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Archive: 4 October 2004

Mazel Tov!

Kat, Carolyn, and I send our good wishes and heartfelt congratulations to Jeffrey Zeldman and Carrie Bickner on the birth of their daughter, Ava Marie Zeldman.

Let the “valid and well-formed” jokes commence.

Finding Fame and Fortu—Okay, Just Fame

You probably know that I’m a long-time Macintosh user, going back to the days of the single-floppy Mac SE.  At one point, I worked in a computer lab that had a “Changing the world, one person at a time” poster on the wall.  Every single one of my books, articles, and other resources has been written or developed on a Mac.  So you can imagine how thrilled I am to be featured in an Apple Pro article.  Not only can you find out a little bit about how I got into this whole CSS thing, but see a picture of me dropping some fat horns on my listeners.

I’ll put this Pro file on the shelf with being made a comic strip character as “ways to know I’ve really made it”.  But you know what really told me I’d arrived?  Discovering that someone had created a Wikipedia entry about me.  It was a pretty stubby page at the time, but its mere existence was enough to drop my jaw into my lap.  Now I find myself wondering if I should edit my own entry to include a full biography and related links, or if that would in some way be incredibly gauche.  (And asking someone else to do it for me would just be gauche by proxy, which is worse.)

It’s an odd thing to be famous, even when the fame is limited to a specific field of activity.  As a matter of fact, I was recently asked to write an article about the “fame game” and I’m still mulling over how to tackle it.  See, when you get right down to it, being well-known is both a reward and a restraint.  When people look to you, there’s a certain set of expectations that gets imposed upon you, whether you want them or not.  You’re supposed to always be right, always be fair, and always be in agreement with whoever’s looking to you.  None of these things are possible.

Nevertheless, I am where I am because I worked to get here (and was lucky), and I’ve no real complaints about the position I occupy.  All told, it’s not a bad thing.  It isn’t even a good thing.  It just kind of is.

So there’s still the question of what I might write about the “fame game”.  As it was posed to me, the editor was interested in my thoughts on “how influential designers and developers must balance ‘responsibility’ to the community with their own need to say what’s on their mind and use their clout to get good things done”.  In many ways, it’s the classic “how do you feel about being a role model?” question.  I’m not entirely sure I’m qualified to answer the question, although I do have some ideas.  I often wonder what the community thinks, though.

So I’ll throw it out to you lot: in your personal opinion, how should influencers balance community responsibility with personal expression—or does there need to be a balance at all?

Baby Proof

September was quite an eventful month around these parts.  Guess who learned to crawl, started pulling herself to a standing position, began “cruising” (hesitantly walking while holding on to a couch, table, or other object), moved up to a bigger car seat, figured out how to drink from a sippy cup as well as she already could through a straw, and acquired full object permanence within that thirty days?

And those are just the developmental changes we’re sure happened.  We’re very tired now, thank you.

In the process of installing baby gates all over the house, I discovered that I’m becoming vaguely handy.  It’s a little weird.  Practice does get one closer to perfection, and Ged knows I’ve a very long way to go before I even begin to approach the contemplation of perfection in being handy, but I’m now to the point of seriously thinking about building my own workspace furniture, sort of like Dan did a while back.

Most of my practice was obtained by trying to baby-proof our kitchen.  This is no easy task anyway, but the, er, “interesting” choices made by the house’s previous owner made it about a zillion times more difficult.  Because of the way the drawers and cabinets are faced, it’s almost impossible to secure about half of them.  Of the half that could be secured, two-thirds of them were a royal pain.

Of course, sometimes the difficulty wasn’t with the materials.  I had a friend over to help me with the kitchen proofing, and we spent a lot of time complaining about the idiots who had put together the kitchen.  We had just pulled out a drawer to install a lock.  He selected a thin bit to drill a guide hole, and then started.  The drill bit didn’t even penetrate the facing.  He pressed harder, and still nothing.  Harder, and I realized the drill bit was actually starting to bend.  It wasn’t getting anywhere.  We were kind of impressed, as the facing didn’t look that tough.

No matter; he switch to a sturdier bit and started again.  That one made no better progress than the first one, and as he bore down, we both saw a wisp of smoke curl out of the drill site.  When the drill was lifted away, there was simply a small dimple in the facing.  Now we were seriously impressed, and more than a little confused.  What the heck was this facing made of, anyway?

Just as I started rooting around in the toolbox for a hammer and chisel, he suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, I am such a dumbass.”

It was suddenly very, very clear what had happened.  I couldn’t help it.  I started laughing, as did he.

He clicked over a lever on the drill, put the bit back in place, and hit the drill trigger.  It tore straight in.  I almost fell on the floor, I was laughing so hard.  I couldn’t speak, could barely breathe.

“Well, go figure!” he said in a self-mocking tone.  “I guess it works better when you have the drill actually going forward instead of in reverse!  Wow!  Who’d have thought?”

Indeed so.  Lesson learned.


Since there were requests for pictures of the little one in action, here you go: one crawling, one standing, and a bonus “on the swings” picture.  No, I don’t need help adjusting the brightness on these, but thanks.

Three pictures: one of her crawling away from the camera, one of her standing against a table, and one of her on a playground swing.
October 2004
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