I’m not sure what triggered it, but I’ve started to feel the most minor little rumblings of panic about my upcoming (well, June 2003) move to Boston.

I think that the biggest part of the panic is just plain money-related. As a hematology/oncology fellow, my salary is most likely going to be slightly less than I currently get, and with it I’m going to have to make rent payments (in a real estate market that looks to suck as badly as New York City’s) and make car payments (something I’ve had the luxury of avoiding in my time here in NYC). Add to that a travel budget (since my whole family is in NYC, and Shannon may be in Washington D.C.), and I inevitably worry about it all. Luckily, the first year of fellowship is immensely busy, so I won’t have a lot of time to worry or to spend money in other ways.

Another part of the panic is that, over the past few months, I have achieved an entirely new level of comfort in my apartment. I’ve lived in the same two-bedroom apartment since July 1995, but I was never here alone; my first roommate was my brother, after that, a girlfriend, and most recently, an old friend from college and medical school. When it came time for him to start his residency, though, I decided to go solo, and in the time since he has moved across town, I have really made the place my home. I’m going to be very sad leaving this apartment next year.

And lastly, there’s the aforementioned fact that I may be 450 miles north of Shannon for a few years. This crossroads was pretty much unavoidable, since the fellowship decision process occurred only six months into our relationship. With much teeth-gnashing, I decided that I had to rank the best programs first, and that if Shannon and I are meant to be, we’ll survive any temporary separation. That doesn’t mean I have to be enthused about that fact, though, and throwing it into the already-nervous mix doesn’t help things.

Not that people haven’t seen these before, but in my work today I stumbled upon two good pages about the strict rendering modes of web browsers. The first, CSS Enhancements in Internet Explorer 6, is from Microsoft’s library; it describes all of the cascading stylesheet differences that IE6 brings to the table. The second, Eric Meyer’s Picking a Rendering Mode, does a good job of covering the oddities of both IE and Mozilla, as well as earlier versions of the Netscape rendering engine.

(Of course, every time I read any articles like these, I realize how badly I cannot wait for the day where web designers don’t have to worry about major rendering differences between web browsers.)

Oh, great. Just what I needed — an elitist, I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine award from yet another A-lister looking to get some attention…

This link is for Lisa, who appears to need a good turn in her seemingly-neverending quest for satisfactory housing in the Big Apple: Keeping Spot and Fluffy Home. (It’s a good review of NYC’s Pet Law, which can be summarized thusly: if you have a pet for three months and make no efforts to hide it from those who maintain your building, then no matter what your lease says, you and your pet are legally in the clear.)

It’s always fun helping someone move onto Movable Type. Welcome to a wonderful new world! (Now, time to work on the comment and TrackBack templates…)

Another bit of cool geekery in Movable Type: a TrackBack module for RSS, providing a way to reference the TrackBack URLs of entries in a syndication file. In basic terms, it makes it that much easier for people who read this site via my syndication file let me know when they write something related to one of my entries.

I hope that TrackBack vs. PingBack doesn’t become another source of much discord in the weblog community. (Given the surfacing of a certain player and his random, factless opinions, though, I’m less optimistic that war can be avoided.)

A friend of mine asked me to help him fill a computer job here in New York City. Here’s his (slightly edited) description:

I am looking for an entry-level employee for a hybrid tech/production job. The person will need strong Windows 2000 skills, as well as an ability to learn. The magazine is starting to move into digital photography, and is now looking for help handling the files. The back-end system is a very cool image database with 1.4 million images; on a normal day, the magazine inserts 4,000 images and has 250 concurrent users. The work schedule is less than ideal — it includes Saturday, Sunday, and most holidays.

I can say this: the magazine is a great place to work, with lots of resources and many cool people. I know many people who work (and have worked) there, and can honestly say that the position that my friend is looking to fill is a legitimate way for someone to start working up either the technological or the editorial ladder. If you’re interested, or you know someone else who’s interested, do not email me. Instead, email picjob@jache.com with the subject “Digital Job”.

