Monthly Archives: June 2005

Damn Dirty Hippie

I done did it.

Tired of the heat, the mess, the sweat, the work, I finally did it. Last Saturday I cut my hair. Say bye-bye to the long curly locks. Say bye-bye to the maintenance, to the split ends, to the knots, to the “new growth” (broken hair) that gets in underneath my glasses and into my eyes when I’m driving, bikeriding, walking, etcetera. I made my decision after days of careful consideration, and visited a nearby salon to do the deed. At $40, it looks damn good. Still kinda longish on top and faded to short on the sides and back (y’know, the typical “I used to have long hair” haircut). It now takes me five minutes to wash and condition my hair instead of the 10+ minutes previously.

After having long hair for almost 4 years, it’s just so weird reaching back and not feeling a ponytail. Yeah, weird.

When I started out back then, I was like, “yeah, there are girls out there who dig long hair on guys.” And indeed I found them: all five of them. It got me social mileage but didn’t get me much else. Now that I’m not fucking with it all the time or having to worry about whether it’s unkempt or not, I can focus on, y’know, scoring.

My one regret came when I was about to leave the salon. I had paid, gotten the cosmetologist’s card, and was about to leave when we passed her chair. I looked down and saw a 6-inch thick pile of my hair and it then hit me how much I gave up. All that work, all that time growing it, and boom it’s on the floor. I stumbled and had to pause. She consoled me and commended me on doing the right thing. So far, from the reactions from friends, I’ve done the right thing.

The next day I trimmed back my lambchops and made the split wider. That move kinda added weight to my face, but it looks more appropriate for the cut. At least for now.

And now…to lose the weight. Bike riding to work, anyone?

OMGWTFHTML

As you can obviously tell, Phaysis has gotten another facelift. This time, the design is markedly different. Previous designs were simply variations on a theme; different colors, different header logo, same layout. This time, completely different layout, colors, and everything. And I’m completely happy with the design.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading some journals of web designers and those in the information and usability biz and overall they’re starting to say some of the same things. Screen resolution of 800×600 is dead or dying. Netscape4 is dead. Internet Explorer4 is dead. So now it’s OK to design using current web standards. Now it’s OK to design using advanced techniques without fear of incompatible pageview failure. It’s OK to design using larger text. Now it’s OK to use large images in your design. Most of your audience can see it all. And if you design it right then anyone at any resolution can see it all and not suffer.

Gone are the days of 9-point text sizes — that design technique is so 2002. Gone are the days of 8-bit displays — the need for the “web safe” palette is not there anymore. It’s now just a convenience to techie designers with little eye for color. It’s now safe to use any color the designer wants, as it always has, without standing out as designing with no consideration for the lesser of us.

Browser capabilities are statistically catching up, just as actual browser brands are exponentially multiplying with each new mobile device. So you design with all this in mind; you use stylesheets to add style and layout to the html markup, and browsers can then choose to support those styles or ignore them based on their particular implementation. As long as the text gets across, you’ve won. So in the past years I’ve been designing Phaysis with that goal, trying to publish it clearly and concisely for any browser.

As a test, I looked at the site this morning on my friend’s new cellphone. The text was there, the menu was there, the journal entries were there, and everything worked. It was beautiful.

On this design, I’ve decided that placing my personal journal at the top fold of the page was the best option. I saw one designer’s page which, as a design, placed the latest entry smack-dab at the top of the page. No bones about what the page was about; it was a journal page, and here is the journal! I took that to heart and considered that even though this was a personal site with not much inside, some thinking about why people come to my site would prove beneficial to getting repeat readers. So to the top, underneath the full-size header, it went.

I placed the menu at a completely unexpected place: at the bottom right. It’s a small trend among some people, and I kinda like it. Navigation becomes a minimal part of the site, and doing so makes the reader use more attention in finding and using the navigation, slowing them down to actually look at things instead of the thoughtless clicky-clicky-clicky game. I left a vestigial link to the menu at the top for those who may be on text readers or portable devices where scrolling through pages of text might be a daunting task.

So, large header, main personal journal at the top underneath the header, the fortune cookie, redesigned and slimlined, joining the top half to the bottom half, and then the site news journal and the new “about Phaysis” box to the left, menu to the right, and a slimlined copyright footer at the bottom.

