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exhalations
Thursday, February 28, 2002
  
Wanted to check out wowwebdesigns.com, which was referenced on slashdot.com yesterday, but they appear to have been slashdoted. The site is said to "showcase virtually 'the best of the web' in design and creativity", but the site can't handle the traffic generated by the link from slashdot.

I hate it when I ride to work, lock my bike, then realize I don't have my bike lock key. Walking with spd cleats isn't fun, although it could be worse. That's one reason I don't use Look pedals.


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Monday, February 25, 2002
  
Work keeps getting in the way of posting to this blog. Spent a good weekend in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. Stayed at the Canaan Valley Resort State Park. The place needs a little work; it reminds me of a 25 year old Econo Lodge. There has been almost no snow in the Canaan Valley this year, but we decided to keep our reservation and see what we would find. The area gets more snow than anywhere else in this part of the Mid-Atlantic, but not this year. White Grass Cross Country Touring Center had a little snow, enough for a lesson and to ski for a couple of hours. There was snow in their snow farm, where they have put up snow fences that trap snow. There was just enough for about a 3-4" base of icy snow.

We checked out the place on Friday and stayed for a great dinner. Any place that has two entrees, one of which is vegetarian, ranks high on my list. And the entrees were very good. It's the kind of funky place that doesn't exist around here and that I truly miss.

We had lunch one day in Davis, at Sirianni's Caf. They make a wide selection of good pizzas. We also checked out Blackwater Falls State Park which has an extensive set of trails for cross-country skiing, hiking, and a few for mountain biking. Some of the best mountain biking country that I've seen is adjacent to the park in the Monongahela National Forest. Guess we'll have to return to check it out.

The one downside to Canaan Valley is the harrowing drive to get there along the main highways of West Virginia. There are no straight roads and nearly everyone feels compelled to exceed the absurdly fast 55 mph speed limit, especially the dump trucks. I've never felt so glad to be back in Virginia.


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Wednesday, February 20, 2002
  
I kind of miss the old little green footballs weblog. Charles has been writing about terrorism and the war since Sept. 11, and I find now that I don't read it much. I've been reading Scott Andrew's blog and Zeldman and of course slashdot, the light version. Haven't had much time to read lately given the new job. And since I've been feeling like I don't know what the hell I'm doing, I do read, but it's mostly very dry technical specs.

This is one of those periods that I usually try to avoid, in which I'm a little in over my head and need to scramble to keep up. It's usually the only way I really learn or change, and I'm usually glad I put myself in the situation. We'll see.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2002
  
Heard some good jazz at the Market Street Bar & Grill on Sunday. The Mykle Lyons Jazz Band performs there on the weekends. They are a piano trio, also known as Three for All, and various horn players often sit in. Too bad this is one of the many local bars that allow cigar smoking. It would be nice if bars had smoke-free nights now and then.


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Now that I've got a laptop, I'll need to get a Step Charger to charge the batteries while walking.

Balmy winter weather continues. Got out for another long bike ride on the trail this weekend. Stopped to help a woman whose chain had broken. She was surprised that I carried a chain tool. We were close to town, but I wonder what she does when she's out in the boonies and a chain breaks. Guess people carry their cell phones for that purpose.


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Friday, February 15, 2002
  
Spending more time commuting than working these days. At least by taking public transit, it's possible to spend some of that time productively.

The Daily CSS fun continues...

How to design pedestrian facilities. The real trick is finding the money to fund them. It usually takes a pedestrian death or two to get people to think seriously about the problem.

I would love to see this show of paintings by Gerhard Richter at the MOMA. I like the MOMA site, it's fast, simple and attractive. There is a major problem though; in order to return to the homepage one must scroll to the bottom of the page and click on either MOMO or Menu (it changes depending on where you are located) to get there.


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Tuesday, February 12, 2002
  
Scott Andrew's defense of Gene Simmons' behavior during the Terry Gross interview on Fresh Air is almost comical. I don't think Terry does "joke" interviews, and I thought the question about the makeup making Simmons' skin break out was one of her funnier questions. She had little hope of getting real answers to legitimate questions, so she fired away. Good for her. Let's have a little respect for Terry Gross, the best interviewer on NPR or anywhere else for that matter.


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Monday, February 11, 2002
  
Rode again this weekend on a balmy, sunny Saturday. The trail was packed once again.


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Two pedestrians were killed in Reston on the same day last week. Once again the motorist was presumed to be innocent before the investigation was completed (speed did not appear to be a factor; pedestrian was not in a crosswalk). And now that the investigation is over, the police are saying that the pedestrian was at fault.

I'm tired of hearing that speed wasn't a factor; the speed limit on the road is 25 mph, and yet the pedestrian was hit and flung up into the windshield and smashed the windshield. The problem is that even if the car was going nearly 10 mph over the limit, the police won't find fault because it will be too hard to prosecute. Now the speed limit can be considered to be at least 10 mph over the posted limit since most motorists know that they won't be ticketed. Thanks to all you traffic lawyers out there...


