Roxie And Stef Are On The Way

Roxie took a pill and a half which hasn’t taken effect yet. Uh oh.

Helaine spoke to Stef a little while ago. They were on their way to the airport. Roxie took a pill and a half which hasn’t taken effect yet. Uh oh. Earlier Helaine saw Stef’s Chicago flight was the continuation of a Sydney/Los Angeles.

“It’s running an hour early,” she said.

It’s not quite that simple, because other than the flight number these seem like two totally separate flights. The Sydney/Los Angeles leg is aboard a 747. Los Angeles to Chicago is on an A320.

Why does United present it this way? Is it so they can claim ‘direct’ Australia/Chicago service? I don’t know.

In the meantime I’m hoping Roxie sleeps coast-to-coast.

The Nicest Star I Ever Met

Of course I wasn’t the first. He was a big deal. He knew that. It didn’t matter. He wanted to be nice right back and worked hard to make sure he was.

I’ve met a lot of famous people. That was especially true when I used to fill-in on Good Morning America&#185. Stars–real stars–were coming through that studio every day.

They were working. I was working. Often we’d just pass in the hallway or when they were placed in my area waiting to go on. I was the fill-in weatherman, not exactly a major player.

“Are those children’s drawings?” A short trim man with a deep Texas accent asked that one morning while looking over my shoulder.

“No Mr. Perot. They’re weather maps.”

Any respect I had for H. Ross Perot disappeared in that one instant! He was in the studio promoting a book he surely didn’t write.

I’ve already chronicled my biggest celebrity disappointment. I might as well tell you who was best.

First though, honorable mention to Ron Howard. Holy crap I watched this man my (and his) whole life. He could not have been nicer. He was promoting Apollo 13 and I’d just been with him two days earlier in Houston at the Space Center.

Under any other circumstances he’d be number one. He’s nice and a Renaissance man.

dennis franz.jpgThe winner is Dennis Franz. Remember him from NYPD Blue?

I can’t even remember what Franz was promoting, but he was walking down the hall near Spencer Christian’s dressing room (which became mine for the day) as I walked out.

He was paunchy and rumpled–just like TV! His accent screamed Chicago.

I introduced myself and told him how much I enjoyed watching him on TV. He thanked me for my kind words, but it wasn’t just a thank you. He was speaking as if I was the first person ever to say something nice to him. His response dripped of humility and sincerity.

Of course I wasn’t the first. He was already a big deal. He knew that. It didn’t matter. He wanted to be nice right back and worked hard to make sure he was.

I have never forgotten that short meeting. It is still vivid in my mind.

I’m sure I have been short with people who come up to me asking for an autograph or photo or just wanting to say hello. No one is perfect–certainly not me. But I always try and remember Dennis Franz and use him as my guide in how to be when someone has taken the time to give me a compliment.

It was a little tiny thing which took so little effort on his part and yet it was so meaningful.

Hey Dennis–I hope you get to see this. Believe me, the pleasure was all mine. I meant every kind word then and now.

&#185 – Still available. A decade between appearances isn’t that much.

Restyling The Blog Continues

I have no training in this. It’s all self taught… incompletely self taught!

2010-blog-screencap.jpgIt was 5:30 AM by the time I got to bed this morning. Helaine’s extra unencumbered sleep was courtesy of my blog redesign. I hit a problem around 3:45 AM. If left alone my worry was I’d never be able to unravel it.

I have no training in this. It’s all self taught… incompletely self taught! Every time I code I find more I don’t know.

My goal is cleaner and bolder. Over time websites deteriorate and lose their tightness&#185. This one has.

There are many similarities between the new and old look. I suppose that’s unavoidable. At the same time there are lots of differences. Some are visible, but many lie in the invisible way the blog functions… how it’s feed if you will.

The new look runs on WordPress using a theme based on “Byty,” itself a child theme which runs under the Thematic framework. That last sentence was just to show how meticulously detailed and arcane the whole process is.

Nothing is straightforward. Nothing is where I expect it to be. Here’s a link to the home page with some bells and whistles revealed.

I threw up my hands and spent some quality time on the phone with Gary Choronzy. Gary often serves as my website guru since those things I lost sleep over Gary can do in his sleep!

Most (not all) of the styling is done. Even Gary was surprised how far I’d come already. Now I enter the phase where the loose ends get tidied up. Of course there will be loose ends that slip by regardless of my diligence.

When the switch gets thrown everything changes at once. The website moves from Chicago to the suburbs of Philadelphia. Some pieces will untestable until that moment. There is little chance to go back.

It’s all exciting and simultaneously daunting.

If you’d like to take a sneak peek it’s temporarily visible here. Comments welcome.

