Chattering Magpie Past Web Log
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October 2001
October 31 2001
No tricks no treats.
It's a pretty quiet night this Hallowe'en. So far I've only had three very enthusiastic trick-or-treaters. None of them recognized my elaborate pumpkin carving of The Tick. But I do have a nice roaring fire, thanks to the wood E split this last weekend.

Hot dog! Just had a few more trick-or-treaters. Almost didn't hear them from the back room. It's a nice night for it, not rainy, not cold.

October 30 2001
Fall back.
By now everyone should have all their clocks set back. When I was growing up, you had the one clock in the kitchen, maybe a fancy one on the fireplace mantle and your alarm clock, as well as your wrist watch. Now there's a clock on the microwave, the VCR, the cell phone, the PDA, the computer, the car radio. Why should I bother with a wristwatch?

Happy Birthday, Carol!

October 25 2001
Which is faster, heat or cold?*
For two weeks now E has had the nasty cold that's been going around. It's knocked some people in my office out for a day. I got the very littlest bit of it early this week, but it withered under my usual acidic response: ascorbic and tannic. I've been taking large doses of vitamin C and drinking a lot of red wine. Take any (barely) drinkable red with lots of tannins (e.g. Cab Sauv), pour into a cup, add a bit of ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves if you can find them in your spice cabinet (I can't), honey and a stick of cinnamon. Heat in microwave until good & hot. Mmmm, E-Z mulled wine. It's medicinal!

By the way, is anyone else creeped out by the name "Homeland Security"? Doesn't it sound kind of 1984? Maybe a little too Deutschland Deutschland Über Alles?

*Answer: Heat, because you can catch a cold. An old, old joke.

October 20 2001
Victory on two fronts.
For once I'm not going on about the war situation (I'll get to that later).

I have done battle with Netscape 4.X and have won. I figure out what in my code was giving it conniption fits and fixed it and it works. I shouldn't crow too loudly because it was a problem of my own making. But everything is okay now and new/improved Purple Mountain for Kids and Purple Mountain for Teachers should be available later today or tomorrow.

My other big victory was in a war of attrition with the lavender-grey cardigan I've been working on since last Christmas(!). Finally finished the final sleeve. Which in a relaxed state is about two inches shorter than the other. In comes the miracle of blocking, deus ex machina, to fix everything. I will not knit another stitch on that sweater.

I said I'd get to the war situation. I was thinking it's a funny world. In WWII Americans were urged to save and conserve. Is this trip necessary? Now it's buy buy buy American. Keep the economy rolling. The thing that bothers me is I believe our consumer culture has led indirectly to the current situation. Consume consume consume resources from around the world makes other parts of the world America's interests. Maybe if we didn't use so much oil products we wouldn't have to be quite so involved in the Middle East. Of course, without selling oil to oil refiners (who are international entities) countries in the Middle East might be worse off economically. But that wouldn't be our problem, then would it?

October 18 2001
Gall's well that ends well.
My father-in-law had his gall bladder removed yesterday, home from the hospital today. That should take care of the discomfort he's had from tiny gallstones for the last few years. Finally. I saw him last night and he was feeling good, but tired.

I've been drinking more than usual lately. Of course, for me, none is "usual", so one is "more than usual." Had a couple lunches out this week with martinis. And a shot of vodka when I get home from work is pretty nice, too.

As much as I'd like to completely ignore the existence of Netscape 4.X, I have to accept that a lot of teachers are still using it. So I have to figure out what to do to make our websites look respectable. Rebecca has given some good suggestions for starting points with that fun little task. Why can't life be simple? Why can't everyone just use the same browser? Why, people? Why?

October 13 2001
Re-organizing.
We have finally moved the computer from the kitchen table to the back room. Now we have our kitchen table back (or will, as soon as I clean it off of the remaining accumulation of papers and whatnot).

Purple Mountain for Kids and Purple Mountain for Teachers have finally gone live. E-mail me if you see anything glaringly wrong that needs to be fixed. Or if you think they're wonderful. Or if you have suggestions for making them more user-friendly. As long as you don't look at them with Netscape 4.X, everything should be fine. And if you have any suggestions for making them work in NS4.X, I would kiss your feet. (I'm thinking pre-loading images would be a real good thing, for a number of reasons.)

October 10 2001
Netscape 4.7 must die.
Netscape 4.7 is busting my cojones. It's killing me. It's doing evil things to the layout of the pages I'm building at work. It stacks graphics on top of each other. It ignores the table layout specifications I've made.

On the lighter side, I've been immensely enjoying Love Cruise: 16 sexy singles vie to be the final couple on board a Windjammer sailing ship, winning $200,000 and a romantic trip around the world. It's a little "Survivor" soap opera with better eye candy. And everyone's so-o-o-o sincere.

October 7 2001
War.
Well, this is it. We've deployed a military operation in Afghanistan, designed to locate and capture Osama bin Laden, starting by crippling Taliban training camps. I've been half listening to NPR all day. It will be interesting to watch, to say the least.

This is the short-term response and I'm not sorry to see it come about. The U.S. government is going about this as astutely as it can. It seems we are incorporating the hard-won lessons of both Vietnam and the Russian experience in Afghanistan. At the same time we are acting to "win the hearts and minds of the people" with food aid. I just hope that the food aid is done in a culturally sensitive manner. Maybe that sounds PC, but it should be remembered that beneficence can engender resentment as easily as it can gratitude.

I've been reading essays in the paper in reaction to calls for understanding terrorism's root causes. For some people the root cause is simple: evil. Osama bin Laden is evil and he hates America. What's to understand? Well, bin Laden is not doing this all by himself. He didn't fly those airplanes into the World Trade Center. He has help.

Some peole are comparing bin Laden to Hitler, in terms of his clarity of purpose and determination to achieve his goals. I ask this: would Hitler have rose to a position of power if Germany had not been devastated by World War I and emasculated by the subsequent Versailles Treaty? Or would the the National Socialist party have remained an extremist group on the fringe of German politics?

It's too simplistic to just write off bin Laden as evil. That may be true, but one evil man alone cannot wage a campaign of terror. This is not happening in a socio-political vacuum.

It is not anti-American or defeatist to suggest that American foreign policy may have been a significant factor leading up to the current state of affairs, it is hopeful: it means our country can take positive action to diminish the opportunities for terrorism in the future, here and around the world. If we ascribe all power & responsibility to the terrorists, we only tie our own hands. This country is about doing, not about whining that it's not our fault, we can't do anything about it.

October 6 2001
The devil in the details.
I've spent all day fine-tuning the site, both graphics & layout. I hope you can tell. I'm especially pleased about dealing with the annoyances caused by older versions of Netscape. More improvements will be forthcoming. No promises on when, though.

Now that the Max goes all the way out to Hillsboro, it's no longer such a big chore to take the car out to the Saturn in Beaverton. Taking light rail is so much nicer than the bus: it's smoother, quieter, and no annoying exhaust. Although I have learned to not ride the train backwards.

October 3 2001
A new look.
Yup, finally did that re-design I've been thinking about. Let me know what you think. I'll likely continue to tinker with type for awhile. And if you've got good magpie photos, send 'em on in!

Been very busy at work, so close to finishing the first phase of web sites, we can taste it.

Leslie and I took a very nice walk this evening in Willamette park, catching up with each others' lives.