Archive for February, 2007

Moving Day In Arizona

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

The wonders of “linksys” (which happens to be America’s most popular Internet service provider) allows me to post this from within the walls of my home before I have had the time to find my cable modem and WiFi router.

Yesterday we finally got the keys to our new home! We went over and picked up our Uhaul truck first. The place we got it from was the only place in the area that had the right truck available for the right time period. The place is a dingy tire shop that just started renting out Uhaul trucks. They didn’t have their system hooked up to fast enough Internet access to run the Uhaul computer system, they did everything on paper. It was kind of uncomfortable in there because he didn’t know exactly what he was doing, and it was a filthy, greasy, tire-filled mess.

After we got the truck we emptied out all the stuff we could pick up by ourselves from the storage unit and loaded it into the truck. That night we were able to move half of it into our new house. We slept on the floor since our mattress was still all the way at the back of the storage unit. We got up early and started moving stuff again. By the time the first people started showing up to help us move we had already moved almost everything from the truck and were ready to go get the furniture out of the storage unit.

40 minutes later and everything had been moved into our new place. Now there are mountains of boxes that need to be sifted through and furniture that needs to be placed. Krissy is excited to get started on projects around the house. She is the hardest working person I know.

Nothing Gets out Chocolate… See?

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Police Chief Wiggum explained to Lisa that nothing gets chocolate out, then he motioned to the large brown stain on the front of his police pants to prove his point. Now I have a pair of pants of my very own that can be used to illustrate that same principle. I won’t blame anyone for the mishap. Wendy’s frosties are mighty tasty, but you need to be careful when you put an empty frosty cup on the top of a fast food bag that’s completely full of trash. You need to be especially careful when that bag has a small tear at the top and the empty frosty cup has a spoon in it causing the empty frosty cup to lean against the torn part of the bag. The most unfortunate things can happen when driving over speed bumps, so watch out for those as well. When all of these circumstances come together it’s curtains for your pants… See?

Shawn got chocolate on his pants.

McFundraiser Draws Huge McCrowd

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Tragedy struck in the life of a school librarian close to where Krissy and I are staying. To help her out with her sudden serious financial difficulties a fund raiser was organized at the nearest McDonald’s fast food restaurant. All of the money that was paid for food was to be donated to her, and there were large tip jars on the counters where additional money could be given. We don’t know her, but our hosts who are putting us up until escrow closes on our house do, so we thought we would go along and help out for a good cause.

There were more people in this one McDonald’s than I have ever seen at a fast food place at one time in my life! The line to order stretched out the door and down one side of the building. It looked like a number of school faculty and staff were there helping take orders and get them distributed as the food was done. I ordered more McDonald’s food tonight than I have in the last year! I didn’t end up eating it all, but I figured that since I was really just there to donate money, I may as well get something interesting out of it.

I don’t know if the woman we were there to help out was present or not, but I hope she knows just how many friends she has in this community. Apparently part of the tragedy she has had to endure involved her husband having committed suicide primarily due to huge online gambling debt. It appears that she was left holding the bag, completely unaware of his out of control habit. Let’s hope that the money raised tonight lets her at least not have to worry about debts quite so much, and that she can find some semblance of peace.

Large crowd at McDonalds

Enlightening Encounter with E.T.

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Today I attended a seminar held by Edward Tufte. Edward Tufte, or E.T. as he refers to himself, is the foremost authority on representing data and charting information. He practices what he preaches in his presentation. I enjoyed every minute of the lecture. I was seated to the far right in the very front which made it difficult to see everything he was doing, but his engaging teaching style worked even for people who couldn’t see him very well from their seats.

He used examples from his books extensively to illustrate points and to introduce topics. Four books written and published by Edward Tufte were distributed at the entrance before the talk began. These four books were worth the entire price of admission alone! I can hardly wait to take the time to study them and incorporate their ideas into my own designs.

In one portion of his lecture E.T. focuses on eliminating “chartjunk” and useless clutter from data representations. He is not too keen on the use of PowerPoint with its heavy reliance on hierarchical outlines and the interface’s encouragement to use “bullet grunts” to describe things.

One recent innovation he presents is Sparklines, or small word-sized graphs that can be used any place in a document to quickly convey a lot of data. They are meant to be used just like words. He even suggested that a Sparkline could make a great headline in a news story, especially in the sports section.

This was an all-day event, and afterwards I met up with my wife and some friends at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Phoenix; a satisfying end to an enlightening day.