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Monday, July 30, 2007

"Think. Think. Think," said Pooh.

What a wonderfully wobbly web we weave...

I've been doing a lot of stuff on the web recently, and I kind of enjoy it (at least at the moment). And I'll tell you why I enjoy it in one word: autonomy. Now I'll explain that one word in a lot more words...

At my day job at the print shop I very often deal with customers who either know exactly what they want in a design and will nitpick everything I do to death making changes until the job's on the press, or customers who give me something they've already designed on a disk and tell me to print it EXACTLY they way they designed it (never mind that we don't have the obscure software they used, they did a four-color design and want us to print it in two colors, there are typos all over, etc.). Very rarely do I get to actually do any design work any more -- in fact my job title is gradually changing from "Art Director" to "Pre-Press Technician."

But when I'm designing web sites, most of the time I'm doing them gratis for charities who are more than happy to give me free reign on the entire site -- photos, writing, design, all my hobbies come together. This makes me happy. The problem is that while I'm enjoying designing and writing the sites, and I feel good for helping causes I believe in, I'm slowly but steadily going broke. I'd really, REALLY like to get paid for a site one of these days.

But then it would immediately turn into work, and I'd have the same woes I have at my day job...

So, the only time I feel creatively happy, productive, and fulfilled is when I do things for free.

(If you're bored, here are some sites I've done lately -- www.nwiaalr.com, www.healingrun.com, www.siouxlandsleepout.com, www.hippieboydesign and www.independentriderscc.com. I need to completely re-do my www.radloffs.net web site some day. (It's old and, frankly, a little embarrassing in places. I did the entire site in Quark, which is NOT designed to do web stuff. I'm happier using Google's web design tools now, and I'm slowly learning actual HTML, so my winter project may be redeveloping the site from the ground up, provided I can figure out how to change the cname. I may eventually end up changing URL's and moving this blog as well.)


Picture Perfect?

Dagmar and I, along with a friend of ours, were the official photographers at a wedding last Saturday. First time I've ever done that. Kinda spooky, but loads of fun! Thankfully it was an outdoor biker wedding and we knew almost everyone there.

It was pretty cool -- there were chairs in the yard set up for the guests with the traditional aisle going up the middle. On either side of the chairs was a row of motorcycles. The bride's bike was behind the bridesmaids and the groom's was behind the groomsmen. The preacher had his black leather vest on for most of the night, though he did take it off for the actual service (as did the groom, surprisingly). The guests were all very respectful and attentive, but every now and then you'd hear a discreet "Pfffft" as a beer was quietly opened during the service. (I have to admit, it was pretty funny watching people fumble around trying to find a place to set their beers when the preacher called for a prayer.) As the newlyweds came down the aisle at the end everyone stood and cheered. Those who happened to be on their motorcycles started the engines and let them roar for a while.

It brought tears to my eyes. Seriously. It was one of the most honest, open, heartfelt weddings I've seen. There were no polite handshakes in the receiving line, just big back-slapping hugs.

It felt true.

Leonesse left a comment on a previous post saying they enjoyed looking at the photos of Dagmar and I at our wedding, lo those many years ago back in the early aughts. We did have a cool wedding! We were hitched outside in the park. We flew kites and played frisbee in the afternoon, had a couple kegs sitting out, ate dinner, then got married out by the pond. After the service we had a belly-dancer from Europe dance and the blues band I was in at the time played until after midnight. Someday I'm gonna have to scan in all our wedding photos so I can torture you all with them...


Why is it...


...that when your buddy gets back from the dentist the first thing you do, before even hearing how it went, is to regale him with YOUR last horrible trip to the dentist?


Climate Change


Generally speaking, June and July are fairly nice times in Iowa, and August is hot, dry and dusty. This year, though, July had the characteristics of August. We've not seen rain of any significance in months, and the temperatures are generally in the mid to upper 90's. There's serious talk that the Big Sioux River could dry up by the end of the summer, a bad thing as the river is used to supply several towns' drinking water, and farmers use it both for irrigation and to water their livestock.

I've seen more vines the past few years than I remember in years past. As a child, vines were seen as tropical things that lived in the jungle. A few people were lucky enough to have some ivy growing on their house, but it was a rarity. Now vines are all over -- completely covering old windmills and choking entire trees. I've got one on my garage that's been getting bigger and bigger each year since it started three years ago. I've also been seeing cliff swallows all over the place this year -- I don't remember ever seeing them in this area before.


Think Ahead


Oil's running out. We knew that a long time ago. We had a crisis in the 1970s. Jimmy Carter warned us about it then. Now, thirty-plus years later we're all surprised that oil is running out.

