Saturday, February 12, 2005

Very Cool - A pirate ship made from snow

Apparently there are some clever monkeys over at Dartmouth college. These monkeys decided to revive a longstanding tradition of creating a massive snowsculpture for their winter carnival. What did they make? How about a 56 foot high pirate ship!

Click for biggerness.

It took them quite a while, using volunteers and press gangs etc. But the end result is pretty frickin cool. Apparently, the tradition started many years ago. The coolest sculpture for me was made in 1969, a dragon that breathed fire. Very, very cool.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Zen and the Art of Web Development

I have had many vocations over the years. Window washer, puppeteer, sign maker, technical writer, fire eater, phone book deliverer, the list goes on and on. About 8 years ago I somehow I managed to talk my way into a job as a web developer at a large company called Pioneer-Standard (no, not the company that makes stereos). I stayed with this job for 5 years, mostly because it paid pretty damn well and I worked with some cool people.

Although I am no longer working for a vast corporate machine (they sold off our half of the company), I still continue to do freelance web development. My clients now are small businesses and artists who don't have the time or patience to learn computer mumbo-jumbo. I provide e-commerce websites for a reasonable price and get to keep my skills passably sharp. Right now I am working on a sight for a small screen printing outfit. They're developing a line of Nascar parody t-shirts. You can take a look at how the site is shaping up here.

For this project, the layout come from another graphic artist. The artist works mostly in print, which allows you a lot of freedom of design. The shopping cart software I use can be customized to match her design, but it is a time-consuming process. It's part image manipulation in photoshop and part code tinkering. The odd thing is that I actually like working on the site in this way. Altering the code to match the clients design requires dozens of small changes in many different files. The process of tracking down and changing the code is rather like doing a crossword. When one item is changed, other code changes become visible. When I get into a groove I seem to loose track of time. I started today's work at 2:30 and its almost 1am now. I could easily keep going, My mind is alert, but I'd pay for it tomorrow.

Here are some other sites that I have worked on:

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Go Steve- It's your birthday...

Yesterday was a damn fine day. A collection of friends went with my sweetie and me to the massive Home and Garden show. We perused the many gardens and lusted after items of home goodness that we mostly can't afford.

After that it was back to Bag End for food and cake. Nothing fancy, just a great day with some friends. We talked and laughed way into the night. I got a few gifts and phone calls from my brother, dad and an old friend from high school.

There are times that I truly forget how old I am, or rather, what my age is. Old is a tricky word. I've met people who think that 50 is old. Once they hit that age they switch into 'old person mode'. It freaky. Mention doing something out of the ordinary and they shake their heads and say, "No, I'm tool old for that nonsense". They look back instead of forward. They loose their sense of wonder. And once they have accepted this phase, the process of aging seems to speed up and intensify for them. It's a frieghtening thing to watch.

Then there's the couple I met at the Art Museum last week. 83 years old and they were planning on going to Egypt in a month. They were there to do some research. Brush up on the culture. They're outlook on life was fantastic and their enthusiasm was infectious. When I am 83, I want to be planning my first visit to the moon. Oh sure, it's crowded during the summer, the low gravity can give you the runs and the food isn't as good as at home, but it's an adventure!

Thanks to Lindsey, Chris, Carol, Jim, Jenny, Rupp, Ed and Duff for making my B-day. A good day with friends is more valuable than gold.

**UPDATE** My friend Jim Taber wrote to remind me that we've known each other since grade school. My bad. Actually, I believe that we actually served together as fellow soldiers under Hadrian in another life. But explaining the intricasies of the Roman camapign into Gaul would have taken too long.