Archives » October, 2005

October 27, 2005


Yeah, I’ve been slacking off on writing anything. Days since last post? 10. I’ve been adding a few things over at Around Carson, but mostly it’s just been a dry couple of weeks. I haven’t even been reading blogs as much as usual; those links there on the right have gone unclicked more often than not lately. And so it’s times like this I’m glad I still don’t use an RSS aggregator. Could you imagine how many unread posts I’d be looking at right now?

Today was the last day of the week for us here in Nevada. Tomorrow is when most of us get the day off for Nevada Day, a state holiday that’s really celebrated on Saturday. But you can’t give people Saturday off, since most professionals have it off already, so the State Legislature gave us Friday too. So today really feels like a Friday around here. Everyone leaves the office early, and we’re all looking forward to the three-day weekend. Not that I’ll be having a three-day, personally, since I have to go in to make up some time that I’m short for the week. But, that’s nothing new. I’m always working on the weekends as it is. Sam has started preschool, and it’s Daddy’s job to take him in the morning. So that means getting me up, getting him up, getting both of us dressed, making lunch for both of us, and then taking him to school. Which happens to be in exactly the opposite direction from my office, so after I drop him off I have to backtrack seven miles before I’m finally on the way to work. So I get to work late, and then I usually end up leaving early for one reason or another. The result? Five-hour work days. Am I complaining? No. But it usually means I’ll be working the weekend to make up the time. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty convenient time to do IT anyway. Nobody’s in the office, I can do whatever I want to the servers, I can grab people’s computers and take them to my office for upgrades, I can play podcasts as loud as I want; there are definite advantages to working on the weekend. And this week, Friday is actually part of the weekend. So I’ll be working on Friday this week, which will give me a rare two-day weekend for a change.

There’s a parade and fireworks on Saturday, although I’m not sure if we’ll be going to them. Sometimes the idea of going to the parade is more exciting than actually doing it. You have to go downtown, find a spot to squeeze into the crowd, and stand in one place for two hours. Your reward? Shriners.

Last year we made an especially poor choice in picking where to stand. For some reason, everyone thought that our spot was a good place to cut through the crowd to get to the street. So during the entire course of the parade people were squeezing by me, some of them saying, “Excuse me,” some of them just pushing through, and I’d always have to take a couple of steps to the left to get out of their way, or a couple of steps to the right, and I had Sam in the baby sling so my balance was off anyway, and after the first fifty times it started getting a little old, you know? So if we do go, we’ll have to find a better spot. Maybe along the fence, so nobody can cut through. But then, to get a spot by the fence you have to show up an hour early, and who wants to do that? There are probably people already starting to camp out today to get a good spot. I noticed the grandstands were already set up along Carson Street. So maybe we’ll just skip the parade this year.

Last weekend we went on the Ghost Walk. I had never been on it before, but it’s a big deal around Carson and getting bigger every year. A tour guide takes groups of 50-75 people on a walking tour of Carson City’s west side, stopping along the way to tell stories of the ghosts that haunt the houses. A few of the houses open their doors to the tour groups, and others have little skits going on on the sidewalk. It’s all a lot of fun, and I took over a hundred pictures. I want to sort through them all, pick out some good ones, and write up an in-depth article about the Ghost Walk. I even brought my iRiver along to record the audio, so I’ll have sound files for everyone to download. The problem with a plan that ambitious, though, is that usually it never gets out of the planning stage. That’s a big problem I have. I have this huge idea for what I want to do for the website, but I don’t want to do a half-assed job so I put it off until I have the time to do it right. But that time never comes, and so I end up posting nothing and putting up no pictures. And so it kind of sucks. Sometimes I think I’d be better off just putting up something half-assed, and then making it better when I do get the time. Just my special brand of procrastination, I guess.

The Ghost Walk pauses at the Bliss Mansion.

October 17, 2005

IE Doesn’t Play Nice with Google Maps

Have you ever noticed that your web development time breaks down according to the following chart?