Here's the thing. We're all a bit peeved that our government didn't do something to prepare for this, but what have WE done to prepare? Think about your company -- has your boss done anything to get a jump start on the post-oil economy? I'm not talking about buying a fleet of hybrid cars (though that would be a good step too), but rather about larger things.

Transportation costs are going to skyrocket. Does your company ship raw materials in? How? It may be worth it in the long run to relocate part of your company to a spot a bit closer to the rail lines. Is there a local source for these raw materials? If so, it may behoove you to think about switching over to that source rather than relying on out-of-state resources.

Is anyone thinking of this stuff? I often see an eighteen-wheel semi pull in here at the print shop, spend five minutes backing up to the loading dock, then sit there and idle while the truck driver gets out, opens the back and hand-carries 50 pounds of specialty paper into the shop. We're paying for that delivery cost, and we have to pass that cost on to the customer. Wouldn't it be more cost-effective in those cases for us to simply have our delivery guy stop in at the paper supply company with our little delivery van and pick the stock up, bypassing the delivery altogether? Might it not be in our company's interest to look at seeing if paper would be cheaper if there were no delivery charge attached to it -- we can pick it up cheaper than they can deliver it at least half the time. And that saves energy.

The print shop here has a flat roof with black tar on the top of it. Wouldn't it lower our air conditioning costs (and we do need air conditioning with all this heavy equipment running inside the building) if they'd replace the black tar with something eco-friendly that doesn't absorb heat, like maybe sod or natural prairie grasses? Sure, it'll cost a bit now to do that, but won't it be worth it in the long run? Wouldn't that make my company a little more competitive in the next few years? I still wish the government would force the power companies to allow personal wind generators -- our flat roof here at the shop would be a beautiful place to put a few small windmills to help us power some of the equipment...

Just a few thoughts. I'm going to go ride my bicycle to the bank now.

5 Comments:

Blogger J Morgetron said...

Hey ... Thanks for the visit ... AND ... while I'm thinking of it -- Where is that vehicular/testicular photo you were raving about a few posts back?

~Still Waiting (Not because I'm into *that* sort of thing ... just because I'm damn curious now that you brought it up)~

-J

11:16 PM  
Blogger pistols at dawn said...

Re: oil, you're absolutely right. I think people tend to think, "Well, what the hell can I do?" The answer: die earlier. And don't drive.

Congrats on the web design, which everyone needs but no one wants to pay for. Start demanding payment in beer and food at first, then work your way up to money.

Who goes to the dentist? Communists, that's who.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Bert Bananas said...

Most people still believe "oil" comes out of the ground. I won't burst your bubble. But I can assure that there is no danger of ever running out of oil. We'll run out of patience before we run out of oil. Really.

And it wouldn't matter anyway as science is doing wonderful things with rubber bands. Only they're not made out of rubber anymore. They're made out of 'space age' materials and even if the Saudis stop making oil out sand and dandruff, we could still criss-cross the country on no more than five 'rubber band' recharges.

11:49 PM  
Blogger KatzeKitty said...

Yep, it's yer sis again, looking for a place to vent.

My latest "save the planet" idea is to have a program where solar panels are installed on the massive roofs (rooves?) of schools and hospitals so they can drastically lower their power demand and maybe even pump some 'lectricity back into the grid. Maybe your print shop won't spring for panels, but they could at least let their employees grow some veg on the roof... might lower their healthcare payouts, too... snack on fresh beans rather than Doritos.

Weedy vines are all over. They're a pain. It makes my stomach turn to see homeowners and the city let that stuff proliferate unabated. Rogue walnut trees, too, are a major pet peeve. Not only are they tough to kill, the leaves and roots emit a chemical that prohibits many other plants from growing in the soil. When you see a stand of walnut trees, even if they're whacked down and hauled away, it could be up to a decade before that chemical leaches out.

A few years ago, I learned that squirrels are bound to take over the planet. Their mission is to drive homeowners crazy by burying walnuts, sunflower seeds, corn, and other food all over their yards. Eventually, that homeowner will give up caring, and the squirrels will take over that plot of lush food sources, and will move on to the next one. Good for them that they're so darn cute.

(New favorite verification word: fusmiilq)

4:00 PM  
Anonymous vjpulver said...

There's Pooh again! Just when I had my fill of watching the You Tube Soviet-era Russian version f the cartoon (Vinni Pu)!

You and Dagmar have an anniversay tomorrow - good time to reminise about that delightful day...

Re: Motocycles and weddigs. In my Air Force years some of the ammo troops had a big wedding - the bride in white leathers and lots of Harleys roaring... that was back in the late 1970s when bikes were still susect by most folks...

Hast la vista..I am off to bed!

Ginn
In Sunny SC

8:08 PM  

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