About the images in the design: I was browsing my image directories and came across some of the photos I’d taken over the early part of this spring. The set of pictures that stood out to me were a set of three that I took of a decaying wading pool at Pease Park. The fact that it was there, empty, and overgrown completely appealed to some dark corner in me, so I took the pictures. And now here they are, as hot, dusty, and oversaturated as they are, in this summertime design. I’m not sure what they say, but they’re saying it beautifully. Enjoy!

Activity Rollup #060205

To get you all caught up to speed, now that I’ve had enough time to recover, the Nine Inch Nails show last wednesday was incredible. It was hot, it was sweaty, it was dusty, it was crowded, it was steamy, the pit was angry, the band was loud, and it was everything I had hoped it would be. Since my date fell through, I sold my “date ticket” to a friend of mine for dirt cheap (the friendship discount); I sold the other two tickets for relatively cheap (I’m not greedy) to some dude from San Antonio who made a request on craigslist. Once I got all three tickets out of my hands in exchange for money, I was finally happy and able to look forward to the show. All-in-all, I spent $144 on tickets and made $210, which means I got paid to go to see NIN. I like that.

The week before the NIN show, I got free passes to see the sneak preview of Star Wars Episode 3 before the rest of the world did. I kinda have a smug attitude about it, but it’s not every week I get to do something few others have the opportunity to do. Y’know? I’m planning to see Ep3 again this weekend. On my own dime.

My boss has taken to bringing his large dog to the shop. It sits in his office all day under the a/c instead of at home where it’s just too hot to leave the little doggie outside where it can walk itself. Last week I received a delivered package and proceeded to take it to the boss’s office. As I crossed the threshhold from the hallway to the office the dog lept up, took an offensive posture, and proceeded to bark at me in a deep tone. I backed up, put the package on the shelf next to the door, gave the boss a pissed and freaked-out look, and just left. He later apologized and decided that placing a handmade sign next to the door would prevent future disaster.

My Memorial Day weekend wasn’t as grand nor as fun as I had wanted. One of my plans was to ride my bicycle as often as possible; thanks to the crappy weather (rain and storms almost every day/night) riding my bike and being out on it wasn’t such a smart idea. So I drove. Also, the allergens seem to be getting bad; every morning I woke up with headaches that don’t clear until some time after getting up. I still have the headaches. Stupid allergies. Add to that the migraine I had on sunday night and then trying to recover from it on monday.

There weren’t too many problems with the weekend itself, tho. It’s just that overall things were just bland, unexciting. Icky, if you will. Just…blah. No overarching excitement; no bonus, no rewards. Just moodiness and sticky May weather.

It appears my car has taken up the habit of smoking. I don’t know why, but it’s been getting worse over the past 4 months. It’s kinda embarrassing, y’know? I mean, I know my car has 158,000 miles on it (original engine), so some smoke should be normal, but not this much. It’s turning into one of those cars you call the DPS about to complain about the pollution. I don’t know if I’m burning oil – well, I know it’s been burning slight amounts of oil for years – but that much? I also know there’s a crack in my exhaust manifold; would that affect my emissions controls that much to make me burn a rich mixture? The smoke really isn’t so apparent until I’ve been sitting at an idle for a little bit, like at a traffic light or a drive-thru lane, and then when I step on the gas to move the smoke just billows out. It’s blue-grey and white.

I love my car; I’m used to it. It has become a part of me and my life. It is the only expensive thing I own. I don’t want to trade it in for another 3 years of car payments. Yet rebuilding or replacing the engine, though it seems like a cheaper option, might actually be the wrong thing to do considering the 12-year age of the car. I just don’t know yet. I’m planning on getting some professional advice on the matter first thing this weekend. So we’ll see.

In the meanwhile, now that the weather’s permitting, I’ve taken to riding my bike more often. Maybe outside of the car thing I can make a weekend of riding my bike. Yesterday I felt like I was having heart/chest problems — it must’ve been heartburn because I had no problem hopping on the bike after work.

My friends Ed and Melanie are expecting and tomorrow is the day. The baby (a girl) was expected last weekend but she was taking her time. Mel’s O.B. decided to induce labor this friday, so congratulations to them. I’ll see them this weekend when I visit the delivery ward at their hospital.

For what it’s worth, the Republic of Texas Biker Rally (remember me talking about that 2 years ago?) is back in town. Apparently it’s every year on the weekend after Memorial Day weekend; I had gotten confused. Maybe I’ll go downtown and look at the bikes for something to do. Or maybe I’ll go downtown and fake unconsciousness to see how many doctors leave their bikes to come resuscitate me. Who’s to know?

Ok, hope this passes for a journal update.