Initial development: 25%
Testing in Firefox: 1%
Testing in Internet Explorer: 10%
Rewriting to work around IE bugs: 64%

I’ve made my life easier by not even testing in IE anymore. That way my life is blissfully happy because I don’t see the IE bugs, and therefore I don’t have to work around them. The downside to this approach is that sometimes those bugs are showstoppers, and I don’t see them until an IE user points them out to me. And that’s why nobody using Internet Explorer was able to view the Around Carson Dining Guide during the last week.

You see, there’s something about the way Google Maps manipulates the DOM that IE doesn’t like, or something. I don’t really know if anyone’s tracked down the exact cause yet, but if you take the example code that Google gives you and just drop it into a page, Internet Explorer will give you an “Operation Aborted” error message and refuse to load the page. Like, it will refuse to load it all together, and it will give you a standard “This page could not be displayed” message in its place. After some digging I found the solution; you can’t just include the Javascript inline like Google tells you to. You have to make the script part of a function, and then call that function from an onload attribute. More details here. And here. And here and here.

Last week I put Google Maps on each page of the Dining Guide, so readers could have a handy map to be able to find the restaurant they were looking for. I tested the pages in Firefox, and everything was working perfectly. So I went to bed, blissfully unaware of what was happening to these pages in IE. For a full week I left the code untouched, and countless people came to the site, got the error, and were driven away. I just now fixed it, so it will work from here on out, until the next bug crops up and it takes me another week to find that one.

Isn’t Internet Explorer 7 out yet?

October 14, 2005

September Ormsby House

Wow, I’m late. No, really late. Here is October, half over, and I’m just now posting the September update to the Ormsby House Gallery. That’s just sad.

You’d think there couldn’t be any more exciting stuff to be done. But you’d be wrong. Go to the update to see where they’re putting paint now!

October 11, 2005

Adding Google Maps to Your Own Site

For a couple of months now I’ve been adding restaurant listings to the Around Carson Dining Guide. I’ve got a database set up, and I just store the restaurant’s name, address, phone number, and maybe a picture and a PDF menu. From there the pages are built dynamically. But something else I’ve been keeping track of, even though I haven’t been using it, is the latitude and longitude of each restaurant, so the system can pinpoint exactly where the place is on the planet. I always had plans to use this data for something cool, but I didn’t do anything with it until yesterday.

Yesterday is when I finally sat down to learn how the Google Maps API works. Google Maps are some of the best maps out there on the web, and their API lets you include a map on your own page, set markers and text boxes, and just generally play around and have fun. So I dug into the API yesterday, and after running through a few of their example scripts, I realized it would be pretty simple to hook into my database, pull the lat/long data out, and plug it right into a Google Map. That’s just what I did, and that’s why if you visit any of the restaurant pages over there (like El Charro Avita, for example), you’ll see a Google Map embedded right there on the page, showing you exactly where the restaurant is. This is so so so much better than what you usually find on the web, which is just an address that links to a MapQuest page, or something else horrible like that. This is an actual, live, embedded map that you can scroll and zoom. And now that I know these maps are so easy to make, you’ll probably find them popping up all over the site. I’m already thinking of ways to make a map showing every restaurant in the city. It really isn’t that hard.

But it’s also a little too in-depth to get into on this site. If you want to learn how to do it, read through the same examples I did. They’re pretty easy to work through. It took me about an hour to learn how to build maps.

On the same topic, I discovered this week. It’s a wiki-style travel guide, where anyone can write or edit articles about the places they’ve visited, or where they live. But it also makes use of Google Maps to show restaurants and nightlife in a city. They even have a really cool interface where if a restaurant doesn’t have lat/long coordinates in their database, you can use an interactive Google Map to set them right in your browser. Talk about kick ass. If World66 takes off it could be a great travel guide. But of course I’m reluctant to add anything to it, because I want my site to be the premier travel guide for Carson City. So what if I’m biased?

