June 2005

Ta da!

by DaniGirl on June 30, 2005 · 25 comments

in Uncategorized

So, what do you think? Okay for a first draft? Can you even see the new banner?

After your incredibly sweet comments yesterday, you got me to thinking. Blog is pretty much an accounting of my life in progress, right? Not an after-the-fact memoir, but a live and in real time before your eyes kind of thing. So it seems only fitting that you get to watch the evolution of blog in real time, too.

I’m a little self-conscious. I have visions of you looking at the banner and thinking to yourself, “You worked all day and that’s all you came up with?” Hey, it’s all about learning, right? And did I mention 179 fonts to choose from? Do you realize how long it takes just to look at 179 fonts? A LONG time!

It’s not exactly what I had pictured when I started out, but it’s not a bad start. I’d like to clean up the ink-spot images, especially the blue one. It got a little distorted when I resized it. And do those footprints look like baby footprints to you? That was the idea, but I’m not sure it worked. I’m going to box in the text, I think, and maybe add another colour – maybe orange or a cranberry red?

I know only 5 to 10 per cent of you who come here comment with any regularity, but I’d love it if you could drop me a note in the comments to tell me whether you can see the new banner or not. You don’t have to critique it – I would just like to know whether the majority of people can see it or not, and whether it significantly impedes the loading or viewing of blog. Of course, your comments on the aethestic aspects are more than welcome as well.

I promise we’ll return to our regular drivel soon…

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Beloved and I have been chatting up the germ of an idea for a blog banner for a couple of weeks. Finally, the one day this week that I’m home (on vacation – hooray!) and the wee beasties are with the daycare provider, I can ignore the clutter and the weeds and whatnot and just indulge in a couple of uninterrupted hours in front of the computer. Ah, guilty pleasure!

The thing is, none of these design programs are intuitive. There’s layers and selecting and transforming and in front of and behind and it’s really all quite annoying. What I could do in 10 minutes with a piece of paper and a magic marker I couldn’t do in six hours glued to the keyboard.

It would have probably gone a lot faster, except I was drowning in decisions. Do you know we have 179 fonts installed on our computer? No exaggeration, one hundred and seventy nine fonts. It took me an hour just to decide between “ale and wenches”, “swingset” and “bottix”. And colours… oh, the colours. If someone could just narrow things down to what’s in an 8-pack of Crayolas, it have taken me about half the time.

Finally, we get something reasonably close to what I had envisioned. Not quite there, but close. After SIX HOURS! Did I mention I have the attention span of a hummingbird? And I try to post it on Blogger, thinking with my albeit rudimentary knowledge of CSS and HTML, I should be able to figure it out. You need an image tag and somewhere to host your source – simple as that.

Apparently not.

(You think this story is excruciatingly long in the telling, you should have been here in real time!)

After another hour of mucking about in the Blogger template, I resorted to a public plea for assistance, and the effulgent Troy, whom you should admire not only for his extensive vocabulary and rapier wit but for his ability to translate HTML into dippy chick, was quick to come to my rescue. Lo and behold, it worked! Ta da!!!

(Waiting for you to scroll up and make sure that the header is the same old boring header it was yesterday and every day before that. Sighing heavily.)

So why, WHY are computers so evil? I happened to be on the laptop when I plugged in Troy’s extra-simple and easy to understand solution, and it worked fine. I was so excited I came right downstairs to our main computer, the only one with Photoshop, to tweak and improve my banner before the big reveal. I opened my practice template and – nothing. I can see it on the laptop, but not on the other computer. I have the same problem with a bunch of my favourite blogs: Ann’s, Troy’s, Ella’s… the really cool banners just don’t display reliably.

So really, do I want to spend any more time working on this when it’s not going to display properly on my own damn computer, let alone how it might look to you? Really, is there anything more annoying on god’s green earth than computers?

To add insult to injury, my darling ÜberGeek, who has also been incredibly patient in offering tech support to the clueless, told me that blog has been crashing his browser since I installed my fancy-ass Flickr badge on Friday.

So screw it. I’m a word kind of chick. Blog is about words, not pictures. You want pretty pictures, go find somebody else’s blog. (And if you come back tomorrow after reading this self-indulgent whine, you’re a true friend indeed!)

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Internet, I need your help!

by DaniGirl on June 28, 2005 · 1 comment

in Uncategorized

I have spent almost an entire day of my vacation playing with the damn computer. Not an entirely bad thing, because I think it is somewhere around 57 degrees centrigrade outside, and I am huddled in the relatively cool basement with my sexy husband. (I am dictating, he is typing. Could you tell?)

Ahem (wrenching control of the keyboard) – as I was saying… We’ve spent the better part of the day playing with Photoshop, and have come up with a relatively cute little banner for blog. But, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to post it. I’ve played in the CSS of the existing template a bit, but honestly thought it would be as easy as an IMG tag. Apparently not. I’ve studied some of the CSS on blogs in my Blogroll, but don’t quite get it.

