The year in cities, 2019

Now in its fifteenth year! Not a very exciting year, as it were, we had enough going on at home that there wasn’t much venturing going on. Next year is setting up to be more interesting.

As always, here are all the places I went in 2019 and spent the night. Repeat visits denoted with an asterisk.

New York *
Palm Beach Gardens, FL *
Plymouth Meeting, PA
Lenox, MA
Edgartown, MA *
Lake Buena Vista, FL *
New City, NY *

As you do

The scene: a crowded 1 train at rush hour, boarded at 14th Street. I am standing by the door, people crunched in front of me. 

To my right are a man and woman sitting in the seats. They look a little confused.

The train stops at Christopher. The woman half stands up, looking around over many commuters’ heads, nervously. 

From across the train, a disembodied voice calls out. “Not yet! You’re at Christopher Street.”

Relieved, the woman sits back down. The couple gets off at Houston with a thumbs-up to a woman standing by the other door. 


I now live around the corner from the Fireman’s Memorial. The streets were blocked on Wednesday morning; many somber uniformed officials passed by while I walked my dog into and out of Riverside Park.

My walk left me in a wretched mood, and a few hours later, still grouchy at work, it dawned on me why: this is the closest I’ve been, emotionally, to 9/11 in a long, long time. The sadness persists.

Several of my old-school-blogging peers like to post every September 11 about the events of 2001. I do not. I had plenty to say back then, and it holds up. In the years since, I’ve gone about life as any other New Yorker, quietly somber each anniversary. I lost people I knew on that day, too. But I chose not to dwell, publicly or privately, beyond my own quiet acknowledgement.

Walking into the remembrance this week–quite literally–hit me much differently. This wasn’t floodlights downtown leaving me in a bit of awe, this was real people commemorating their own pain and loss. This was my reminder of the policeman’s son who my circle lost that day, and his cousin, the suburban cop, my lifelong friend, spending days in the rubble, searching not only for him but for everyone else that would never be found. The remembrance came to me, and I almost didn’t know what to do with it. I’m glad it made me sad, glad I was able to process it and remember and mourn.

On Saturday, I took my dog for another walk past the Fireman’s Monument, this time with my eight-year-old son in tow. We paused to take in the fireman’s cross made of carnations, still intact and proud, a sober “343” in white flowers in the middle of it, for all the colleagues lost that day. I explained it in gentle terms to my son, then turned away to blink away my tears.

There’s a reason the common phrase around 9/11 is “never forget.” I know I never will.

An incomplete list of things our year-old Labradoodle chewed up while left home alone, July 2019

Cardboard boxes
Loose papers
Padded envelopes
Several hardcover books
A paper towel cylinder stolen from the recycling bin
A pre-chewed hardcover book cover stolen from the recycling bin
A bag of bagels off the kitchen counter (specifically, five bagels, and some of the bag)
TV remotes (two now, one so badly it doesn’t work anymore)
The protective cover off a limited edition Yoshi Wii remote
Some plastic toy Eli left on the ottoman
A bag full of new dinner plates
Two baseball caps
A box holding a dozen golf balls, and a couple of the balls
Treats he stole from a pocketbook after leaping on the game table (caught on video)
My prescription sunglasses
A variety of Legos, both boxed and loose
A dollar bill
And occasionally, very occasionally, a chew toy


Now with SSL

I’m a couple of years behind the curve on this, but Ideapad (and all of is now running securely. I had a joyously simple SSL setup courtesy Pair Networks, my longtime web host: a couple of clicks, a sub-$10 annual fee, and instant-on https.

This is really a post about service more than security. Pair has run my various websites for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never seriously considered moving. Over the years, their services have broadened, their prices have actually dropped on occasion, and their customer service accessibility has never wavered. For all the posts I see on Twitter and elsewhere complaining about hosting services–whether it’s “seriously considering a new webhost; mine messed up [X] and I’ve had enough” or “AWS is amazing and then you get the bill”–I’ve never once gotten fed up with the folks at Pair.

I have a tendency to get loyal when I find something good, and why not? Variety is good but consistency deserves to be rewarded. Pair gets the little things right. And for that, you and I get a more secure blogging experience.

About those archives…

As an early web design and usability practitioner, I have a long held a strong principle against linkrot, and maintaining the past for future appreciation. This is not a universal tenet. Some of the world’s best websites have been lost to history, which is a shame. Great examples of website preservation do exist—look up a late-1990s topic on, for example, and you’ll get the original layout, which is amazing. (And, of course, Space Jam.)

The difference between those sites and mine, of course, is that mine contains, well, a lot of mildly embarrassing stuff. I’m not the same person I was when I started blogging as a 25-year-old web designer. Still, I’ve never taken anything down; most of what’s gone missing is due to poor database management.

Occasionally, this makes for fun reading. Tonight, discussing a written school assignment with my 11-year-old son, I started digging around my archives to show him examples of how writing could be fun. And it was: in my archives are all kinds of expositions, from travelblogs of places he’s been with me to ridiculous stories of my experiences and my childhood. We both laughed a bunch while reading.

So, dear reader, while this site is not as busy as it used to be, rest assured that it’s not going anywhere, either. My archives will stay where they are, and the old page layouts will stick around, too (not least because they’re hard-coded). New posts will appear as they may, as they always have. And someday, probably fairly soon, my kids will discover the really cringe-worthy stuff in my archives, and I’ll have some explaining to do… but it will be worth it.

