2005.03.01

Help me, please!

I whine, but I don’t necessarily want it plastered on my front lawn (at least, not anymore!)…

Okay, I’m about ready to cry here, so I’m going to call out to LazyWeb for some help. I really, really want to be able to create my new design’s layout in CSS and not have to use tables, but there seem to be things that CSS just can’t do (and which tables can do pretty trivially). Examples:

1) I want to have a three-column layout that maxes out at some arbitrary width (say, 1000 pixels). Columns two and three are fixed-width, and column one should fill all available space until the layout hits the limit, at which point the page should just extend to the right without recalculating the layout. Or, to describe in terms of tables, a left-aligned table with max-width: 1000px, second column fixed at 55px, third at 260px. Is this even possible to do?

More importantly:

2) I want the second column to be as tall as the entire page area so that I can draw a nice graphical element all the way down. It’s absolutely positioned so that I can align it with an elemnt in the banner area. Unbelievably, there doesn’t seem to be any way to do this! All the “height:100%” hacks I’ve seen out there only use the height of the browser window, which is no good.

CSS layout can’t be this broken, can it? Please tell me no, because I’m about ready to give up and go back to using tables (and you don’t want to see me cry, do you?)…


Transplant procedure

And away we go…!


2005.03.04

Arrival

Well, I think by now you’ve probably noticed that a new site design’s in effect. For fans of the grand experiment in purple, I hope you’re not disappointed. There’s still plenty of pink, purple, green — I love them too much not to use them (Tara, I kept the beach, just for you!).

Still, long-time readers will know that I’m never quite satisfied, so there are sure to be tweaks and changes over the next few weeks. Hopefully, the bulk of the work is done, though!

Some notes, before I get back to nummy things like bath products and tea*:

  1. I love CSS & the idea of CSS, but wow, does it have limitations when it comes to layout! I finally had to cheat a bit and surround everything with ten DIV’s to position my background graphic elements. Even then, I had to make a lot of images with invisible padding if I wanted to position them relative to the right side of the page.
  2. Internet Explorer is horrible!!! Could it be any worse at dealing with CSS?
  3. I would say: don’t be afraid of using tables, honestly! That is, unless you are a raving loon and think you might want to someday enable drop-in stylesheets. No matter what anyone tells you, there are definitely things you can do with tables which aren’t possible in CSS. I almost gave up so many times, but clearly I am a madwoman and need to be committed…

Also I finally have room to put my flickr photostream on my blog! So please enjoy, and everyone send warm fuzzies (or subscription money) to the lovely folks who make it possible.

Now I’m going to go brew myself some honey rooibos. See? Feels like home already!


2005.03.06

dear diary #6

dear diary,
 
today i turned nine years old!! we went to pizza factory and there was cake and clowns and three kinds of pizza. i ate too much frosting and had to sit in the corner for a long time. mommy didn’t say anything but i knew she was mad. also i didn’t like the clowns. they looked at me too much and their hands were cold and wet.
 
mr. dipple hasn’t come to visit in a long time but i can see him through the window before i go to sleep. my friend tracy came over last time but he didn’t want to meet her so i pretended nobody was home. i don’t know why cause i think he’d like tracy’s dollies too. anyways he’s been waiting outside ever since.
 
i wonder does he know it’s my birthday? last year he gave me a picture-book but mommy found it and burned it in the fireplace. when i told him he promised to give me another one but he hasn’t yet. maybe he was waiting for today. i’m glad she didn’t find you too! i think she still doesn’t know i got you again.
 
he is out there right now like always. i tried waving but i don’t think he saw me. i’ll try again tomorrow.
 
goodnight!
 
xoxo, -L.

2005.03.07

Chiming in

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Valerie and matter eater lad, being sweet, wonderful people, sent me a tin of Chimes Peanut Butter Ginger Chews. The note attached said:

She doesn’t like ginger & I don’t like peanut butter, so we thought of you. (p.s. Ginger Altoids are now widely available in NYC!)

Well, I certainly love ginger (no surprise to anyone), and enjoy peanut butter for the most part, but I’m afraid to say that these are pretty awful. Don’t know if it’s the natural outcome of the pairing or just my mutant sense of taste*, but my mouth got confused and everything ended up tasting like sickly sweet cucumber. The texture is nice (nice amount of chewiness, and not as sticky as chews from The Ginger People, which still make my favorite ginger candy), but the flavor — scary! And it lingers, too.