Is there an easy answer for this? I just want to use the existing template for now and instead of the header at the top, I want my banner to appear. I can host the image on server space from my cable Internet provider, but when I just key in the image tag with that addy, nothing happens. Do I have to build a little CSS script to define the banner space and centre it and point to the image or something? Also, if you are giving free advice, how do I include images in between my posts and/or change my sidebar headers to images I will design in some future year when the boys go off to college.

If I need to teach myself more about CSS I will, but I’d prefer a quick fix!


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The one where I just start typing

by DaniGirl on June 28, 2005 · 9 comments

in Uncategorized

I have no idea what I’m going to say today. As if this whole vacation thing weren’t messing with my routine enough as it is, we had a power outage last night from 6:30 pm to somewhere around 3:30 in the morning. And this morning, my little natives are absolutely insane. I’m cloistered in the basement with the computer, trying not to listen as they screech and thunder around the house like a herd of rabid hippos.

One of the benefits of last night’s blackout was that I got to sit on the back deck in the dying light of a spectacular day, trying to position my book to catch the last rays of visible light before having to go into the house and actually make conversation with Beloved. (Oh TV, how I missed your glowing face!) And while out on the back deck, I was blessed to hear in excruciating detail the innermost thoughts of the 15 year old next door and a few of his friends. Actually, I think I could have been four blocks over and still heard every detail. Apparently neither three year olds nor 15 year olds get the concept of ‘inside’ voices.

Also, the 15 year olds take just about as long as my three year old to tell a story, because every single noun has to be modified by the word “fucking”. Verbs, too. Versatile word, that “fucking”. Now, I have been accused of having a bit of a potty mouth at times, but for the love of Christ at the very least they could mix up their curses just a little bit. Show some variety. Please.

I don’t envy the woman who is this boy’s mother. In addition to him, she has an 11 year old girl and a nine year old boy and she’s recently divorced. The younger kids are sweet enough, and they like to play with my boys at the playground or in the driveway on occasion, but the oldest boy is obviously out of control. I could handle the music blaring through the walls at all hours, the smoke from the backyard that drifts into our windows, and the groups of extremely noisy teens who hang around in our shared driveway at the strangest hours… hey, I was a good kid, but we still got into trouble and I remember what it was like to be that age. But I’ve caught them doing some spectacularly stupid stuff, like standing on the end of our shared driveway and pitching beer bottles into the park across the street – the park where my kids play. And when I turned into one of those suburban mothers and came bellowing out of the house after seeing that, I woke up the next morning to see my car covered in gobs of spit. I’m just glad they didn’t take it into their heads to key the paint.

Last Saturday morning, the neighbour on the other side woke to find the downspout from her eavestrough bent and crushed, and the neighbour on the other side said she’d heard a commotion in the middle of the night and looked out to see a young man with a baseball bat smashing the hell out of it – for no discernable reason. He was part of a group of teenagers coming in and out of – guess which house? I noticed some suspiciously bat-sized dents in their garage door the next day, too.

There’s not much I can do about all this except hope he doesn’t do something incredibly stupid that puts us all at risk – like leaving a cigarette or a candle burning. I certainly don’t want to become the focus for his wrath. They just bought the house and moved in last summer, so I’m guessing they aren’t going anywhere too soon, and I’m certainly not moving, so I guess we have to live side by side and stay out of each other’s way.

Any thoughts for improving the situation, oh wise bloggy friends? Or do you have a neighbours from hell story that would make me drop to my knees and thank god for the delinquent next door?


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Monday Meme-ing

by DaniGirl on June 27, 2005 · 7 comments

in Uncategorized

Another meme!

Troy, the Percipent Scribe, has thrown down a gauntlet I can’t refuse. (Funny how the phrase “throw down the gauntlet” has survived so much longer than actual gauntlets, isn’t it? Not terribly practical, those gauntlets. Not that this has anything to do with Troy. He’s not obsolete yet.) He’s tagged me with the ubiquitous book meme, and I couldn’t resist.

Number of books I own: A lot! I hoard a lot of things, but I hoard books above all else. And I married a book hoarder. Really, we shouldn’t be allowed to breed, us mutual book hoarders, because there just isn’t enough space in the house. I have no idea how many books we have, but there are five bookcases I can think of, plus happy piles of paperbacks and magazines everywhere, and I think another box or two of books tucked in my bedroom closet since we moved two years ago. And another box of paperbacks in the garage that didn’t sell at the garage sale last summer but that I am now re-thinking discarding because who knows, I might want to re-read them some day even if they are trashy. A lot of books.

Last book I bought: um… thinking… thinking… hmph. Been a long time since I bought a book. Between the library’s wonderful online reservation queue and the steady diet of pulp paperbacks from my mother (she reads at least one a week), I’m sure it’s been six months since I bought a book for myself. Most likely, the last thing I bought was for the boys, probably a Sandra Boynton or maybe something with Bob the Builder.

Last book I read: Finished Stephen King’s On Writing yesterday. Excellent!

Five books that mean a lot to me: Crap, this is hard. Authors would be easier than books, but let’s give it a try.

