Hey, Beth!

I scanned in that article about the wax paper transfers and posted it here if you’d like to read it. Someone messaged me on the Pop Photo forums and that reminded me that I’d been planning to scan it in for ya.

Yoga Makes Me Feel Good

After reading sheryls‘ journal, where she points to this article about weight-loss that you really should read, I decided that I needed to start back up on a regular regimen of physical activity. (So, what else is new?) I ended up doing my Yoga for Dummies Workout DVD… and man, that feels good. My arms and legs are kind of wobbly—a little tired from holding up my still-oversized frame in unusual positions—but it’s that good kind of stretchy I-just-worked-out feeling.

Speaking of feeling good about things: holy crap, can you believe the weather?! Sure, it’s overcast, kinda, but I don’t think it got about 70° today. Feels like October in August—not that I’m complaining. Awesome, awesome weather. I went out to get some Arby’s for lunch today and didn’t want to go back inside.

My brain wandered onto this thought today at work: Am I narcissistic? I don’t think so, but I have a strange predilection for poring over photographs and reflections of myself. Sometimes I think I look pretty good, and other times my gorge rises at how large my double-chin once was or how big my thighs still are. It all depends on my mood, I think. Either way, I don’t think I’m obsessed with my looks—not by a long shot. I just find it weird that my own reflection can keep me captivated like a first-grader for minutes at a time.

Now I’m off to rate more stuff on Amazon, so that it’ll give me better stupid ads and recommendations. 🙂

Black Background = Evil and Hurty to my eyes

I hate reading websites with lots of white type on a black background. (Not like yours, Aaron—I’m talking about this one in particular.) It makes my eyes do that spotty thing like I’ve been staring at a light or at the sun, except it’s stripes instead of spots, and it really fucks me up.

That said, I’m going upstairs to read and go to sleep. ::pause:: —Read? Hmm.

Workplace Potpourri

Random thoughts from the workplace:

There’s a woman at work whose name is Mari. It’s a Spanish name (actually short for Xiomara), so the R is pronounced with a bit of a flip. Some of us can get it, some can almost get it (saying Mah-dee), and some really don’t get it at all and chew it up so bad it sounds like Maudie. One person joked around and told her we were going to start calling her Molly. Very few people chew the R and call her Mah-ree, though, which must be a relief to Mari. I don’t know, though… morphing Mari into Maudie is almost as bad.

I got a “Gotcha Card” the other day for helping to solve an issue with a client’s autopayment. I felt really guilty about getting the kudos, though, since I’d actually caused the problem myself a few weeks ago. Some stroke of luck or fate or karma had me dealing with the perplexed banker who had to deal with the irate customer who had an automatic payment taken out of his account after he’d cancelled autopayment. As a result of this unexpected debit, the man managed to bounce several checks and rack up some massive NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees at his other bank. And why did the autopay pull after it had been cancelled? Because yours truly left out a step when she fulfilled the request to cancel autopay. I didn’t let on to the banker, though—I just let her know that it was our error in Loan Corrections. To make things even better, I had to ask my supervisor from which general fund the banker should refund the client’s NSF fees, and had to admit my own personal guilt in the process. But I got a Gotcha Card for defusing the situation, and I almost don’t want it.

As a final note: As I was wasting away the last 15 minutes of the day by running to the kitchen to freeze my water bottle, and to the recycle bin to dump my basket of shreddables, and to the mailroom to drop off some outgoing mail, I saw one woman trying equally hard to while away some time. She wasn’t doing nearly as good a job of looking busy as I was, though: she had her trash can full of shreddables sitting on its side atop the recycle bin, and was peering at the papers inside. Not taking them out of the one and feeding them into the other, mind you—just looking at them. Watching them. As if she expected them to start making the journey on their own. Good Christ, how obvious can you make it that you’re just trying to waste the last ten minutes of your workday?!

Ahem. I’m better now.

What Is This Song?!

