I’m just a hunk of, hunk of burning feed

If you read this blog mainly through my news feed, please note that I’m now using FeedBurner to supply the site’s RSS feed. The old feed is still operational, and will remain so for a while, but I would like to discontinue it in the near future.
So in your news reader of choice, please update the Retrophisch news feed:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/retrophisch.
You can also click on the feed link on the main page, or the RSS button in Safari’s address bar, or that of your auto feed-detecting browser of choice.

A Talledega night and a real type-cast film

Last evening, my bride and I had a date night, which included a viewing of Will Ferrell’s Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Two enthusiastic thumbs-up, a Retrophisch™ Recommends.
I laughed so hard at certain points, I cried. The out takes/”alternative scenes” at the end were worth the price of admission alone. My wife was right; the movie is so ridiculous, it’s funny. Too often, comedy films are just outright ridiculous, and you’re lucky to let loose with a few chuckles. Pure ridiculousness will only get you so far with the movie-viewing public. Pure ridiculousness in the hands of a master like Ferrell, however, will garner you big laughs. Such is the case with Talledega Nights, which even includes an exceptionally brief homage to the late Dale Earnhardt. (If you blink, you’ll miss it; it’s that fast. Fittingly appropriate, given the subject matter.)
There’s a lot to worry about in our world: Israel under attack in the Middle East; Iran and North Korea with nuclear power; Islamofascist terrorism; oil prices still way too high; our jobs; our families. Sometimes, we just need a good laugh, to forget about all the troubles for a couple of hours, and Talledega Nights fills the bill. Go see it.

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In what may be the ultimate example of type-casting, there is a documentary under way about Helvetica. (It’s a font, for those of you who don’t know. Microsoft’s Arial is a blatant rip-off wanna-be of it.) I am very tempted to nab a shirt.
Director Gary Hustwit:

Why make a film about a typeface, let alone a feature documentary film about Helvetica? Because it’s all around us. You’ve probably already seen Helvetica several times today. It might have told you which subway platform you needed, or tried to sell you investment services or vacation getaways in the ads in your morning paper. Maybe it gave you the latest headlines on television, or let you know whether to ‘push’ or ‘pull’ to open your office door.

Since millions of people see and use Helvetica every day, I guess I just wondered, “Why?” How did a typeface drawn by a little-known Swiss designer in 1957 become one of the most popular ways for us to communicate our words fifty years later? And what are the repercussions of that popularity, has it resulted in the globalization of our visual culture? Does a storefront today look the same in Minneapolis, Melbourne and Munich? How do we interact with type on a daily basis? And what about the effects of technology on type and graphic design, and the ways we consume it?
Look for the film in 2007.
[Via the Iconfactory.]

Miscellany

Michael has announced that C-Command now has forums for all of its products.
I helped him do some testing with the forum boards–which means we spent about ten minutes on it–and if you’re a SpamSieve or DropDMG user, I hope to see you around the virtual water cooler.

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Messy networks.
Dear God in Heaven.
[Via Firewheel Design.]

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Just when I thought there was never going to be anything interesting on Yahoo’s corporate blog, they have races with toy babies triggered by the licking of lollipops.

The Anti-Semitism Story No One’s Talking About

Jeff Jacoby has a great piece on he disparity in reporting regarding Mel Gibson’s drunken racial slurs, and Naveed Haq’s murderous rampage at a Jewish center in Seattle. The latter is yet another example, as Jacoby points out, noting other such type attacks which have taken place over the past few years, of members of the “Religion of Peace” suddenly developing “Sudden Jihad Syndrome“.
A Christian, who is such a rabid anti-abortionist that he begins killing doctors who perform the operation, is news fodder for weeks. But if a Muslim walks up to the counter of the Israeli-owned airline El Al, killing two people as he sprays the ticket area with bullets, it’s quickly swept under the proverbial rug. What is the media’s reluctance to point out what we know to be true: that the so-called “Religion of Peace” shows, day in and day out by the behavior of its adherents, that it is anything but.

Miscellany

Photo mosaics have become popular; I have one of Darth Vader, made up of different scenes from Episodes 4-6.
There are many tutorials online for making your own photo mosaics, but John Tolva has one where you create your mosaic with LEGOs. You’ll need Photoshop, and a healthy bank account for all those LEGO pieces you’ll be buying.
[Via Photojojo.]

