Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Sabbatical update, and what I've been doing, part 4

As my ten loyal readers will no doubt know, I have been “on sabbatical” for the last year. That’s really just a nice way of saying unemployed, of course, but in my case it was by choice.

It hardly seems a year has passed since I left CNET Networks. It’s been a few months longer than originally intended, but so far that isn’t really a problem. I had a couple freelance gigs from September through December, and they’ve helped pay the bills, and Velma and I are financially pretty stable. We’re pretty frugal too.

But the plan was to take nine months or so to do my side projects and take some time off, and to be looking for full-time work by December at the latest. Now it’s January and a whole bunch of delays (some good ones, some merely annoying) in the past six weeks meant I still haven’t finished my portfolio.

I’ve been working hard at it, at the same time trying to take care of all the other little things that life throws at you, like doing laundry and taking the cat to the vet. And yeah, being just too brain-dead some days to get very much accomplished.

But I’ve been making a lot of progress on it, and I hope to be out interviewing in the next month or so (some of that depends on how the job hunt itself goes; I hear it’s a little tough out there these days, y’know?).

Anyway, my ten, dear, wonderful loyal readers will also know that I’ve been keeping track of what I've been doing every day for the past year, and I’ve posted long lists here for Jenny to read (she’s the only one who reads them all the way through, I’m convinced). This one only covers December and January, so it’s not so bad.

If you missed the previous ones and you want to bore yourself to tears, here’s list #1, list #2, and list #3.

