Friday, September 30, 2005

C at 2.25

Only the other day, IMing with a friend, I mentioned that Caroline seemed to have, sortof, kindof, and maybe, gotten over temper tantrums. I’m the superstitious type, so I added that of course she was still disagreeing with me, just not so loudly, so lengthily or at such a high pitch. These days, when she yells I say, “Use Words” and if she needs more help, I get down on the floor to look her in the eye and distract her or try to come up with some way of letting her save toddler face. “Mommie down,” she says, and it almost nearly works. All well and good and truly I find my shoulders at least an inch further from my ears than in the months of her terrible two tantrums when she once screamed for an hour before I remembered that DVDs existed and turned on Winnie the Pooh.

But now that C can rationally tell me what she wants and why, she has also remarkably progressed towards something approaching cunning. She used to insist that everything be “sama,” or by herself, but now she mostly doesn’t bother, she simply fetches her stepping stool and does what she will. This morning she decided she wanted the anchovy fish sauce from the fridge, and while I was making up the beds, she carefully poured a stripe down her table. So now most of our food has disappeared from the lower refrigerator shelves and we’re hiding any dry goods we don’t want her to reach on the top of a wardrobe that even I need a ladder to reach.

Caroline is better than a trumpetful of
Taps, because I know that if I get up after she does, she’ll have her cereal out and half poured and a tea mug sloshingly full of apple juice on the floor. She’s gone cold turkey on her crib and sleeps in what she calls her “big bed” until day break when she comes in to wake me up for milk and then climbs in to either sleep or kick the covers around until breakfast. No more baby mush for her, she likes big cereal too, so I crush it up and stir in some yogurt and she spoons obligingly away, feeding herself, her pet of the day and occasionally even me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

There are some things better left a mystery. This may seem obvious for such topics as, say, children’s poop, or the age of your favorite murder mystery sleuth by her 15th book. But sometimes you learn something, just an everyday thing, and you’re stuck. Knowing it. Forever.

I should restate. Knowing something is never my problem. Being aware, being constantly aware. That’s what gets old. And right now I am hyper aware every time I look at my computer. Which is to say, a lot of my cognizant time.

It started so innocently, with a request to redesign an application to look more friendly, less techie, something like Windows XP, but you know, not. If a client asks you to design something to look like Windows XP, you understand two things – 1) there is a lot of documentation about how you can do that, and 2) there is a lot of copyright protection out there to keep you from simply copying and pasting. Because you can’t (and nor would you of course want to) just copy and paste, the documentation is key to finding out what exactly defines the style and why it gives clients warm and fuzzy feelings.

After extensive reading and analysis, or at least a lot of Googling, I feel confident in stating that this warm and fuzzy feeling we all get when we open XP is because of the icons. This is old news, but have you every really thought about the change? No more flat icons. Hurrah for the 3D look. Everything is designed on a grid, so that your icon looks poised, ready to zoom out of its window, into the deep interior of Windows. Microsoft has even helpfully defined the drop shadow that nudges it along that 3D path (2 px by 2px and 75% though in my opinion 50% is all most icons can stand). And, okay yes to drop shadow, but no more black outlines. Instead, color. Bold and friendly colors get the thumbs up throughout (I can even send you the palette, just ask). And big, the icons have gotten bigger and they are no longer just your old 8Bit models. They’re 32 now, glad you were wondering.

So now, when I look at my screen, instead of feeling warm happy thoughts about the cute little envelopes in my Outlook window, I think "super concept icons" and consider how they follow their XP style guide, their depth, their color palette. And then I open Yahoo! and I ponder how they have interpreted that look (and is it really okay that they have their envelope tilted but not on a perspective grid?), and I click to Itunes, and to Firefox and consider some more. It's exhausting I tell you. And I worry that my own icons are going to look as derivative yet boring as Yahoo!’s do, but then I think, hell the client isn’t paying us enough to worry about being derivative yet dull. Let’s sweat the big stuff. Like you know, kids' poop. But maybe I’ll save that story for tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday, just past 5. Business done, Caroline at the park, Will at work, house clean. Not enough time to start a new project, read, call relatives, but time enough for music. And really, what else would you want to do on a perfect September Friday, when opening the windows into the light filtered by fall reminds me, and in fact recreates, that feeling from years ago when Friday and the weekend stretched out endlessly and turning on music meant I was officially finished with school/work, at least until infinity ended and Sunday arrived.

Light pouring in, headphones on, I hit play.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I’m on a roll with the Times this week, but it is just hard to pass up a story called Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood. I love a long title like that, it is so pseudo academic, only missing a colon and a quick blurb to really make it sing. What do you think of „Daddies put your wallet away: studies show..., or „From Ivy Tower to Crib Side: Many Women...“ Hmm...