1. Contact by Carl Sagan: I went to a Catholic high school, and during our Grade 13 grad mass, my history teacher who happened to be an Oblate priest talked about this book in his sermon, and the first summer I lived out here (1988) I bought it. I have it in paperback, hardcover, unabridged audio book on CD and a VHS copy of the movie. I simply adore this book. I love the examination of the relationship between science and religion, but I also think it’s just a really great story. The movie is not bad but the book is amazing.

2. Generation X by Douglas Coupland: I credit this book as one of the forces that gave me enough courage to shake off my unhealthy marriage and set off to find a better me. It opened my mind to the fact that I was way too young to be cloistered from the world in a marriage that was doing me more harm than good. Every book of Coupland’s does that to me – connects startlingly with my inner self, the self that I lose in the minutia of daily life. (I once went to a reading by Douglas Coupland at the national library, I think it was when Life After God came out. I met an old friend in the queue to get our books autographed, and he inscribed my friend’s book, “Tom, thanks for helping me knock over that 7-11. Your pal, Doug.” If by some fluke of the universe I am ever in a position to be autographing my books for people, I plan to be that kind of quirky.)

3. Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro: Really, this could be any of Alice Munro’s books, but I list this one because I so clearly remember ‘discovering’ Alice Munro in Grade 9 through the short story “An Ounce of Cure” from this collection. I was fascinated by this story because it was about someone young like me but not written with the cloying simplicity or condescention prevalent in most stories about young people. I have also loved Alice Munro for decades because her stories are often set in the southern Ontario that is the geographic backdrop of my childhood. Her writing resonates with me on more levels than I can explain.

4. An Acre of Time by Phil Jenkins: I was in the car one day, just pulling into the mall parking lot, listening to a discussion about this book on CBC radio and I was so intrigued I went straight to the bookstore and bought it. It’s – well, it’s incredibly hard to describe, but it’s a book about an acre of land just a mile or two west of the Parliament Buildings here in Ottawa. It discusses the physical history of this land, from Pangea to the bottom of the Champlain Sea to the natives to the first French explorers and courriers du bois (phew, worked in some French for Troy!) to the working class families who settled there when Ottawa was a hard-core lumber town to the great fire of 1902 (?) to the expropriation of those workers’ homes to build a grand boulevard leading to the Parliament Buildings in the 1960s to an empty and abandoned acre of grassland in the heart of the city. It’s a geographical, political, sociological and anthropological (among other things) history of Ottawa as seen through the prism of this single acre of land. If you’re in the least interested in the history of Ottawa or even Canada, it’s a great read and very unique.

5. Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella : Actually, any of the baseball stories by WP Kinsella will do. I also loved The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and Box Socials. I have a thing for magic realism (see Alice Munro reference above) and quirky characters, and Kinsella’s work is filled with both. Kinsella captures a sense wonder and innocence, weaves it together with baseball folklore, and bastes it with gentle humour. His books are emotional comfort food.

Phew, that was almost as many words as I have books! This is a bit of an onerous task, but I love to see what books other people hold sacred, so I will gently tap on the shoulder a few souls and politely ask them if they would like to play. No pressure, but consider yourself invited if you’ve got nothing better to do.

Let’s see, how about Ann, Cooper, Mommy-Abroad, Andrea and YOU! (Yep, leaving this one open to pretty much anyone who wants to play. What can I say, I’m feeling inclusive today.)

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Like so much in technology and the rest of my life, I am wondering why I waited so long. I have discovered Flickr, and it is good.

Check out my funky little Flickr photo badge over there —>
in the sidebar. Scroll down, it’s under the Blogroll. What do you think? Pretty cool, eh? You can click on it to see the photos, and you can comment on them or tag them… so much more than I am currently doing, which is just posting them in an album. I’m on vacation this week, so hopefully I can play around with it and learn a bit more about it. Anything is better than using the excrutiating Hello to post photos to Blogger.

Happy weekend!

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Hair today

24 June 2005 Uncategorized

To borrow a phrase from the inimitable Jen at MUBAR, today we swim in the shallow end of the pool. I’m going to get my hair cut today. As I mentioned before, I spend a lot of money on haircuts. Well, it seems like a lot of money to me. Enough that I try to […]

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You can quote me on that

23 June 2005 Uncategorized

On Tuesday, the American Film Institute came out with their list of the top 100 movie quotes of all time. I read through them, and while there were a few smiles and nods and “Yah, I loved that movie” warm fuzzies, for the most part their choices left me kind of flat. Where are the […]

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Decisions

22 June 2005 Uncategorized

How do you make decisions? Big decisions, I mean. It’s true, I have a lot of trouble with little decisions, like what to have for dinner every damn day (a blog for another day) and what to wear and whether to choose the Berrylicious or the Summer Bronze gloss. But if I have trouble with […]

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Downtown in the capital

21 June 2005 Life in Ottawa

I work downtown in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. In the summertime, it’s a lovely place to work. In the wintertime, it’s as cold and miserable as the rest of the city and I will lament the horrors of winter in Ottawa when the time is right. But now, on this first official day of summer […]

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