audience when I'm doing web drudgery
Saturday, January 15 2005
Today was the day that my account on Spies.com officially came to an end after seven years of service. I had to do a few housekeeping routines related to the switch to my own domain (Asecular.com), but my main reason to sit in front of my computer today was related to another web crisis. Suddenly out of nowhere we learned that an article would be appearing in the Sunday New York Times about the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, and that meant I had to whip its website back into shape. Websites fall into neglect in normal times and only get the spit and polish they need on occasions like this, when it seems that there will be a massive influx of visitors. So while Gretchen, Ray, Nancy, and the dogs were off at Onteora Lake slipping on the ice and getting the car stuck in snow, I was huddled over my computer trying to figure out how to get lefthand nav links to look more like buttons and replacing embarrassingly dated paragraphs that, among other things, referred to warm weather in the present tense. Most such time-related text is actually generated by scripts that check to see what day of the year it is, but hardcoded seasonal references often pass unnoticed in blocks of copy and paste text.
During part of my work, I did so with Gretchen and even Nancy at my side. Gretchen was acting as my task master (the professional term is "Project Manager") while Nancy was just a curious bystander. While I always enjoy an audience when I'm doing web drudgery, they themselves both seemed to be entertained just by watching me work. Web work done by a experienced web guy is an impressive show, with a few tweaks to impenetrable code in one window and sudden massive changes for the better in another. I take it all for granted, but it's a skill that takes years to develop. Too bad there's no market for it.
A little while after everybody returned from Onteora Lake I went downstairs and saw Ray and Nancy kicking back in front of the fire with beers in hand. In my Upstate isolation I'd forgotten how 80% of America enjoys a Saturday afternoon. I'd been enjoying it my own special way, under the influence of pseudoephedrine. I didn't have any particular craving for beer initially, and only took one after Ray headed to get his second. There's nothing quite like the taste of beer when you're hopped up on 150mg of pseudoephedrine (a dose that only costs fifty cents and lasts for hours).
Our friends from Tillson joined us after work and more beer was drunk. Initially the plan was for us to all go to La Pupuseria on Broadway, but Gretchen decided at some point that she didn't want to go that far (circa eight miles) so we opted for the Hurley Mountain Inn instead (two and a half miles away). It was a Saturday Night and the place was packed with people, many of them suffering through a football game on the big screen teevee that wasn't going the way they wanted it to. The New York Jets were losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Gretchen and Mr. Tillson were delighted; they were secretly cheering for Pittsburgh. We stood around the bar for about fifteen minutes waiting for a table to open up. That was long enough for us to go through two pitchers of Labatt Blue. Ray really knows how to drink beer. I love that about him. He challenged me to be the first of us to find a non-white person in the room, an impossibility since he declared himself out of the running. Of the 150 or so people there, he, a Filipino, was the only non-Caucasoid in the room (if you don't count the effects of his Spanish grandfather). In terms of diversity from the usual Hurley Mountain Inn scene, I saw at least two lesbians there also (no, not counting Gretchen!) Gretchen and I knew one of them because she works in the cafeteria at Ulster County Community College.
Back at the house we all tried to watch The Incredibles on DVD (Gretchen and I have access to some DVDs before they are actually available for sale) but something about the movie (or the beer we'd been drinking) made most of us fall asleep well before the movie ended. But Gretchen is a sucker for Pixar films and stayed up the to watch the whole thing. Still, it didn't make her happy. She was upset by its formulaic adherence to traditional gender roles. Perhaps Disney had overcompensated for their Gay Days at Disney World. Remember, the antisecular crowd won a mandate in the November election, and people are positioning themselves to survive the coming American Inquisition.
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