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Friday, February 08, 2002
  
While reading Neil Gaiman's web log one of his readers congratulated him on having kept the log for over a year. He was surprised it had been that long. Then I realized that it had probably been that long for me, and sure enough, my first entry was on December 20, 2000. I am finding that I write much less in my analog journal these days. The good part is that I can now search for some trivia I might have mentioned without sort of randomly rifling through my old paper journal entries. Now I can use the search function.

Attended the life drawing session last night. I'm out of practice and it shows. The session was enjoyable, and I was able to get into it after a while, concentrating very hard and really seeing the model, or better the shape of the model, a very muscular male model.


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Wednesday, February 06, 2002
  
After the previous post, I was reading Dan Bricklin's blog and happened across his review of the WordSmith word processor for the Palm. Along with the Stowaway keyboard, it seems like a good alternative to a laptop for many word processing tasks. Plus it is much less intrusive and quieter for taking notes in meetings. Maybe I'll try to pick up one of the basic Palms on ebay.


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Yes, I would like one of these tiny computers. It's unfortunate that manufacturers haven't really changed the dimensions and weight of the laptop over the past few years. Why not make a good, basic, very lightweight and small computer instead of keeping the same basic form factor and continuing to add disk space and processor speed, etc. Sure the laptop computers on the market today are much more powerful than those available a few years back, but they look and feel almost exactly the same. The tiny IBM prototype referred to above is the right idea, but it won't go into production for a couple of years.

There are a few subnotebook computers on the market, but they are mostly only available in Japan, and they still cost too much. Guess I'm waiting for a Palm or PocketPC that is a little bigger and comes with a keyboard and bigger screen.


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Tuesday, February 05, 2002
  
The new, improved IE6 has crashed 3 times in the past 2 days. I'm glad to hear that Microsoft is rumored to have stopped production of new code for the month of February to fix known bugs.


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It's intesting to see what can by done by tweaking the parameters of an all-CSS web page. Chris Casciano is modifying his page design daily this month just for yuks.


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Monday, February 04, 2002
  
Don't leave home without your cotter pins - Decided to take a break from work to do some midday grocery shopping with my trusty BOB trailer. After loading up the trail and panniers with groceries, I started to pedal way and something wasn't right. Without the cotter pins, the trailer clamp came undone and I was listing to one side. After resetting the clamps, I walked the bike and trailer over to the Performance bike shop nearby. Luckily they have a good mechanic who cut up a spoke to use for replacement cotter pins, and I made it home without the trailer flying off. One pin did pop out on the way, so I gingerly rode the rest of the way home. Guess I need to stash some spare pins in one of the pannier pockets.

I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl, probably the only complete football game I watched all year. Especially enjoyed U2's halftime show, an unexpected treat.


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I spoke too soon about system freezing when viewing certain pages. It's such an erratic problem, that it worked when I tested it yesterday, but the same problem occurred today. Still have no idea what is causing the problem.

Rode about 20 miles yesterday and it was windy and cold. On the return trip, I never did get warm. It's a fine line between being overdressed and hot and sweaty, and freezing. On the return trip we had the wind at our backs so we didn't work very hard and didn't generate enough internal heat.


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Saturday, February 02, 2002
  
Just discovered one major benefit of using IE6. My system no longer freezes when viewing sites like Fairfaxcounty.gov, or camworld, or several others. Never could figure out why it happened, and it happened on every browser I have ever tried except IE6. I'm hoping the problem is solved.


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Upgraded to IE 6.0.2600 today. Interesting that it requires restarting TWICE. I'm still gunshy about upgrading browsers, remembering the days when doing so with the early Netscape browser destroyed all personal settings and bookmarks.


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Want to read about this dual monitor PC by Panasonic, but it must have been slashdoted, since I keep getting errors. I'll keep the reference here for my future use.


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Generally feeling good about the decision to return to doing GIS related work. Ideas are flowing and I seem to be more motivated to pursue other activities such as drawing and meditating. When I had such an open schedule, it was so easy to "waste" time, although it always felt productive and educational. Now I'm trying to focus what little spare time I have.

This is often the case with me when starting a new class, job, project. On the flip side, reality usually takes over when the deadlines hit and I realize the difficulty of the task at hand. Guess that's what motivates many of us; external pressure.


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Friday, February 01, 2002
  
The Stow Wengenroth collection is now complete, now that I have Making a Lithograph from interlibrary loan. Don't really know what possessed me to pursue his books of and on lithography; it's somehow a primal attraction to his beautifully shaded black and white prints and drawings.

Spending way too much time driving on local highways to get to multiple job sites. My goal of having more miles on my bikes than car will be hard to attain at this rate. Gonna have to hop on Metro in the future, and get some reading and resting done on the way to/from work.


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