Which is not meant as a slam on Chimes as a brand — their other two flavors (ooh, peppermint!) look like they’d be plenty yummy and their tins are really, really pretty — but anyone who sees me in Seattle over the next week can probably get a free peanut butter ginger chew, no questions asked.

And thanks for the lovely thought, you two! I still enjoyed them — just not for the taste!

*want more evidence? diet vanilla coke tastes exactly the same way to me!

2005.03.08

Beata Vergine

More photos in each of the St. James Cathedral and Egypt photosets. I’ve been uploading images more frequently than blog entries lately (boxes, you know), so if you’ve been wondering if I ever update anything, you can take a peek.

I should find out how to integrate my photostream into my site feed. Someday! First, I need to get some writing in there…


2005.03.10

All about Katamari

GameSpot on Thursday’s GDC speech by Keita Takahashi (creator of Katamari Damacy):

According to Takahashi, his big break came in the form of a certain computer design curriculum that decided to adopt his idea for a student project. Creating a prototype that would ultimately sell the game’s potential, about a dozen students worked on game art while Namco took care of the level maps and programming framework. After roughly three years of prototype and development, Katamari Damacy was finally released. The rest, of course, is history.

How beautiful is that? Katamari Damacy is maybe the best distillation of a child’s sense of wonder into a video game that I’ve ever seen, and maybe now we know why!

I still think that this is the best game ever, and it’s not just me, obviously, since people who clearly have too much time on their hands (but we love them for it!) have created Katamari Doh-macy and Katamari Da Vinci (warning: more cuteness!).

As for my plea for music, David was kind enough to point out in comments that you can get Katamari Fortissimo Damacy from play-asia.com (via Entertainment Weekly, no less). I’m actually listening to it right now, thanks to Miranda!

If you want to sing along, you can get lyrics too. Watch for earworms, though — they’re everywhere!


2005.03.13

Tabula rasa

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I have a new graphics tablet!

I mean, I had one before too, but it was really old, didn’t have the right plug to work with any of my recent computers, and was generally completely useless — so this has been on my wish list for a few years now. My real goal was to draw pretty things and add some color to my entries, just like rosebaby used to do but doesn’t anymore* (example), but even without reaching such heights, the occasional fun doodle would have been reward enough.

Well, Office Depot gave me a perfect excuse by offering a $20 rebate on Wacom’s Graphire3 pad — bottom of the line and tiny, but which suits me very well. There’s even a slot near the top where you can store your stylus, so you can carry everything around easily without fear of losing any pieces.

Haven’t yet tried the software that came bundled in the box, but it seems to work really well with Adobe Illustrator — I’m in love with the smooth, graceful lilt it adds to my lines. Photoshop produced slightly less-pleasing (but cute!) results, but I think I just need to play with my brushes a bit. Loving the experiment!

*would love to see you start again, please!

2005.03.14

The act of creation

Spring seems to have arrived in full force, with beautiful, clear weather and temperatures in the 60s and even 70s. Outside, the Japanese plums have started to blossom, with pink petals flying everywhere in the afternoon breeze. Seattle has emerged fully from winter grey, and suddenly everything is supersaturated with color and sunlight.

Springtime also means flowers, of course!

[Anne Marie hyacinth]

Inside, things are a more confused, as I’m bubbling with creative energy but finding myself completely unable to focus. Each time I sit down and try to make something happen, it’s like there are a hundred paths to take and no way to tell which of them might be fruitful. So inevitably, when the dust clears, I’ve gotten nothing accomplished at all.

A couple days ago, feeling frustrated, I went back and read some entries from November 2002, during the last NaNoWriMo I was halfway successful at; amazingly, though I complained just as loudly then about my inability to write, I sure seemed able to churn out some fairly entertaining bits. But then, I had a clear focus & my eyes on the prize.

So! Clearly I need to set a goal and work towards it. To that end, I’m making it my immediate target to complete three short scenes of fiction (like these), before I even think about doing anything else.

If you want to suggest a topic in comments for me to write about, I’m open to that too — definitely made for fun inspiration once upon a time, too. Won’t promise to use them, but I’ll try!


Springtime always makes me think of Hopkins:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
  And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
 
And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

2005.03.16

Tea heaven!