All I’ve got is part of the chorus: “You’ve… got… me… runnin’ arouuuuund in circles, runnin’ arouuuund in circles, runnin’ around in—”

I think it’s one of those lesser-known 90’s tunes, but that’s all I can remember of it! I’ve tried Amazon/CDNow, I’ve tried Google, I’ve tried the Ultimate Band List, and nothing’s helping. I thought I had it, and I downloaded a tune called Getting Nowhere by Into Another, but that wasn’t it at all.

Anyone got any ideas?

Redesign Step 1: Figuring Out What I Like

So, my computer is happy once more, and I have completed my tour of neat websites.

As with many things, sometimes I just like a website’s design without really thinking of specifically why I like said design. So, to make myself pay attention, I made a list of likes and dislikes as I websurfed the elite list, so I can integrate some specific ideas into my redesign.

My likes (and I apologize for not writing in layman’s terms):
+ a:hover / mouseOver background change on links
+ neat “ ‘s in blockquote backgrounds
+ little “about” blurbs in the sidebar
+ photographic mastheads with logomarks
+ cute little icons in front of post titles
+ kitsch. 50’s pics. retro fonts.
+ having the latest blog entry right up front
+ the ‘currently hearing‘ plugin
+ white (negative) space and an obvious focal point
+ partially opaque backgrounds for text
+ 5px borders on photos
+ logos with truncated letters (i.e. with the bottoms cut off)
+ simple, understated color palettes

My dislikes (or, things that seem chichéd or annoying):
+ centered layouts with patterned backgrounds on the sides
+ cute little icons in front of post titles
+ folder tabs
+ distressed-style graphics
+ overly large header graphics
+ cluttered teeny type
+ boxes with 45° cut-out corners

These are not, obviously, comprehensive lists of everything I like about every cool website, and I’m sure my likes and dislikes will change with time. They always do. After all, I once practically wet myself seeing this on an Apple Cinema Display, and now I just yawn and wonder if he’ll ever update his style.

On a similar note, I had an interesting conversation with one of my co-workers today. My partner in the duty rotation had mentioned that he’d been to college, so I asked what his degree was in. This opened up a floodgate of information—for which I was thankful, because it made me feel a little less… well, like a professional failure, to be blunt. Anyway, this guy graduated business college with an MIS degree, had a couple potentially super-cool second interviews, instead got a shitty job in his field away from home, quit and came back to NW Ohio. He ended up getting a temp gig at Sky to pay the bills (sounding familiar?), and accepted a permanent job when it was offered him, despite the fact that he would still be working outside of his field. Now he’s biding his time at Sky until he gets married in a month, and until his almost-wife gets her Master’s. Then he says he’s planning to go back to school (if it’ll help) and hopefully start a business with one particular friend/colleague of his.

He also shared with me that, after almost two years of not using his degree, he’s experiencing some… how did he put it? “Confidence issues.” I can completely relate to that. That’s actually one of the reasons I want to go in with Aaron sometime soon and get a video capture card for his computer—so I can edit video again. I’ve pretty much given up on catching up to the Flash wave. Director was fun to know, but no one uses it anymore. I can still design, though, and I hope I can still edit. I want to practice, and find out.

I shared with my co-worker that the main reason I’m not out job-hunting right now is that I’m waiting to become vested with my ESOP and Profit-Sharing conributions. My two-year anniversary is coming up in October, and then I’ll be 20% vested, I think. I’m not fully vested until I’ve been with the company for five years. But, considering how much Sky dumped into my 401(k) last quarter that isn’t really mine yet, I’ve got a pretty good incentive to stay on for another three years and some-odd months.

I just hope I can stay professionally competitive until then…

Damn Computer

PC froze up last night while I was installing the latest version of Quicktime. Stupid Quicktime. Anyway, this evening when I tried to start said computer, my Norton Antivirus wouldn’t load, and Windows told me my registry was messed up. So, it looks like it reverted to an earlier save point—er, sorry, restore point—because a bunch of my shit reverted to its old settings. And Norton’s drivers still aren’t loading up.

