Bed Bugs

Red Bed Bug on an aqua background  that looks as scary as they feel.One of our neighbors moved out rather uneventfully a few months after his wife left him and his apartment had begun to stink through the floor of cigarettes. A few times a little drunk in the elevator with strange women and poof he was gone.

Hugo was convinced it was mosquitos. One doctor was convinced it was allergies. Another said it looked like crawling bugs because the welts were in lines, something we would later learn is called “breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” I wish I had believed him, but for a doctor he talked too much about porn, and didn’t charge me. Maybe I’m still too American to understand healthcare that isn’t about raking in the cash.

Several months later I was crying all the time, I itched so badly and my back looked like I had been beaten with one of Mason’s late night creations. Hugo wasn’t going to take action, he was still playing the mosquito bite card, until I started talking about moving away. Let the bugs have the place, I reasoned (lets give me the benefit of the doubt and just say I was being reasonable), clearly we are outnumbered. Finally, another neighbor happened to mention that the man who moved out might possibly have had an issue with bugs.

That’s when we called A.B.A.C. Nettoyage, who sent their insect technician. No man exists who is more delighted with his work. He grins vaguely and wears no protective equipment. He says he works so quickly he stays ahead of the fumes, meanwhile the air was choking even outside the apartment.

It didn’t work the first time. No, I’m not kidding. We had to have him back. After the first spraying we just pissed them off. They took their vengance on my back.

Bed Bug Bites

the namesake

Cover of the namesake by jhumpa lahiriby jhumpa lahiri

Maybe the immigrant experience is universal, maybe it doesn’t depend on what country you have left or are working to integrate into. This book was far better than Interpreter of Maladies because of the continuity, the development of the characters, and the obvious sincerity with which it was written.

She cried as she feeds him, and as she pats him to sleep, and as he cries between sleeping and feeding. She cries after the mailman’s visit because there are no letters from Calcutta. She cries when she calles Ashoke at his department and he does not answer. One day she cries when she goes to the kitchen to make dinner and discovers that they’ve run out of rice. She goes upstairs and knocks on Alan and Judy’s door. “Help yourself,” Judy says, but the rice in Judy’s canister is brown. To be polite, Ashima takes a cup, but downstairs she throws it away. She calls Ashoke at his department to ask him to pick up the rice on his way home. This time, when there is no answer, she gets up, washes her face and combs her hair. She changes and dresses Gogol and puts him into te navy blue, white-wheeled pram inherited from Alan and Judy. For the first time, she pushes him through the balmy streets of Cambridge, to Purity Supreme, to buy a bag of white long-grain rice. The errand takes longer than usual; for now she is repeatedly stopped on the street, and in the aisles of the supermarket, by perfect strangers, all Americans, suddenly taking notice of her, smiling, congratulating her for what she’s done. They look curiously, apreciatively, into the ram. “How old?” they ask. “Boy or girl?” “What’s his name?”

Mine might be a bichon frise, but he has had somewhat the same effect on icy Parisians. Too bad I didn’t get him sooner.

HTML Lite

Approach:  For a long time I didn’t really understand the reason for CSS, XHTML, and standards in general.  I didn’t get that the reason for the separation of CSS and HTML was to separate content from presentation.   And even when I read that statement in Standards based design books, I didn’t understand why.  What are the benefits of this separation?

12/42 seconds loading Cut page size and thus loading times by up to 75%.  Saving strain on servers and disk space at hosting service or on machines hosting the site.  Particularly for image heavy sites such as Artists would often have saving speed in the details helps insure that images of artwork will load sooner.

How to write lite HTML?

Choosing an editor

Chances are, you already have a tool that you are comfortable with, but is that tool really supporting your efforts to author valid, accessible, modern code?  Validity and accessibility are ultimately not something you paste on top of an otherwise broken website.  By far the easiest way to author well is to learn to do it all along.  When I finish writing a template page for a website, I run it through the CSS validator and the HTML validator on the W3C website.  When I first started authoring valid code this was a tedious process.  I was trying to validate something broken.  Now, when I finish with a site it often validates without any errors.  This is the result of a change in  process.  A change in editors (pico just allows too many typing errors!) as well as rethinking the way to author and the reasons for separating content from presentation.

I reviewed several html editors in the article WYSIWYG Editor Accessibility Test Results:   Allowing writers to contribute to the creation of accessible documents.  This review was based on a search for a non-technical tool for writers.  Based on your level of technical skill and the resources you have available you may consider Dreamweaver or Contribute (with options configured for accessibility and validity), Amaya, or XMLSpy. 

First write XHTML Strict 1.0. 

It’s just easier to work within the rules once you get used to them.  This means that you use a doctype declaration at the top of every page. This declaration lets the browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera, and others) know what kind of mark-up to expect and in some cases how to interpret it.  Transitional sounds easier at the outset, but diagnosing layout problems is a lot easier if you are certain these are not just the quirks of lower quality code.  The initial investment is well worth its payoff in the long run. 

This means that you must finish what you start! List Items, breaks, images, paragraphs, and horizontal rules must all have closing tags.  This is accomplished in two ways.  List items and paragraphs must have closing tags.

<ul>
	<li>Earrings</li>
	<li>Nose Rings</li>
	<li>Other Rings</li>

</ul>

<p>Text text text text.</p>

Images, horizontal rules, meta elements, and breaks remain a single tag, but they must be closed within themselves. Note the space between the end of the tag information and the back slash.  This is essential for some reason I do not now recall.  Just do it.

<img src="images/pearlearrings.jpg" />

<br />

<hr /> 

Write all tags and attributes in lowercase.  Put quotes around attribute values.  Use escape characters for all symbols.  For instance &amp; for the ampersand.

Planning

A return to grade school, outline the document like a research paper.  Start with a roman numeral I. and work your way down to the finish.  At this point don’t consider how you want to present the content, but only what it is and how it relates heirarchically to the rest.  For Instance, consider this website: Flesh out

  1. Nicole Sullivan
  2. Skip Links
  3. Stylesheet Switcher
  4. Navigation
  5. Article Title
    1. Subtite
      1. Sub-Sub Title
  6. Extra Information

Using Lists for Navigation Elements

Using Selectors

Selectors are the key to avoiding div-itis.  Probably half the weight of the first couple of sites you build using CSS will be div tags. 

Meaningful Names

You’ll be kicking yourself the third time your client asks you to change to look of an element you called "redUnderline".  If you choose structurally meaningful names for classes like "specialInstructions", "teamCaptain", or "salePrice" the look can change without losing cohesiveness.  This will also keep a consistent appearance accross multiple pages which not only helps branding, but allows disabled visitors in particular to quickly understand how to navigate around your site and find the information they are looking for.

Granite Pastry Island

Granite Pastry IslandJennifer loves to bake, and everyone loves to keep Jennifer baking. She is a wonderful cook, and her pastrys are particularly tasty. Last year I made a granite pastry island to keep her crusts cool as she works the dough.

We bought a basic island from Kitchens etc. to keep the project economical. I then tiled the top with granite tiles from Roma Tile Co. in Watertown. We used a strong dark gray sandless grout with silicone to seal the tiles to one another. I then put a white maple border around the top and routed a 45 degree angle to give a lighter feel to the edge.

The gap between the maple and the tile was sealed with a matching silicone caulking to allow for expansion and contraction of the wood without cracking. With several coats of varnish and sanding to protect the wooden border from heavy use the Pastry Island was workable.