Weeknotes #6

Travels Across Texas and Nebraska. Mountains and Memorials.

June 10, 2019

Over the last 11 days I travelled over 3500 miles with my family on two separate back-to-back trips. It has been great but I think we’re all exhausted and looking to stay home for awhile.

The first trip was a wonderful drive out West to Fort Davis, Texas to stay at Indian Lodge. Nestled inside the valley of the Davis Mountains State Park, Indian Lodge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1935, part of FDR’s New Deal. The 39 room complex was built with adobe bricks by two companies of men. It has maintained it’s rustic feel and I wish I could time-travel back to a time before phones and hotel room TVs where the shared lodge space was the main source of entertainment.

A day later we were joined by our friends the Wheelers. It was nice hiking with kids and venturing over to Balmorhea State Park (another CCC project) to swim in its incredible spring fed swimming pool. It’s truly an oasis in the desert. It was sheer joy doing stupid dives off of the diving board. At one point I lost my Apple Watch at the bottom of the 20’ deep end after going off the high dive, but I paid a local saint $25 to dive down and fetch it off the grate. Exhausted from our day of fun, we went back to the hotel. The drive from Balmorhea to Fort Davis might be the prettiest and most majestic drive I’ve ever done.

One of the biggest reasons to head out to West Texas is to visit the McDonald Observatory and stare at the stars. While we did venture up the mountain to see the world’s second largest telescope, unfortunately for us, we have small kids who can’t stay up late and stormy weather obscured the sky. Not a total loss, however. We were rewarded instead with some big lightning storms and a double rainbow at sunset!

🌈🌈

We drove back on Monday to squeeze in a day of work and a few loads of laundry before our next trip on Wednesday.

Our second trip was a flight to Nebraska for a memorial service for my uncle Bill. My brother Brian and his family who live in South Dakota met at our dad’s house in Omaha. We live so far apart, it’s good to see each other any chance we get. We spent the day with grandma and grandpa, aunts, uncles, and even more cousins tramping around the incredible Henry Doorley Zoo (maybe my favorite zoo in America).

Then my brother and our families caravan’d to Lincoln to meet up with my mom’s side of the family and in order to head to Dorchester, Nebraska to spread my uncle’s ashes. This was my first trip to Dorchester which holds a lot of my family’s history. My great grandfather ran the bank and built the town’s first grain elevator; two big institutions for a small farm town. After a few brief words, we spread my uncle Bill’s ashes on a his friend’s alfalfa farm. The local American Legion Hall were kind enough to open their doors to us for a reception.

We then returned to Lincoln to bury some of the ashes with along side my grandparents. Walking around the graveyard, my aunt Carol showed me some of the research she’s been doing on Ancestry. I learned that both of my Great Great Great Great Grandfathers on my mother’s side fought in the American Revolutionary War. And one of my relatives was the Postmaster General in the 1800s, which explains my love of government bureaucracy.

As for my uncle Bill, it’s tough to find the right words. For most of his life he was a vagabond artist but spent the last years of his life as a neo-conservative sitting in a La-Z-Boy watching FoxNews all day. It’s hard to grasp that change and frankly not all my memories are positive. But he was a supportive brother and friend to my mother after my step-father’s suicide and for that I’m eternally thankful. So thank you, Bill. Rest in peace.

Read

  • Google I/O 2019: What’s new with Chrome and the Web (blog.chromium.org)
    Lots new in Chrome. 3 features to call attention to: Portals seem really cool but I’m not sure they’re ready yet. Paul Lewis uses Web Assembly to polyfill a scanner AI, seems notable. Privacy by limiting 3rd party scripts is mentioned as being important. I may have some more thoughts, but my conspiracy-o-meter is going off and I think Google senses the profitability of third-party tracking closing… which is why they’re pursuing Web Packaging which allows Google to serve and track your content from its first party origin!
  • Inside Microsoft’s surprise decision to work with Google on its Edge browser (verge.com)
    A peek behind the scenes at Microsoft’s decision to kill EdgeHTML and switch to Chromium.
  • Airline Logos (reaganray.com)
    Any post my co-worker Reagan creates makes me stop during the day. This one is no different and I’m overwhelmed with design nostalgia.
  • Columbia & Elm; Fairfield & Gloucester. (ethanmarcotte.com)
    Ethan gets at something I’ve been thinking a lot about, Accessibility is more of a spectrum of support than it is a binary result.
  • Lighthouse (ericwbailey.design)
    “If that means having to petition the king, so be it.” Eric revives the argument that Lighthouse Accessibility scores should factor into search rankings and takes a look at prior precedent where Google has “put its thumb on the scale”.
  • Why I Don’t Believe in Empathic Design (theblog.adobe.com)
    I’ve noticed some push back against “Empathy” in design lately. I understand it I guess. It’s such a broad and hollow term. Don Norman advocates for actually talking to users.
  • Is There a Connection Between Undocumented Immigrants and Crime? (nytimes.com)
    From the Nobody is Surprised department.
  • Creating front-end prototypes for a great user experience (heartinternet.uk)
    Adekunle Oduye shares a bit of his prototyping process and I’m pleased to discover our processes are very similar. Static sites are a great way to experiment. My head nearly fell off nodding along to “With a front-end prototype, you can design every nuance of the product. From loading animations to UI microinteractions, all of these can be designed to the smallest detail”.
  • Understanding the Design Process through Avengers: Endgame (Khoi Vinh)
    I really enjoyed Khoi’s take on prototyping wrapped up in an Avengers analogy. Around slide 103 it really takes off saying “There is no substitute for a prototype.”
  • Typography in Design Systems (danmall.me)
    I like this text-preset-7 strategy for type. It allows you to have as many presets as you want independent of heading sizes.
  • I Staked Out My Local Domino’s to See Just How Accurate its Pizza Tracker is (melmagazine.com)
    I have a vested interest in pizza websites, but this is an amazing and entertaining piece of rogue journalism. Goes to show how one of people’s most favorite features turns out to be a lot of UX slight of hand. Perceived performance is stronger than actual performance.
  • A report from the AMP Advisory Committee Meeting (shkspr.mobi)
    A takedown of AMP and all its lies from a member of the AMP Advisory Committee.
  • Cake or Death: AMP and the Worrying Power Dynamics of the Web (trib.tv)
    Another takedown of AMP, this one focusing mostly on the blackmailing and power dynamics of AMP.

Watch

Here’s a recording of my Webinar on Prototyping with Aquent Gymnasium. I really enjoyed talking about something I firmly believe in: Code Prototypes. If you listen closely you can hear my daughter screaming in the background towards the end. What is she screaming? “I don’t want to be quiet anymore!” … which is why I have an office now.

Liz Jackson is an incredible speaker. I appreciate that she so honestly shares her perspective and experience, nudging us towards a more inclusive world. I’ve watched a few of her talks now.