So, just to be safe, I ran SpyBot, which came up with all the usual suspects: tracking cookies from Advertising.com, Gator, and what-have-you, but no real spyware. And since Norton isn’t working right now, I’m running Pandascan—and I’ll be damned. Just as I was typing this, it found something. One infected file. Damn.

Well, anyway, once my computer is feeling better, I may write about this weekend in Grand Haven. Until then… maybe I’ll take some time away from my illin’ computer and do some Yoga For Dummies or something.

Homework Assignment

OK, I’m completely serious about this, so don’t post something silly without posting something serious, too.

I’ve been going through this list of well-designed websites, deciding what I admire and what I feel to be cliché. (I must have some amount of good taste, since I already frequent over half a dozen of the sites.) Anyway, one of the things I’d like to incorporate into my redesign (whenever it happens) is an About Me blurb. Not necessarily the full-page kind, as I’ve tried that multiple times and it just don’t work. More of something concise and amusing, like:

Diana Schnuth is a web designer and photographer in Toledo OH, making her actual living in the world of finance.

So, my homework assignment to you is to write one or two brief sentences about me that would explain who I am, and what I’m about, to any complete strangers who might confusedly stumble upon my site.

May the power of The Pink Pig be with you! Now go!

Belated GIP

I am genuinely disappointed that no one has yet commented on The Pink Pig! I mean, really! His skin is a crunchy treat!

Incidentally, The Pink Pig was scanned from a bag of Meijer store brand pork rinds—since discontinued, I am sorry to say. Anyway, Aaron was trying to cajol me into eating some pork rinds one day and came up with the phrase, “My skin is a crunchy treat!” It’s been a catch phrase for pork rinds ever since.

Rest in peace, Pink Pig! In your absence, the newly-redesigned Meijer packaging will still silently say to us, “My skin is a crunchy treat!”

Design Dilemmas

I’m contemplating embarking on a major website redesign. Not just a “the.details” redesign—a revamping of all the Diana Network of websites. I’m contemplating actually paying for my web hosting, and getting a decent amount of storage space. Perhaps an ASP-enabled server (so I can at least put pre-made scripts on it, even if I can’t make myself learn ASP alone). Hopefully at least PHP and SQL and Perl. Perhaps even abandoning LiveJournal altogether and trying out one of these other packages like Movable Type or WordPress or Textpattern.

Thing is, now that I give the idea some serious thought, I’m not sure how much control I would have over my design and coding if I use blogging software. My goal is to have a more dynamic page with more flexible design elements—”skinnable” is close to what I’m thinking, although I’m not sure if I could think of more than one or two site designs at once. But, anyway, having started as a hard-coder of HTML, it’s hard to give away all control of my coding, CSS or HTML or javascript or what-have-you. Even in Dreamweaver, I have to go in and fix code sometimes to get it the way I want.

And then there’s the Trendy Factor™. I don’t want my site to look exactly like everyone else’s site, spiffy and acclaimed though they may be. Unfortunately, however, my iFrames aren’t very searchable or trackable or navigable, though I once thought they were the proverbial shiznit. I want a clean, easy-to-update site with highly customizable design elements. I don’t necessarily want bleeding-edge web tech, nor do I want a rubber-stamp MT page with dashed lines around the blockquotes and a pretty patterned background behind my main content panel. I want a classic yet fun and moderately untraditional page that looks like I designed it.

When do I find my style? The one that I like as much as I like the styles of others? The closest I ever got was the Saginaires Alumni page, and even that’s beginning to look stale to me. It’s like it’s almost done, but not quite out of the draft stage. It’s missing something vital, some important detail elements.

Now, before I get a rash of “shut up—you design great websites!” comments (which, admittedly, I wouldn’t mind reading for an ego boost), I’ll concede that I do have some good ideas every now and then. I just can’t seem to make them combine into a solid final cohesive product with which I can be satisfied.

Maybe I’ll design a spiffy-looking new website with more dynamic and engaging content. We’ll see.