Why was there so much silence around here for the last week? Because I was on vacation! I went to Seattle, and took a three-day trip out to the San Juan Islands. Until I catch up a bit, here’s a little teaser: a view of Mount Baker, from the ferry station in Anacortes.

mount baker, from the ferry station in anacortes, wa

Other highlights of the trip: seeing the last Seattle Mariners home game this season, sticking my head into Elliott Bay Bookstore, spending an entire evening playing with one of the cutest two-and-a-half year olds ever, and getting to hang out with my brother and sister for an entire week. Oh, and one other: finding two issues of McSweeney’s quarterly journal in a random newsstand in Fremont — cooooool.

I really, really like the perspective Greg Knauss lends to the notion of a “weblog candidate” for the U.S. House of Representatives. If you’ve been following the candidacy of Tara Sue Grubb at all, the essay is worth a read.

(Oh, and you must read the comments at the end.)

In the wake of Thursday night’s attack on the Kansas City Royal’s first-base coach by a crazed father-son pair, ESPN’s Ray Ratto has a hilarious column that attempts to better understand the thought (or lack thereof) that went into attempting to ambush an anonymous baseball coach in front of 10,000 fans and dozens of security guards.

For the few (OK, very few) who have asked about it, the Lo-Fi version of Q Daily News is back. (To add it as an AvantGo channel, you can click here.)

I’ve gotta say, the best thing that has come out of the brouhaha over RSS 2.0 is that I’ve started reading rss-dev again.

(For those who don’t know, or who aren’t following the ruckus out of sheer amusement, RSS is a specification which enables websites to provide content in an easier-to-syndicate manner. There has been an authoritarian rollout of a new RSS version, and this has caused an understandable amount of angst in the developer community, many members of which use rss-dev as a more democratic forum for discussions aimed at improving the specification.)

Much like my move off of UserLand’s Manila to Movable Type, spending a little time looking over the shoulders of the developers on rss-dev reminds me that there are actually people out there who put effort into trying to improve the general community of personal website authors. This makes me happy, and makes me much more likely to use their technologies and products.

Screw the foosball table, dammit — look at all those Aeron chairs!

Did you hear? There’s a virus that’s causing infected websites to display only XML today. Victims noted so far: Sippey, Anil, Andre, Leslie, Andy, and Jason K. Due to its rapid-spreading nature and apparent magnetism for the weblog hotspots, the industry’s best and brightest minds have now committed to working on a fix. We may know more soon.

Update: Thanks go out to the virologists who worked long into the morning hours to provide a fix. Things appear to be back to normal…

line number nine

Welcome back, number 9, we missed you so.

(I’m also proud of NYC for giving the contractors, who finished the restoration of the tracks a month ahead of schedule, a $3 million bonus. Well-deserved…)

Yesterday, my new sofa arrived, and setting it up in my second bedroom set into motion a grand plan to move all my computers into the room as well, officially making it my study. When the work was all done, a computer closet was created, and I reached the pinnacle of my geekdom. (For those viewing the picture, that’s the MetaFilter server on the right, my Linux box in the middle, and my Win2K server on the left.)

So, here’s a new one for me: spam via the Windows Messenger service. (Note that that’s not MSN Messenger, but instead, the built-in networking communications service.) When Shannon and I got back from an errand today, my desktop computer had a Messenger Service dialog box with the first part of a Japanese ad for some home cleaning product; dismissing it brought up about nine more dialogs completing the ad. After doing a little research, it turns out that these spams have turned up before; there’s even a TechTV episode on the new form of annoying advertising. Alas, there won’t be any more of this on my network — my router now bans all traffic on the relevant ports. Spammers, you’re not welcome here!

