Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Balancing on the deck

Just coming off a really nice three-day weekend here. Sitting on the deck in the moist-but-not-too-warm-yet morning, with my laptop, really good yogurt, and a pot of tea. There are three big red poppies open this morning, and the peonies have all passed out on the grass like a crowd of pink-headed drunks. May always brings a nearly impenetrable wall of trees and indiscriminate green growth between us and the neighbors behind, which is probably a good thing (except for the damned giant mulberry tree). From six to seven it goes from nearly silent, except for birds and squirrels, to busy traffic: cars, grindy trucks of lawn services, school buses approaching their last runs of the year, and the fainter ding-ding-ding of the train crossings. A big crow, a small barky dog, airplanes, motorcycles but no mosquitoes.

I get to just listen to them instead of being out among them because it's Tuesday, and I get to work at home on Tuesdays. I've done this for almost ten years now, and that one day a week gives me such respite; I'm really grateful. If I get up early, I can log more work time, or use the time for myself instead of getting ready to go and commuting. I could technically sit out here on the deck and work, though I rarely do; it seems a touch too hedonistic. No one cares how I'm dressed, and I can have whatever music or radio or sweet silence I want. The tea is also better.

And for the record, I really do work on these Tuesdays. It's a good time to write, think through a project, or churn out a lot of tweaks to a website.

Tomorrow I'll get up refreshed (I hope, unless I've had too much tea!) and bound off to work knowing that I only have to pull my way through three days before I get a free one. I even manage to enjoy the commute (it is nice to see other people after a few days at home).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Visualizing unimaginable statistics

This artist, Chris Jordan, uses enormous images to help people comprehend statistics about America. One example is the image of the 60,000 plastic bags that we use every 5 seconds in the US. Of course, he's trying to make a point, but the sheer communicative power is remarkable.

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Will that be fine?"

Having an Andy Rooney moment here. Have you ever had someone (usually a stranger, maybe a restaurant hostess) request something of you, and end the request with: "Will that be fine?"

I'm not sure when this started, but it always rubs me very much the wrong way, and I have to fight the desire to give them a sharp retort. It just seems so presumptuous.

"I know you've purchased a seat in the extended legroom section of this flight, but I'd like to switch places with you so I could sit near my fiancé. My seat is back by the toilets in between two parents who'll be holding their infant twins on their laps during this flight. Will that be fine?"

"Would you mind?" is surely a better way to phrase this. Even "would it be okay" or "would it be all right".

It will definitely not be fine.