How do they deliver pizzas (or anything else) in Managua?

I used to deliver pizzas in college. I quickly learned my way around Bowling Green, Ohio, as well as any cop or ambulance driver.

It’s a grid city, 100 street number jumps for each block and even numbers are always on the right as you’re driving away from the center of town. Simple and, in the Midwest at least, you’ll rarely get lost using this system.

Managua, Nicaragua, apparently has a very different system where up can easily mean down and vice-versa, there are no house numbers and there are no street names— it’s a city of 2 million people without a map.

Posted in Culture

Misty in the valley

Sometimes I forget I live in a beautiful town.

Our specific building is surrounded by asphalt. The gas station and parking lot across the street are nicely landscaped, but it’s a gas station and a parking lot. Our block of Jefferson Street has one tree. The totality of green on our property is a four-square-foot flower and ivy garden. During the summer it’s pure heat beating down and radiating up.

Many days I mindlessly bike to work, making turns on muscle memory more than anything else. Bike to work, bike home, rinse and repeat.

Today it rained softly the entire day. It was dark and foggy. But I couldn’t take my eyes off the day. The bluffs surrounding town had a watercolor feel. The gold and orange leaves popped in contrast to the gray sky.

Tonight Darlene and I could hear the repeated warning blares of tows moving down the Ohio River in the mist. Driving into downtown on U.S. 421, I could see the city’s lights reflect off the mist to backlight the valley forests.

I was reminded.

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At the speed of Google

I am quickly finding myself intolerant of slow software, slow websites, slow boot times and slow response times.

I suspect part of the reason is my job. A person walks up and asks me a question at the library. We talk for a bit so I understand what they need and I dig in. So far, so good.

But then time shifts on us. Maybe her child is yanking on her pants or he has to make it back to work after lunch. They are suddenly eager to leave answer or not. Invariably, at this moment, our catalog will hang mid-screen or Adobe Reader takes its time crawling out from under its software rock.

Why does this happen when all I want to do is give them a good answer? The overall experience leaves me frustrated wanting to toss the computer into the street. Am I simply becoming too impatient or is the software really that bad?

This weekend, my wife and I worked collaboratively on a budget using Google Spreadsheets. It was quick, responsive and painful (though not because of the software). Later I opened a spreadsheet in Excel and it was slow and painful (this time because of the software).

While Google’s web software is not visually compelling, their software generally works and works fast. The recent Gmail update has cemented this perception in my mind.

Now, if software doesn’t meet the Google bar, I’m disappointed. I’m realizing I expect everything to be at the speed of Google.

On the flip side, speed is purely perception. When you type a search into Google and get a half million results in 0.23 seconds, that’s really fast! Yet, how often are people actually waiting quite a while finding an “answer” through all the noise? In that time you could have called a librarian.

I say that only partly tongue in cheek because my expectations (as well as everyone elses) are raised by Google. I now want every tool I’m using to be good and fast— life (if not the time I can get to answer a reference question) is too short for anything else.

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Great vacation, photos coming...

Darlene and I just returned from a vacation in Buffalo, New York. We went to visit my mom, which would have been wonderful anywhere, but the three of us had a blast because Buffalo is such a great town.

The city has it’s problems — notably high taxes and deterioration in some parts of town due to de-population. Yet Buffalo is chock full of arts, culture, architecture and food!

Some examples…

  • Buffalo has more Frank Lloyd Wright than any city outside of Chicago.
  • Elmwood Village was named one of the 10 greatest neighborhoods in the country by the American Planning Association. It’s full of Victorian homes, great restaurants and cool indy stores and galleries (I found a cool hemp messenger bag here).
  • The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has probably the second best contemporary art collections in the county.
  • They have the best grocery stores in Buffalo— Wegmans, Dash’s and the Lexington Co-op Market.

That said, here are some photos I posted on Flickr.

Unfortunately, I quickly ran into their free account limits and don’t have $25 to go unlimited at this moment. So I’m slowly working on uploading larger galleries on my photos page. This will happen more quickly once I figure out my photo uploader.

Disclaimer: I grew up in Buffalo, but after all the “eeeww Buffalo” I’ve heard over the years, I am truly amazed at how fun it was to visit.

Finally… For those wondering where I disappear to for weeks on end, I’ve just been busy with life. We managed to get Darlene’s studio re-opened for the first time in two years and I’ve been moonlighting doing work for a web designer in town. When the day is done, I just haven’t been in the mood to blog. It’s kind of like exercise, when I get into a rhythm it happens. If I quit for a couple of days all hell breaks lose.

Posted in Life

Layer Tennis

Now this is a sport a design geek can appreciate.

Layer Tennis is a competition between designers. The first serves up a design to the second who must riff on the design to return the serve. The designs volley back and forth 10 times in the contest.

The first match was a hoot with puns and twists galore. It was much more fun than watching real tennis…

Check out the opening match

Posted in Culture

I nearly had a bat to the head

I’m suddenly not as tired as I was 10 minutes ago.

I was just turning out the lights at my bedside when I heard a loud “thwak” and something shot past my face.

Stunned, I flipped on the lights and looked around trying to figure out what just happened. I finally looked down and on my bedside table was one dead bat with a deep mark across his head.

We’ve had bats swoop through from time to time (we have a conveniently porous 160+year-old building), but it never struck me that one would meet its end by flying into our ceiling fan. The speed at which the good-sized bat flew past me, death must have been instant.

What can I say, the fan is on high as the days are in the upper 90s. The fan is a Hunter, but I never thought of taking the brand-name seriously.

Posted in Life

...like seven inches from a noon day sun

I’m just another blogger complaining about the weather. I have nothing to add beyond saying “it’s a hot one.” At least my fellow Madison blogger has fun with Marilyn Monroe and Senator Inohofe.

We’ve had highs in the upper 90s since Aug. 2 with J.T. reporting a high 101 today. We have another two days of upper 90s still in the forecast. Last night it didn’t even drop below 80.

As much as I have adapted to my southern Indiana home, my thick New York blood just doesn’t deal well with this scorching weather.

I did get smart though. Before coming to bed, I took a cool shower and promptly stood in front of an air conditioner.

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