should check boxes indicating the programs which should have to pay for the refund. I’m not suggesting that these choices be binding, at least not at the start, but it would be a fascinating snapshot of what Americans consider to be important.
Geek moment: DSL arrived in the Manor Meyer last week, and my home networking hardware came in today. Next up: wiring the house, setting up a Linux box to run the show, and migrating Web and mail services onto it. By the time it’s all done, hopefully before the week is out, Kat might actually be able to send e-mail again…
After a long and tortuous battle, the Amazon.com package containing The Emperor’s New Groove and the official Iron Chef book arrived on our doorstep. It took so long because Amazon’s system thought our credit card had been denied when, in fact, the issuing bank had approved the transaction. After a week of trying, I still haven’t gotten an explanation of what went wrong, or even a guess at what might have gone wrong. All I get from them is “the card was denied” when I know it wasn’t; I got the transaction’s approval code from Chase myself, and in about ten minutes, including hold time. Don’t even get me started on the length of time it took Amazon to straighten out the situation. As usual, the folks at Penny Arcade summed it up quite nicely, albeit ever so slightly obscenely. (Hey, it’s the Web, what do you expect?) As a result of all this, I’m pretty much abandoning Amazon for the forseeable future.