Cat door

We have this cat, and her litter box is in the garage now. All summer we’ve left the door to the garage open, and it’s been fine… but now that it’s getting cold at night, our thoughts have turned to cat doors.

Probably for handy people, installing a cat door is like a one-hour project, something you can knock off while waiting for a coat of varnish on some other project to dry. For us though, there was a considerable period of pondering and reflection: can we train a 12-year old cat to use a cat door? are there doors with cat-doors already embedded in them, or must you install a cat-door separately? are there people in the cat-door installation business? does one procure said cat door at the cat store or the door store? etc. George and Angela provided very helpful advice and encouragement, while Sterling and Jeremy drove me onward with their taunts and smirks.

Finally one day last week I went to Home Depot to purchase a cat door, an electric jigsaw, and safety goggles. I’ve always wanted to wear safety goggles! I was kind of intimidated by the saw though, because I have a morbid fear of cutting off a digit with a power tool. In any event, Tim ended up doing all the hard stuff while I supervised with a cup of coffee in my hand — just like a real construction site! No fingers were inadvertently sawed off or body parts drilled into. And now our cat is locked in the garage until she learns to use the cat door, and handiness is very slightly less mysterious to us. Yay!

Web services commons

So far, most of the companies that build on public web services have done so in a notably respectful, community-oriented way — perhaps because when the web services community was small, a company would attract a lot of negative attention if they were perceived to be all take and no give. But as public web services go mainstream, I can’t help wondering about the development of the content commons.

I’d say Flickr is a company that has gotten into open web services in exactly the right way. It costs them a lot of money to host all that bandwidth, but feeds of photos are a cool new feature and a value-add to their users — and ultimately it all loops back to their core business model of getting people to host photos on Flickr. Flickr’s API also gives users some confidence that the company isn’t going to try to screw them by making it hard to get their content back out if they want to take it and go elsewhere. It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone, and another example of Flicker’s leadership by clarity.

On the other side of the spectrum are companies that treat RSS feeds and public web services just as free content, without adding any new transformative value or giving anything back to the community. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this if the license allows it, but it’s not interestingly different from screenscrapers who present your content as theirs — who have long been considered sleazy parasites by most of the legitimate web. The whole idea of opening content via web services is that growth for all can be enhanced by sharing — and in the long run people don’t want to share with those who are openly contemptuous of the whole idea.

Fuck ArtApart

I’ve always been a big fan of’s custom T-shirt service but I can’t use it any more because they refuse to print the word “fuck”.

This is billed as a “family friendly” policy. Let me note that I loathe this kind of mealy-mouthed euphemism more than the actual restriction. Whose family are they protecting? My husband and mom swear quite a bit, so it can’t be mine. I doubt their insurance company lets their workers’ wives and kids wander around the shop floor either, so the offspring of Portland’s screenprinters are probably safe from direct exposure to my foul language. Maybe at best this is a worker protection policy — but since some worker had to screen my design and send me email telling me that they were rejecting it, at best it’s a partial worker protection policy. ArtApart should probably check with an employment lawyer about the consequences of well-meant but unequal protection, especially if (as I suspect) the worker who read my nefarious order was of a different gender than the one who is being “protected” from having to print the F-bomb. And apparently “f–k” is the only word that they ban — so go right ahead and order a T-shirt that says “shitforbrains cocksucker”, they don’t have a policy on that. And they apparently will print “f*ck” or some other slightly disguised version of the famous fricative — which, unless their workers are mentally challenged or illiterate (in which case they won’t suffer any harm anyway), is hardly less damaging of their tender sensibilities.

Of course they have they right to refuse business for any reason, and I have the right to take my business to another vendor. I’d just like it if they made their policy clear before I wasted time trying to give them money for a service they do not in fact provide.

Repulsive food gallery

I’m Korean, so of course I regularly eat repulsive foods. I’ve started a photo set on Flickr to document and celebrate said repulsive foods. I enjoy taking photos of food, although as you’ll see I’m not very good at it.

Have I mentioned that I L-U-V-LUV Flickr? This is how lame I am: over a year ago, I started trying to install Gallery… and I never successfully managed to do so. I tried! I tried lots of times. But now that’s all over, because I am in love with Flickr. What a relief!

I also admire Ludicorp a whole bunch. Their product conceptualization and speed of execution are head and shoulders above anyone else in the business right now, and a testament to the vision of Stewart and Caterina as well as the hard work of their amazing team. The cool shit invariably comes out of those small teams that don’t have to spend all their time playing “bureaucratic judo”, or building to some small-minded person’s idea of what the market is ready for. Great product drives the market, and right now Ludicorp is demonstrating that like no other company.

Going to DC

Timboy and I are going to our nation’s capital to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. Are there any good restaurants there? And what is fun to do? We were thinking of going to the International Spy Museum and Colonial Williamsburg (which was featured in my dissertation) — but I’d love to hear suggestions from locals. Thanks!