October 9, 2005

V&T Railroad Tunnels

My new agenda to drive traffic to Around Carson is to write articles that are only available over there, and then point everyone from this site to them. So that’s why you should go read what I wrote today about the Virginia & Truckee railroad tunnels.

October 7, 2005


Over at Around Carson today, an article on the firehouse that’s scheduled to be demolished on Monday.

Coming soon: demolition pictures!

October 4, 2005

Poor Yinny

Our poor kitty Yin finally came home last week after spending nearly 10 days in the hospital. She hadn’t been eating for a while, and when a cat doesn’t eat, their liver starts processing nothing but fat. But since feline livers aren’t equipped to deal with that much fat, it just builds up in there, making them lose their appetite even more. That then leads to jaundice and liver failure. It’s called Fatty Liver Syndrome, and it can kill them if it’s not caught in time.

Luckily, Yin’s condition was caught in time. But just barely. A couple weeks ago we noticed she wasn’t feeling well. She was losing weight, didn’t have much energy, and didn’t seem to be eating. It had come on so gradually that we hardly caught it, but one day we just couldn’t ignore it anymore. Out kitty wasn’t feeling well. So we took her in to the vet to get checked out. And surprisingly, she got a good report. The vet said she looked fine, just a little sluggish and low energy. Maybe it was a mild kitty flu, she said, and we’ve known this vet for years so we trust her judgement. She took a blood sample just to make there wasn’t some hidden illness, and sent us on our way.

The next morning, Sunday (Sam’s birthday, as a matter of fact), Yin had definitely taken a turn for the worse. Her body temperature was way down, like 20 degrees below normal, she was unresponsive, and she barely had the energy to blink her eyes. This was not good. So we called the vet to arrange an emergency off-hours visit, hopped in the car in our pajamas, and jammed down the road to the animal hospital, ten minutes away. Talk about a long ten minutes. A few years ago our pet rabbit died in our arms during that same drive, so you can imagine the flashbacks we were having as we sped down the highway, holding our poor kitty who seemed to be getting worse by the second. But Yin held on, just barely, and when we arrived the vet whisked her away to a heated blanket and an oxygen mask. Within minutes her condition had improved, slightly, but the vet pulled us aside with the results of yesterday’s blood work: liver failure. That kind of thing cuts right through you, especially when you’ve got a five-year-old cat who’s always been perfectly healthy, and you’re standing in the same hallway where you were just told, eighteen hours before, that the cat was fine. At that point, though, there was nothing else we could do, so we left the kitty to their good care and tried to still have a fun birthday with Sam. Which we managed to do.

For the next week and a half, Yin stayed at the vet. The threat of imminent death disappeared after that first day. Once they gave her an I.V. and started force-feeding her, her temperature rose and she got a little of her energy back. Enough to keep her alive, at least. But then she hit a plateau where she wasn’t getting any better. They still hadn’t reached a firm verdict of FLS yet, so words like “disease” and “cancer” were constantly floating over our heads. We went to visit her, and she was so weak that she could barely lift her head into our hands before she would collapse. It wasn’t until her second week in the hospital that the final diagnosis came back. There was no cancer, no permanent disease, just this fatty liver condition, and that was reversible. And her strength started coming back too, enough so that on Sept. 28th, just last Wednesday, she was finally able to come home.

So Yin’s back with us now, ruling the house and lording over her twin brother, Yang. But she has a long road of recovery still ahead of her. She’s still only at half strength, and spends most of the day just laying in one spot. And she still doesn’t have much of an appetite, so we have to force feed her a liquid diet four times a day. If you look at the above pictures, you can see the feeding tube sticking out of her neck. That tube leads directly into her stomach, and we have to pump 60cc of a specially mixed food through a syringe and into the tube. Four times a day. One of those times being midnight. But, we love our kitty, and she’s going to get through this. She just needs a little help from the monkeys she lives with to get better. And then she’ll be able to go back to being the queen of the house, just like always.

Hurry up and get better, Yin.