&#185 – Around a year ago I went to Karl Rove’s website while following a news story. Rove is not my cup of tea, but his website was really well done. No more. It is a perfect example of how tightness goes away with time. Pieces have been added that don’t fit.

It’s tough to look at the site and think I once used it as a model of what I wanted.

I’m Getting Set To Change My Blog

Each of these steps is tiny, but none of them is particularly well documented. If anything’s been left out I won’t know until it’s failed!

blog backend screencap.jpgWithout getting too terribly geeky my blog runs on Movabletype. That’s a software package which puts my typed words into the visual format you see. Moveabletype has served me well, but the trend in blogs (and other similar sites) is toward WordPress.

Simply put WP is supported by a huge community of developers and MT is not. That means WordPress can do lots of tricks this blog can’t do right now. In a Twitter, Facebook, search engine optimized age some of the tricks are pretty important.

There is a feature in WordPress to actually import a Movabletype blog like this one…. hold on… I’m laughing hysterically. You really don’t think it’s that easy, do you? I mean there is that feature. It almost works!

Others have blazed this path before me and dropped breadcrumbs along the way. I’ve been in arcane files located on a distant server changing “\n” to “\n \n.” I’ve created files to remind my server which version of software it needs to run.

Each of these steps is tiny, but none of them is particularly well documented. If anything’s been left out I won’t know until it’s failed!

The blog’s server will move too. Right now it’s hosted by a company in Chicago. It will probably reside on the Pennsylvania servers of a German company when I’m through. That should be invisible to you.

With all this the look of the blog will change. Though it has to change a little it’ll probably change a lot. There may be fewer full stories on the home page but more summaries and links. Maybe a better way to show photos? I’m mulling the decisions.

It needs to look nice while not pissing you (my readers) off.

I’m thinking of designing the theme myself from scratch. The more I look the more that seems doable. Most folks choose to use a pre-designed theme.

More than I can chew? Possibly.

I’m fixated on typography. Some blogs look so pretty because of the way they use type–how it’s spaced and formatted for headlines, quotes and lists. I’ve been searching for advice on this particular nuance but have come up short so far.

I’m open to suggestions. It’s like a fresh sheet of paper has been laid before me. It’s geekily exciting.

The process should take a few days… by which I mean a few weeks… so probably by late March… 2011.

The Guy Who Deiced Our Plane

Have I just become a bleeding heart liberal with a nanny complex?

the-guy-hwo-deiced-the-plane.jpgThis is a story about changing expectations. Today we expect everyone to be protected from nearly every hazard. That’s why what Helaine and I saw at Midway Airport in Chicago stood out.

The guy spraying the deicing solution on our airplane is our problem child. He’s wearing goggles (or glasses–it’s tough to say for sure), but breathing in the deicing mist&#185!

The American Chemical Society says:

“aircraft deicing fluids are aqueous solutions of a glycol, or mixture of glycols, along with proprietary additives. Depending on the formulation required, the additives might include a surfactant, polymer thickening agent, pH buffer, corrosion inhibitor, flame retardant, or dye.”

Why is anyone breathing in this stuff? Shouldn’t he have some sort of protection, or have I just become a bleeding heart liberal with a nanny complex?

&#185 – As always, click the photo for a larger, clearer picture.

On Our Way Home From Los Angeles.

As I type a woman is sitting next to me living her life via Nextel Direct Connect… at full volume! Good grief. It would be better if she had more interesting stories.

lax-gate-three.jpgI’m writing from Gate 3 at LAX. It’s sunny. It’s warm. It’s not a happy departure. We came as three. We leave as two.

Stef’s reasonably set up. Her furniture is assembled. The TV is working. She and her roommate, who also just moved in, still have unpacking to do but it’s under control.

Helaine is profoundly affected, but she’s showing strength. This is our only child. Stef and she have been as close as parent and child can be.

Stefanie was very apprehensive up until two or three days ago. As things started to fall into place she began to relax.

As I type a woman is sitting next to me living her life via Nextel Direct Connect… at full volume! Good grief. It would be better if she had more interesting stories.

I’m in a row of comfortable chairs with electrical outlets and USB ports. I like that.

We stopped to get some lunch before heading down the concourse. As I sat at a table waiting for Helaine I noticed a tall, slender Asian woman. OK–I know, I notice all tall, slender Asian women.

Back to the woman. She was wearing porn shoes! I don’t know how else to describe them. They were high stiletto heels with the sole hiked a few more inches up on a platform.

Maybe she was slender and not tall? Tough to say now that I think of it.

We’re flying home through Chicago today. The weather should cooperate. There are some flurries expected at Midway, but nothing worse.

By the time we land at Bradley we’ll have lost a good fifty degrees. A good fifty? No–the best fifty!