Similarly pseudo, in my humble opinion, is the way that the author, Louise Story, examines her facts. Already lambasted by Jack Shafer in Slate for replacing a survey’s hard numbers with those editorial no nos “many“ and “seem,“ Story should be called to task for her truly unoriginal reading of the information that she did gather.

The basic thesis of her article is that, of the “many women“ surveyed at Elite Colleges throughout the land, “many“ declared that rather than follow a typical career path, they would “put aside their careers in favor of raising children.“

This is all fine and well as an opener into examing the current (privelaged) teenage psyche and its feelings regarding gender roles and career opportunities, but Story goes on to simply hammer this statement into the ground over and over, missing the chance to ask so many interesting questions.

My questions? Besides, “girls, who is going to be paying off those student loans?“ They aren’t exactly ready for national distribution but the gist is as follows:

1. Did you decide to go Ivy as the best way to meet the man of your (financial) dreams? Is your undeclared major MRS?

2. What happens if your MRS degree fails and you don’t meet Mr. Right and/or have children?

3. What do you perceive is a successful career track? How does this differ from what you would like to do?

4. Do you feel that you can compete more successfully off of a career track?

5. Do you believe that a successful career demands the equivalent amount of stress and effort as what it took to successfully enter and excel in your Elite College?

6. Have you ever changed a diaper or gone without sleep for weeks on end?

And finally...

7. Do you think guys are suckers for agreeing to work full time all the time, and staying at home a few years is just retribution for having to remember where the lightbulbs are, make all the phone calls, travel arrangements, and so forth? And do you really think it is that easy?

Oops, the last I should ask a few years later I guess. They are still in college after all, we don't want to shock them with reality too soon!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Grit Your Teeth Reading

Four friends thoughtfully forwarded the article. Its title – Yoga, Ya’ll– had me hitting delete, once twice etcetera (I'm not a yoga fan, and run from indiscriminant use of ya'll). Tonight though, scrolling through the NYT, enjoying insomnia and a fast internet connection but about to run out of news to read, I caught the story again, in the Times’ just launched Funny pages. After all, I like funny. I thought I'd give it a try. I just forgot how local funny can be.

“Yoga, Ya’ll,” by Elizabeth Gilbert, is all about a southern yoga class and its vowel-extending instructor. The writer objects to the instructor’s accent, mocks her use of ya’ll and her yoga abilities. One thousand words later, she winds up her tribute to alienation with an obligatory I’ll-get-used-to-it-somehow ending that leaves you thinking, yeah right.

It’s a story that goes in my bookmarks folder “I don’t hate it, I don't, but everyone else seems to.” And it once again confirms to me how prejudiced New Yorkers can be about the South. I’m not talking cab drivers, fruit stand owners, investment brokers, but editors and writers who talk so reasonably about the eight sides of every issue, but when faced with the states beneath the Mason-Dixon line start to worry about being made to squeal like a pig, imagine violet romances, or mock the stupidity of the locals.

I notice it particularly with the Times. They seem to thrive on writing about the South in this quaint yet scary country within a country sort of way (noticeable throughout its coverage of Katrina). I have to wonder what a certain Alabamian editor did to the staff* during his recent sojourn as executive editor because he certainly didn’t expand their perspectives on the possibilities of how to write about a part of the U.S. I’ve seen referred to in their pages in the last two days as Dixie and the Ya’ll Zone. To me this is the equivalent of newscasters calling the midwest the land of white bread, or California, hippieville. It's just not the right thing to do in a national newspaper and I have to wonder why the South falls outside their editorial realm of respect.

*It’s easy to imagine force feedings of ketchup-based barbeque, the maniacal over use of idioms designed to annoy, straw hats and white shoes, long lectures on legendary football coaches. Reading up on the fellow, I found at least two of these traits well-documented. Any bets on which ones, ya'll (or should I say youse guys)?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Caroline jumped! Both feet off the ground and all.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

With children, good and bad days are not hard to tell apart. Yesterday Caroline woke up crying, and she fussed all day. Today she woke up happy and pretty much stayed that way, despite a brief dip into sorrow when her nap ended too early (OH NO I heard from her room as she groaned in disbelief that she was awake). She could only be consoled by watching tv while sitting with my arms wrapped around her just right. I was supposed to be making a salad for dinner tonight, but when she asks me so clearly to hold onto her, I can’t resist.

I’m going to Bratislava tomorrow and I wanted to sing as many songs for her as I could, kiss her on the cheek as many times as I could sneak in. Tonight she went to bed tired after playing with friends all day, but she held onto my hand through the crib bars and asked me to sing for her just one more. Sing “Liddle boydee” she commanded. Sing “Sleep sleep”. She turned her face to look up into mine as I sang. My voice wasn’t very strong as I was singing while bent double over a crib railing, but she didn’t seem to mind, and joined in for both songs until the end, when I said, “night night baby, love you” and she said “wuv you” and turned to sleep.