The improvement in a tiny lung’s ability to draw in air, the slow easing of tension in a mom’s face as a fever dwindles away. The proud eyes of a medical student who suddenly gets it. A parent’s eventual understanding of the nature of his child’s disease, and the willingness to fight harder to help prevent complications. The bloom of a smile on a face that, for days, has known only misery. A maternal sign of relief as the needle slides into a vein and a flash of bright red appears in the tubing. The release of a held breath as news comes back good.

There are times during residency when I’m not that busy — generally, when I’m not involved in the direct care of kids admitted to the hospital — that I lose touch with the parts of my job that make me happiest. Whenever I return to the inpatient wards, it takes a little while to grab onto them again. This past week, they all came within reach, and despite a few of the most busy days of my training, I took hold.

On this day last year, after the worst tragedy I could imagine happened in my very own city, I issued a plea to donate blood. Unfortunately, much of the blood donated over the next week went unused, and had to be thrown away. Now, a year later, the U.S. blood supply has reached a critical low, something I can personally verify with the stories of my two patients who had to wait for special deliveries from the area blood bank in order to get their much-needed transfusions.

If you can find it in you to spare half an hour sometime over the next week or two, please, go give blood. You’re providing life, which seems to me to be a terrific way to pay respects to those whose lives were lost last year.

I was hoping to get a special something done for tomorrow, but have failed.

I was going to put together a TrackBack-only weblog (similar to BlogPopuli) that could be pinged by any and all September 11th-related posts. In my little brain, it could serve as a focal point for the words and wisdom coming out of the weblogging community on the anniversary of a day that both changed our lives and changed our community. A year ago tomorrow, people found their voices, relationships formed roots, and new genres of personal websites claimed their space under the weblog umbrella; I had hoped to set up a site that could try to capture some of the reflection and thought that will inevitably come from this entire community. All of America will be exposed to an avalanche of mass media reporting tomorrow on the events of September 11th, 2001, and I envisioned a forum that would spotlight the more personal counterpoint that most other webloggers found so enlightening and comforting in the hours and days following the attacks.

Alas, I failed. I so wish I hadn’t, and I hope that someone else implements this successfully. (Of course, you can ping this entry if you so desire, but it’s just not the same.)

Ummm, yeah, ditto.

Similar to the days immediately after the disasters, the New York Times Magazine has done a fantastic job in these days leading up to the first anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Centers. First, there’s James Glanz and Eric Lipton’s “The Height of Ambition”, a seven-part story which details the decisions — architectural, design, safety — that went into the building of the skyscrapers. Then, there’s Herbert Muschamp’s “Don’t Rebuild. Reimagine.”, making public a “study project” organized by the Times in which a group of both well-known and unknown architects designed an entire framework of options for rebuilding lower Manhattan. There are also two excellent interactive features, one linked to the study project called “Reimagining Ground Zero”, and another, “How the Towers Stood and Fell”, describing the ways in which the design of the Towers led to various parts of the events of September 11th.

As we get nearer to the one-year mark of one of the worst U.S. tragedies in this generation, the press surrounding 9/11 is spiralling a bit out of control. These Times Magazine features seem to be a bit above that, and I’ve already found myself returning to them, learning more each time about what happened and what New York can do to continue healing the wounds.

Sad: it took ICANN threatening to revoke VeriSign’s control of the .com top-level domain to get the evil clowns to correct glaring problems in its database of information about who owns what domains.

Sadder: out of the seventeen examples of errors, nine of them remain uncorrected (and two more are only “corrected” in that VeriSign’s nameservers point at themselves, causing a self-recursive nightmare that prevents the domains from being resolved at all). Yes, folks, you did that division correctly — at best, VeriSign’s got a 53% failure rate, and we’re talking about the company that controls the largest single top-level domain on the Internet.

By my count, the deadline set by ICANN will be upon us in nine days (September 18th). As we get closer, I find myself wondering if the body has the strength to adhere to its threat…

What a great idea — an application that runs on your wireless-enabled Linux box, creating thousands of fake wireless access points to confuse hackers and make their break-in attempts more difficult. Part security-through-obscurity, part messin’-with-their-brains.

