Tuesday, November 27, 2007

State Quarter Quiz

I've been a collector of state quarters since the first year they came out. In fact, just this year I collected the Washington State quarter, an event I've been anticipating for eight years!

I got a quiz in the mail a few days ago testing ones knowledge of the backs of the state quarters with the text removed. Go ahead, give it a try. I got 17 out of 20 right, but some of them are mighty tricky.

Seeing the quarter backs without the words made me appreciate the state histories and landscapes that we so often forget about. Divorced from my contemporary perception, I begin to remember that each of the states has their own complicated story of what it means to be from Utah or from Kentucky or wherever. Sometimes I wonder if our obsession with being "true" Americans has devalued our own state identities, which have a rich value in of themselves.

If you didn't the first time, take the quiz and reflect, for just a moment, on how little we really know about our 49 other neighbors.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Life is Sweet

I realize it's been an unforgivably long time since I last posted... and that post was some strange rant about the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which doesn't exactly make for the most stimulating reading. I apologize and hope to do better in the coming months. But let me take this opportunity to tell you, my faithful readers, what's up in my world.

First, I'm writing this post from the deck of my new apartment, sitting in my new deck furniture, overlooking palm trees and the pool, and only a block from the beach. The complex itself is sort of old, but it's undergoing a lot of refurbishment, with new appliances, new landscaping, structural improvements, and a "purge" of sorts to remove members of the community who are not quite responsible tenants. The rent is a tad steep, but I figure if I'm going to live in a California beach town, I ought to live by the beach.

Sarah and I just finished a bit of a spending spree to decorate our new place. In addition to the deck furniture, we bought a sofa and this sort of mini-couch sleeper thing, a super cool "storage" ottoman, a side table, a "C" table (truly the most brilliant development in furniture production in the past 50 years), a table lamp and a floor lamp.

And how, you might be wondering, did I manage to afford all of this? No, not mail fraud, but that's a good guess. No, it turns out that my skills as a webdeveloper are in high demand, especially when you have good customer relation skills. After founding Pro Bono Geek a few months ago I ended up earning way more than I had ever expected. So much I felt compelled to go on this orgy of spending I described above.

All this time I've been working at Evans Data Corporation. Things were going very well there, with a successful corporate site launch and a massive reorganization of their IT infrastructure. But 40 hours a week at EDC followed by 30+ hours a week doing consulting from home, I was finding myself a bit worn thin. And just around that time I got a job offer to come on full time with Articulated Man as a web developer, making a whole ton more than I was at EDC!

Of course, Pro Bono Geek and Articulated Man are/were essentially competitors, although we had worked on several projects collaboratively. But with my new employment came the end of my private consulting work. Which is great, because I'm still making good money, doing what I enjoy, and I don't have to put in 70+ hours a week to do it. As a bonus -- as in signing bonus -- I was able to get a new car!

That's right, as of this weekend, I'm an official car "possessor." I say posses because I didn't end up buying it outright, but instead I'm leasing it. Still not sure why I decided to go that route, but it felt right at the time and I haven't been able to come up with a slam-dunk argument against it. So, I've got a three year lease and we'll see where I stand at the end of it.

Oh, what kind of car is it? It's a 2008 Magnetic Grey Prius (this is a photo of a 2007... couldn't find a 2008 online). It has a start button, I kid you not, and so long as the key is in my pocket the door unlocks automatically and the car will start without having to put the key in the ignition. The thing is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It's not the kind of car I would say is a blast to drive... not that it's not fun, but it's no sports car. What it is is the kind of car I won't feel bad driving around town to do errands.

Now, the close reader may have been wondering, how was it I was able to move to the beach and yet still get to my old job downtown. That's a good question, and if you didn't think to ask it, you're not paying close enough attention. Either that, or you didn't know me well enough to learn my most closely guarded secret. As a child I never learned how to ride a bike. That's right, never complete with italics and everything. So, when work became a 40 minute walk it was not just a simple matter of hopping on the bike. But with the help of some very dedicated friends I managed to teach myself how at the ripe old age of 26. Now I'm a regular speed machine, zipping up and down the streets of Santa Cruz on my new Trek hybrid bike. It's a hybrid because it's half mountain bike (good for hills and stability) / half street bike (good for going fast).

So, that's the sum of things. I'm headed out now to attend my first Santa Cruz Obama organizers meeting to see if there's something I can do to help with the campaign. Looking forwards to meeting some new people, since the new job is home based.

Thanks to anyone who kept checking during my hiatus, I promise to be better for at least a little while.