The year in cities, 2018

Now in its fourteenth year, because a 20-year-old blog deserves some traditions, however unexciting.

As ever, all the places I went in 2018 and spent the night. Repeat visits denoted with an asterisk. Interestingly, for the first time in many years, I don’t think we spent the night in either Livingston (with my parents) or New City (my wife’s).

New York *
Arlington, VA *
Palm Beach Gardens, FL *
Grapevine, TX
San Diego, CA *
Alexandria, VA
Williamstown, MA
Gloucester, MA *
Edgartown, MA *
Portland, OR *
Lake Buena Vista, FL *
Wheeling, IL
Orlando, FL *
Washington, DC *

Looking back

Last month, the Ideapad turned 20. Twenty years is a long time to do anything, as many of my fellow early bloggers can attest. Those who have kept at it since the turn of the century have my appreciation, not only as like-minded fellows, but also for maintaining the independent spirit of the early web, where our dreams were self-made and limitless.

I have on my server a bookmarks list, saved out of some version Netscape or Internet Explorer, that is now fifteen years old (May 6, 2003, to be exact). It’s a nice flat HTML file so all the links in it are clickable. To celebrate two decades of blogging, I thought I’d republish the list as-is, click through to all the blogs I once had bookmarked, and report on them here. Let’s see how the independent web of 2003 has persisted to 2018! (Hint: it’s doing pretty darned well, all things considered.)

Still publishing!—has posted in the past 12 months
Maybe still publishing—live with posts, but none in 2018
In amber—not active, but defending the web from linkrot
N.B. Many of the links here are still active but don’t point to the pages they did back then. Caveat clicker.


37signals’ Signal vs. Noise Still publishing!
Anil Dash Still publishing!
Nick Denton
Boing Boing … Wonderful Things Still publishing! Still publishing!
megnut In amber
Noise Between Stations Maybe still publishing!
The Morning News Still publishing! Maybe still publishing
Mighty Girl Still publishing!
whatever, whenever
nothing, and lots of it Still publishing!
Andre Torrez Still publishing!
Ftrain_ Main Ftrain Maybe still publishing
defective yeti
Witold Riedel NYC Still publishing! (over here)
bazima chronicles
hello, kitten.
Izzle! Izzle pfaff! In amber
Mastication is normal
petit hiboux .. the owl in winter. In amber Still publishing!
Choire Sicha
East West Magazine

Not Updated Daily

Cardhouse Still publishing!
50 cups of coffee _ strange brew _ never the same girl twice
metascene– There ain’t no Sanity Clause
stating the obvious In amber
maybe i still am!
Acts of Volition Still publishing!
jeans and a t-shirt In amber
What Do I Know
SHARPEWORLD Still publishing!


Take a penny, leave a penny. Still–er, never mind Still active!
blogdex – the weblog diffusion index
Daypop Top 40 Links
What’s Happening In amber
Metafilter _ Community Weblog Still active!

More blogs

ToT Days of Self-Contemplation and Soul Searching
ODonnellWeb Still publishing (an email)
_usr_bin_girl _ ( just a digital girl ) _ blurbs from the web
Backup Brain
Scripting News Still publishing!
dangerousmeta! Made it to April 2018
365 Days Project Still publishing! Still publishing!
Q Daily News
Living Can Kill You – In amber
Jerry Kindall
David Galbraith’s weblog
Nedward von Suckahs In amber
eatonweb blog_ vomiting up the web
The War Against Silence In amber
what is a tigerbunny
Wrap Me Up in It
misc., etc.

Internet, Design, UI blogs

SAP Design Guild In amber
bBlog_ Business intelligence _ XPLANE
Boxes and Arrows
In My Experience… Home In amber
XPLANE _ xblog (The visual thinking weblog.)
Joel on Software Still publishing!
ia- news for information architects Still publishing!
dive into mark
Daring Fireball Still publishing!


XOXO 2018

The biggest thing I can say about XOXO, having attended this weekend for the first time since 2013, is that I feel pretty much exactly how I felt the last time around, and I wish I had made it to all the ones in between.

Very few events of any scale manage to be open, accepting, encouraging, inspiring, surprising, energizing and downright fun. Despite lots of comments about how big the conference has gotten—two thousand attendees this year—I felt the same warmth and community (albeit with a bigger challenge to find old friends in the throng) as I had previously.

While I had to miss the last day, I soaked up a wide array of XOXO’s programming, including all of the conference’s first day, most of Art + Code and Story, and a good amount of the tabletop and arcade rooms. I was nearly overwhelmed with the amount of creativity and inspiration that surrounded me. The talks I saw brought tears to my eyes, both happy and sad, on more than one occasion. Like last time, the net result is like experiencing a sea swell on a boat: I’ve been pulled up to unexpected heights, and I’m wide-eyed as I see where it will take me.

And while I was thrilled to spend my time with familiar faces, the natural new connections make this event special. An XOXO attendee can successfully strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone wearing a badge. So when I’m there, that’s exactly what I try to do. Grab a meal with six people I’d just met? Turn people you admire into the people you know? Say hello to every person who sits down next to me, transforming unfamiliar faces into friendly ones? Yes, yes and yes.

Life in a broader sense doesn’t always work like XOXO works. Heck, we as people don’t work every day the way we function in this setting; I know I’m not always one to smile at strangers. Yet Andy and Andy continue to bring their universe to life, and I am again grateful for having been there.