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How close to you and yours does a convicted sex offender live? Find out, thanks to Family Watchdog.
[Via Daily Dose.]

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Happy Birthday to the United States Coast Guard, which turns 216 years old today.

ATPM 12.08

The August issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available.
Wes kicks things off by noting in this month’s Bloggable that we still really don’t have much to discuss in the Mac blogosphere but the departure of Pilgrim and Doctorow from the Mac-using citizenry. My hunch is that Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference is going to change that very shortly.
The plenteous Mark Tennent is tired of all the beeping in the world, and wishes Apple would turn its interface design skills loose on washers, dryers, and car radios. He’d also like to see a new sort of computer expo, where systems could be tested, real world-style, much like the test drive of an automobile before purchase.
Publisher, editor-in-chief, developer, hiker, and all-around nice guy Michael Tsai returns to the pages of ATPM with a look at Mac OS X’s increasing stability. Miraz Jordan continues her series on web accessiblity, this time putting Sandvox under the microscope. Sylvester is making good use of the summertime, cannonballing in to the world of Automator.
Angus Wong ponders the new Zune music player from Microsoft, and the notion of corporate character. Sylvester uses all of that Automator learning to send automated birthday greetings. ATPM reader Robert Reis traveled to Germany to cheer on Trinidad & Tobago in the FIFA World Cup, and was kind enough to share some of his shots with us for this month’s desktop pictures selection.
Lee spends a good deal of time in InDesign, so he was a shoo-in for the review of O’Reilly’s Adobe InDesign CS2 One On One. Paul upgrades his home entertainment center with the addition of Elgato’s EyeTV 250, and, fittingly enough, the Sylvester Roque edition of ATPM closes with his review of the how-to book, Keep It Simple With GarageBand.
We have several open positions on the ATPM staff, and we’re looking to add regular reviewers to our stable of writers. If you’re interested, please [drop us a line](mailto:editor@atpm.com?subject=Reviews Writer).

Grieving

There are some people in this world who have no concept of grieving over the death of a pet. “What’s the big deal?” they ask. “It was just a cat/dog/bird/hamster.”
On some level, these people do have a point. They are “just” animals. Animals do not experience emotions the way humans do. Every reaction you see from an animal is conditioned, instinctual, or in-bred. A cat does not love. A dog does not love. Yet their domesticated behavior may, to our own emotions, look like expressions of love, and for that, we love them in return. We know in the back of our minds that when the cat plops itself down on our chest when we’re trying to go to sleep, purring contentedly, it’s not really saying, “I loooooooove you”, but then we don’t really care. We smile, give the cat a little rub on the head, maybe on the nose, and some long body strokes, and the purring only gets louder. It’s a great way to fall asleep. We love the cat for this. (Especially when you’re the only one in the house the cat does this with.)
People who ask “What’s the big deal?” when a pet like that dies will never get it.
I’m so happy that Tom and Tiff are not among those people. I never had the opportunity to meet Guinness, though Tom and I shared many a conversation about him, and our other cats.
Of all the photos of Guinness Tom has shared with me, and the rest of the world, this one is among my favorites:

There is something so very cat about it, and Guinness was a cat’s cat.
Kelly and I lost our first pet, our Pembroke Welch Corgi, Linus, in April 2002, having had our little pup for ten wonderful years. We know the heartbreak the Bridges are going through, because while Guinness was not a human, he was not a baby, a child, he was also not “just” a cat. He was a member of the family.