I mentioned (in passing) Adagio Teaslink rewards program a week or two ago. Well, imagine my delight at finding a small package from them on my front porch today! My pagerank must be okay (how does one figure that out, anyway?) because what I found inside was their “5+” reward, which contains:

I haven’t tasted any of these yet — oh, but they do they smell divine! — and I promise to report back once I do. Truly, between this and my recent rooibos adventures, I’m in absolute tea heaven!

(…and wow, I guess blogging can pay!)


2005.03.17

Malaise

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This pretty much sums up my mood last night…

I’m beginning to hate that blinking text carat in Microsoft Word!

[update (2005/03/18) — so does this comic…]


2005.03.20

Seattle Public Library

Explored the new Seattle Public Library central library building today — my first time! Can’t believe it took me almost a year to get there. The building itself is amazing, playfully chaotic but totally self-consistent. You could lose yourself for hours just exploring the twisting spiral, whimsical furniture, and soaring lines before realizing you’ve forgotten to pick up a single book!

I totally recommend a visit, but in the meantime feel free to browse my flickr photoset below. You won’t get the whole, wonderful experience but hopefully it’ll whet your appetite:


 
Photoset: Seattle Public Library

In other news, flickr got bought by Yahoo! — congratulations, guys! You totally deserve it.


2005.03.25

Chrysanthemum and pi lo chun

Woke up this morning with rainbows in my eyes, and knew that today would not start out well. By ten, the migraine was in full swing, and worse than I remembered — strange flavors in my mouth and chills deep within my flesh, and oh, the pain! I felt like dying, truly.

Afternoon came and released something inside my head, and the world has since gone right again. That is, aside from a phantom aroma of chrysanthemum and pi lo chun, a small gift from my otherwise traitorous body.

There’s an air of melancholy around me lately; depressingly, though I’ve always fancied the idea of having a melancholic journal — ah, to feed on the aesthetics of failure! — I find myself completely unable to write about it.

When will I dance my sad but beautiful tango on the streets of Buenos Aires?

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2005.03.27

Krispy congee

I’ve made it clear enough that I’m no real fan of donuts, but I do happen to spend a lot of time around folks who are. So, once again dragged to Krispy Kreme, I desperately asked the nice man behind the counter whether it would be possible to get a few of the glazed originals before they were dipped in evil, sugary glaze. To my surprise, he smiled and said “sure!” With a little deft maneuvering he had rescued half a dozen from the hot oil and placed them into a box for me.

Clearly, I’ve been missing out! Not sweet at all, these, but soft, melty, doughy — they’re a bit like Chinese donuts, but neither as firm nor as salty. And that realization turned into an experiment, in which I paired the little soft rings of goodness with congee and salted vegetables.

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Verdict? Yum!

I couldn’t eat more than one-ish without feeling the same kind of ickiness I usually get with fatty foods, and I’m not sure when I’ll want to get them again, but it was a fun way to survive a trip to the donut shop!


2005.03.29

The Artist’s Way

Lightning and thunder (rare and welcome visitors) and a sudden evening episode of snow and hail combined to mark a very strange close to March. As I looked eastward from my sheltered perch, I saw a curtain of thick, damp, pink light (these very same colors you see here) nestled below the clouds, and thought of new beginnings: the promise of spring (which we’d seen more of before the vernal equinox than on any day since) and the hopeful rebirth of my own creative self.

Thanks to Miranda’s gentle prodding, I’m beginning to make my way through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. It’s a course designed to wedge free the blocks and rekindle the act of creation. I’m inclined to be skeptical, as I am with all self-help literature, but there’s an false ease in believing things will get better on their own, that desire is enough. But then I see what I would like to be and its unreachable beauty plunges me headlong into despair, and I know it’s time to open up to a new approach. I know that what I want is nothing more or less than what is promised by this book, so here I am, open, all hopeful optimism.

This morning, mmediately after waking, I picked up a pen and wrote three full pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness. Cameron requires these “morning pages” be written every day for the twelve week duration of the program, and already I know things will be difficult! I haven’t written longhand in ages, and hardly a page in, my hand started cramping up badly. Still, in the end three pages were produced, and who cares if the words aren’t legible, or if they seem to have been penned by three people with wildly different handwriting? They weren’t meant to be read, after all, and now I have this one day under my belt. I can take tomorrow as it comes.

Twelve weeks!

Am positive though that this would all be more effective with some moral support. Have I convinced anyone else to maybe join me on this road?



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