List #4, started December 7:
  • Billed clients.
  • Completed documentation for my September–December client project.
  • Made a list of things to do and prioritize in order to accomplish the enews.org site redesign.
  • Optimized images for the new portfolio pages.
  • Started taking notes on things like HTML/CSS, naming conventions, and stuff like that, so I can later write a case study about upgrading my entire site for the first time in years.
  • Ate pie.
  • Drank lots of tea to try to stay warm in our frigid flat.
  • Regularly downed several daily tablespoons of a vile liquid Velma made from garlic, vinegar, honey, and glycerine, which she says is supposed to keep me from getting sick. Of course, she already is sick, so I’m just trying to avoid getting what she’s got (again). Last time sucked donkey balls.
  • Registered three new domains relevant to a side project I’ve been working on for about a year.
  • Dealt with landlord yet again, this time over an electrical issue.
  • Posted plenty of distractions for my adoring public.
  • Went to REI to buy down-lined bootie-slipper things that Velma suggested would keep my feet warm in our frigid flat. They work!
  • Ordered a book online from 1913 that Velma told me she wanted. Turned out it was a set of three (she only told me about one of them), and she wanted the whole set |: /
  • Went downtown with Velma to the AT&T store to merge our mobile accounts and then upgrade to iPhones. Then over to the Apple store for protective silicone sleeves and matte touchscreen covers. Also bought a new keyboard. Then spent the evening downloading apps from the AppStore.
  • Spent many, many days coding pages of my new portfolio design.
  • Tried out some more jQuery stuff for interactions on the enews.org redesign.
  • Sent a quick email to my local District Supervisor urging him to support the Do Not Mail Resolution in San Francisco.
  • Added a lot of movies to my Netflix queue.
  • Installed Silverlight and watched my first streaming movie from Netflix.
  • Bought some Pixar DVDs and some books from Amazon that I’ve been wanting for a long time.
  • Generated six (slightly) different PDFs for a client who had lots of typos and changes.
  • Downloaded some free Photoshop brushes.
  • Updated some journal entries:
  • Downloaded more This American Life podcasts.
  • Installed a few new Firefox extensions.
  • Sent a second email to a clothing company asking them for washing instructions for a shirt I got with no tags. Still got no response. Bastards.
  • Registered our car’s new tires (useful in case of recall). Big O’s website actually has some really good basic information on tire maintenance, etc.
  • Burned DVDs of wedding photos for friends.
  • Went through a ridiculously convoluted uninstall/install process to get my Canon LiDE 50 scanner working again on Mac OS X Leopard, since Canon is terrible at keeping its older drivers up to date and their software totally sucks.
  • Made a page on Facebook for Ozark Handspun.
  • Uploaded some photos to Facebook.
  • Did a little brushing up on history, reading the Wikipedia pages about:
  • Decided, with Velma, which nonprofits we wanted to support with year-end contributions, wrote letters and checks. Also wrote a lengthy entry about them that took about two days to compile.
  • Designed and coded Mark & Velma’s 2008 Holiday Gift for Our Friends & Family mini-website.
  • Organized the files on my Desktop. Twice.
  • Went through some old hard drives preparing to donate them, making sure I wasn’t getting rid of old files I needed.
  • Watched Lemmy videos on YouTube. Jason’s fault.
  • Watched a bunch of movies using Netflix’s new streaming for Macs.
  • Added some books to my Amazon Seller’s Account.
  • Removed about 60,000 junk mail and spam messages from my old email account. Looked into some apps and scripts that will hopefully help me convert ten years of emails and address book entries in Eudora into shiny-new and useful mailboxes in Mail.app and the Mac’s Address Book. We’ll see. Haven’t had time to try them yet.
  • Went out in the cold on New Year’s Day eve, to talk with the cops and EMTs who showed up after a fight broke out in front of our flat, and somebody busted a neighbor’s window (and his hand).
  • Went to Stacey’s to get a couple books for my mom.
  • Went to The Container Store with Velma to get some things to protect opened bags of chips, crackers, and cereal from ants.
  • Went to the new(ish) Amber India restaurant in SF with Velma for New Year’s Eve.
  • Went to my mom’s to celebrate New Year’s Day (and xmas, I suppose, since she’s the only reason I even acknowledge that holiday).
  • Made the foolish mistake of trying to appeal to the logical side of a rude PG&E representative.
  • Checked up on three of my all-time favorite illustrators: Chris Bishop, Michael LaLonde, and Colleen Coover. Sadly, none of them has been incredibly prolific in the year or so since the last time I checked their respective websites.
  • Drew a new caricature of Velma.
  • Watched the MacWorld 2009 Keynote.
  • Went to MacWorld for one afternoon, looked at a lot of stuff, bought a couple small things.
  • Bought a La Cie rugged drive for off-site backup and backed up Velma’s computer.
  • Did some loads of laundry.
  • Made moodboards for photography style for my portfolio.
  • Wasted a lot of time trying to either A) get my old Mac IIci or 7100 running, or B) find some OS X software that will actually decompress the ancient Disk Doubler algorithm. I was so far unsuccessful. And this is the third time I’ve tried to solve this problem in the past two years. Trying one last option: Ordered a $15 USB floppy drive and I’m hoping I can get at old files that way.
  • Culled 15- to 20-year-old data from floppy disks.
  • Went to the AIGA studio tour at Factor Design.
  • Wrote a hand-written letter to go in a package sent to Olya in Australia.
  • Organized some Ozzy CDs.
  • Read some comics.
  • Underwent a lengthy analysis of all my blog archives since 2003 to better inform the design criteria for my new templates. In other words, I looked at all the types of posts (quotations, tiny snippets, off-site links, videos, photos, reviews, poems, Top 5s, how-to articles, miscellany, et al) in order to ensure that my new template design would be flexible enough and have typography and design styles for each of these kinds of posts.
  • Created a new design for the footer of my new site.
  • Hung out with Jason and Phu and Will for a little while on a sunny winter afternoon.
  • Met with a potential new client in the Marina.
  • Checked out Comix Experience on Divisadero that I’ve ben wanting to go to for a long time.
  • Cleaned a lot of cat hair off cloth-covered chair seats. Three times. Damn cat.
  • Played with the cat every day.
  • Transplanted plants after the cat broke a pot during an overzealous leap for the cat toy. Damn cat.
  • Wasted a couple full days trying to get two conflicting JavaScripts to work together.
  • Coded new pages for my site’s redesign.
  • Went to Cicero’s Pizza with Velma and mom.
  • Spent an afternoon with Velma walking around some of my old haunts in Saratoga, where I grew up. Drove by my dad’s house (remarkably, it’s still there, not replaced by a mcmansion yet), visited the creek I used to play in, walked around my elementary/grade school, and went to the library where I used to hang out after school.
  • Went to Jason and Phu’s games party.
  • Took a short hike at Picchetti Ranch in Cupertino with Velma.
  • Dispatched another book sold on my Amazon store.
  • Took Orson to the vet for his regular shots and check-up.
  • Went to a fancy dinner with Velma at Zuni Café, to use a gift certificate that was generously given to us by her boss last year, and to celebrate my one-year “sabbatical.”
  • Caught up on FreakAngels.

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5 Comments

Anonymous Michael said...

Hey Mark,

How about for your next list you include "fixed my RSS feed to include full articles"? :)

Glad you're still keeping busy.

1/31/2009 10:24:00 AM

 
Blogger espd said...

Oh my! An eleventh reader!

Hiya MJ, I didn’t know you still visited these parts. I hope all is well in the Land of OH (or did you head to WA?).

You’re the second person in a month to mention my broken RSS, and although you two are the only people who’ve mentioned my RSS in years, I suppose it’s something I should prioritize.

I’m switching from Blogger to WordPress soon and that should fix things on the RSS front. If anyone has any trouble after that, lemme know.

1/31/2009 05:33:00 PM

 
Blogger monocle_man said...

You went to Cicero's without me? Might be down to nine readers soon. ;)

1/31/2009 07:05:00 PM

 
Blogger fwegan said...

1. wtf is "New Year’s Day eve"?
2. I have that hard drive too! Isn't it cute?

2/01/2009 01:05:00 AM

 
Anonymous Michael said...

It's fixed! W00t! :)

I was in Seattle for a while, now back in the Bay Area. Even as "busy" as I've been, I don't think I've gotten as much done as you.

2/08/2009 11:37:00 PM

 

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