Six years

It wasn’t much of a first post, just kind of a “Hello, world, this is me…” sort of thing. Really feeble, looking back on it now. But it’s been six years; the blogging portion of my self is now a first grader. Though, given how rapidly the pace moves in the blogosphere, I’m sure we have something akin to dog-years multiplication to determine the “true” age of our blog-selves.
A lot changes in six years.
Since that first post on August 1, 2000, there have been four national elections, including two presidential elections. The first was bitterly contested, though even so, still showed the world how the rule of law can prevail and the change of power in a nation can be handled without violence and bloodshed. Our nation was brutally attacked on September 11, 2001, and a vast majority of our citizens finally realized the fact that we had been at war with radical Islam for more than two decades. I pray we continue to realize that fact, and what it means to maintain resolve for the next two decades.
Six years ago, not too many people had heard of Google, now officially a verb as well as a proper noun. Now, it has supplanted Yahoo as the number-one search destination on the Internet, though the latter still reigns as the top portal site. Microsoft has managed to ship only one new version of its flagship operating system. In six years. One.
Steve Jobs’ return to Apple has reversed the company’s fortune. Though our favorite fruit company may not be shipping any more Macintosh units now than it was prior to Jobs coming back, it has changed the face of the computing and music industries. The iMac. The G4. The G5. iTunes. The iPod.
Six years ago, the words “Macintosh” and “Intel” would never be found in the same sentence together, except for a Mac zealot excoriating the chip maker, or vice versa. Even more outlandish would have been the notion of a dual-boot Macintosh: one that can run the Mac OS or Windows. Pull that off, Michael Dell.
The weblog has become a serious element of what is called “New Media”, the power of the blog leading to, among other things, the exposure of Jayson Blair as a fraud, the ouster of Trent Lott as Senate Majority Leader, and, ultimately, the end of Dan Rather’s career as a major network news anchor. Web designers and programmers are able to do things now they could only dream about six years ago, as we witness the rise of “Web 2.0”. Six years ago, RSS (define it however you will) wasn’t a blip on anyone’s radar, and Atom wasn’t even a seed in the minds of its creators, yet today “feeds” are an integral part of the online experience.
Six years ago, I had one site. Today, besides this one, I maintain two others.
Six years ago, my wife and I hadn’t really been on a vacation in the previous five years. Since then, we’ve been to the Hawaiian Islands three times, Santa Fe, San Francisco, New York, the mountains of Arkansas, New England, and Wyoming. Six years ago, I was beginning to renew a love with photography, thanks to my first digital camera. My father planted the seed of this love, giving me his old 35mm camera when I went on the yearbook staff my senior year in high school. I was looking through my senior year book a month or so ago, and was fascinated by the number of photographs therein that were mine. Now, I don’t have to wait for photos to be printed to display them.
Six years ago, I was still in the beginnings of online friendships that are now deeper than I thought could be, having met, in person, these guys only a few times. Lee, Michael, Rob: my life is richer because of your being in it. I have invested in new friendships, and hope to grow some more.
Six years ago, a guy at the office was just a coworker who happened to be a fellow Christian. Today, he is a close friend, who helped me come in from the cold, get grounded and real about my faith. He helped me rediscover a love for baseball I had left behind in college, and has been a steady confidant. FranX, you embody the principal of iron sharpening iron, and I cannot tell you how much I value our friendship.
Six years ago we were in one house, in another city within the DFW metroplex. Today, we’re in a bigger house, in a slightly smaller town next to the city we used to live in. Six years ago, close friends from college were a fifteen-minute drive from our old house; today, they’re a two-minute walk away. We have new friends, who have changed our lives in profound ways, as we have witnessed the births of children, the failures in marriage, and the changing of jobs, both for them as well as ourselves.
Six years ago, my wife was on the road to partnership in a major Dallas law firm. Now, she’s working for the subsidiary of a Fortune 500, an in-house counsel with better hours and quality of life. Six years ago, I was employed by a Fortune 100 telecommunications company. Now, I’m three years past being laid off from that same company, the skill sets I thrived on there deteriorating as I struggle within myself to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I left behind coworkers who had become more than that, they were friends, and I thank God I am still able to keep in touch with them, even if for the most part it is through instant messages and e-mail.
Six years ago, my wife and I were beginning the long, hard road to become parents. Three years ago, we were handed a little miracle, and I mean that in every sense of the word: born nine weeks early, you would never know it to look at our son today. We are truly blessed.
Six years ago, we were still wandering in the wilderness of faith. We did not have a church home, and my walk with God consisted mainly of reading Christian literature and listening to Christian-branded music. Thanks to some of those new friends mentioned above, we now have a place to call home, and my own walk has been deepened as a result.
Six years ago, I was not as happy as I am now. I like to think I was pretty happy then, but in six years I’ve grown in many ways (while staying pretty juvenile in others). I am closer to my Lord, I am closer to my wife–my best friend and love, who puts up with and accepts me–and I am closer to friends, of which there are more today than before. I have this beautiful little boy in my life whom I love more than I ever thought was possible to love another human being.
Jobs come and jobs go. One career is left for one in another field. Scenery changes. Technology changes. The majority of the people in your life will pass before your eyes as if vapor. Six years ago, I didn’t have as clear of a focus on the really important things of life, and today I do.
A lot changes in six years.
I’m so looking forward to the next six.