If anyone’s ever wondered how each year’s flu vaccine comes into being, I was goaded into describing it all in a MetaFilter thread. The basic point: despite much whining about fairness issues with the distribution of the vaccine early in the flu season, there’s a reason for it, and it’s based on the fact that the vaccine manufacturing process has to start anew every single year.

As if the terrible, horrible other things they do aren’t each enough justification for pulling VeriSign’s right to manage Internet domain registrations, ICANN nailed the incompetent company today for “taking what appears to be a cavalier attitude toward the promises it made” about keeping registration data accurate. ICANN cites seventeen specific examples of registration entries that contain plainly false information, as well as specific people at the company who were notified of the inaccuracies anywhere from thirty days to eighteen months ago. While nobody really thinks that they’ll do it, if VeriSign doesn’t both correct the specific problems and implement ways to prevent them from happening again, ICANN can take the .com domain away from them.

Let’s see… on the same day, a whaling expert openly states that a killer whale should be put to death and a whale breaches over a fishing boat, killing the owner. How can the two not be connected?

What an amazing idea: creating a tattoo using fluorescing dye that changes intensity as a person’s glucose levels fluctuate. (Gerald Cote, the Texas A&M professor who leads the development effort, has a page up about the work his lab is doing on this.) Currently, people with diabetes check their blood sugar levels up to half a dozen times a day, a process which involves pricking a fingertip with a needle, putting a drop of blood onto a test strip, and then analyzing the strip with a handheld monitor. Suffice it to say that most diabetics hate the whole process; working out a reliable way to do the same thing noninvasively would be a terrific advance, and I can’t imagine that people with diabetes wouldn’t jump all over this. (Thanks to Cory for pointing this out.)

Ohmygod, I love this Morning News story: Dennis Mahoney (the Non-Expert) “explains” why people always come and press the elevator button after you’ve already done it. I’m embarrassed to say that I recognize myself — or, more accurately, my impatience — in a few of the things ascribed to the fictional Bob. (And does anyone else remember the HBO series Not Necessarily the News, with the awesomely-invented sniglets? They were words that don’t, but should, exist, and one of the most memorable was “elacceleration,” meaning the additional speed imparted to an elevator by someone repeatedly pressing the call button. It’s a word that, for all intents and purposes, now exists in the little dictionary in my brain as a result of the show.)

While puttering around the city today, helping Shannon move back into her apartment and doing all sorts of errands, my brain kept returning to the sheer number of changes that have taken place since September 11th. Tonight, I learned that there’s now proof of the change that I’ve suspected has taken place, and which scares me the most: nearly half of America now believes that the First Amendment goes too far in protecting free speech. Of course, there’s a certain amount of irony in that — people criticizing their government for extending them the right to speak out against their government. Makes your brain hurt if you think about it enough…

There is one other finding of the poll that may put all this in the right light, though: 63% of people judged that the American educational system does either a fair or poor job of teaching students about the freedoms of the First Amendment. Perhaps if people were taught more about the importance of free speech, they’d appreciate it all the more.

Another writer I respect, Neale Talbot, weighs in on the saddening changes that have taken place over at Little Green Footballs. While Neale’s website stylesheets seem to be in the midst of a massive seizure, his analysis hits the mark, and helped me understand better the shift in attitudes that has allowed sites like LGF serve as magnets for blind hatred and vitriol against a single ethnic group. I’ve begun to wonder when people will start to take note and realize that fear, not logic, is driving much of the attitude shift. Will it be before we start to see waves of violence against people of Arabic descent in the U.S.? Before internment camps are set up? Or, like Neale asks, will people stand up against those who choose to generalize hatred for a few into oppression of many?

(Oh, and with Neale’s stylesheet issues, this is a good time to plug the CSS Stylesheet Browser, that’ll let you turn on or off any aspect of a stylesheet to make a page more readable.)