I’m SO Not a Designer

OK, so it’s a little less ugly, now that I’ve borrowed atthe404’s Vesuvius layout. Haven’t ever worked with PHP before, so while the learning curve isn’t exactly steep, it’s still making my head hurt. Had to try a couple different hacks to show recent posts; I’m sure I’ll have to try a couple more to show recent comments. And I’m still not sure I like the layout; I want to get the pictures back on the left and the links and stuff back on the right, because — knowing that people read left to right — I want readers to see the attention-getting stuff first (the tall skinny semi-abstract greenish pictures), and then get to the meat of the entries, with the admin business (the links and such) saved for last, on the right. And that CSS skullduggery will take a non-technically-oriented person like myself a little bit of doing — so, yes, this layout is gonna mush around some over the next few weeks. But the green and gray will stay. I like the green and gray.

What else is going on? Not doing much reading; trying to get some chapter-drafting done. The cats are at peace, and Dad’s said that — after a long, long time — he’ll be happy to host the extended-family Christmas Day dinner downtown again, which means I’m in for big-time cooking and cleaning duties. Having inherited my mom’s recipe collection and some of her cookware — including a molded English pudding steamer — I’m on deck for doing the steamed-for-six-hours holiday plum pudding, so I’m going through a series of dry runs, making sure I can do this big involved recipe right when the time comes. (The recipes are all like, “Make sure the suet melts before the flour particles burst,” and I’m like: huh?) I’ve never asked a butcher for beef suet before; never even thought I’d do such a thing, especially not for a dessert. But that’s the odd thing, I guess: the radical disparities in the class backgrounds of my mom’s side of the family and my dad’s side of the family produced the strangest mishmashes of holiday meals; English puddings and birds cooked within birds alongside black-eyed peas or collard greens boiled with ham hocks. With my mom’s family, you had stilton and scallion puffs as an hors d’ouvre; with my dad’s family, you had pickled pig’s ears as a snack. Popovers versus cornbread; grits versus grapefruit; “highballs” served at 6 p.m. on Friday versus a Pabst Blue Ribbon with lunch after you mowed the back pasture.

I learned about cars from my dad. The first car that was mine’ to drive was Granny’s farm-use 1974 GMC Custom 1500: a big, old, rusted-out pickup truck, painted Creme de Menthe green. To work on the engine, you had to actually climb inside the hood and sit on the wheel well with your head bowed. The do-it-yourself orientation I learned from driving and fixing that truck has really informed the way I approach Web technologies: while knowing I’m a complete novice, I’m not too afraid to climb in under the hood and tinker a bit. (My greatest victory with that GMC was using two scraps of pine 2 x 4 and an empty plastic oil bottle to get the engine to limp home a hundred miles from Harper’s Ferry.) But see, until lately, until checking out my mom’s handwritten recipes and comparing them to the dogeared and wine-stained pages in her Craig Claiborne, James Beard, Fannie Farmer, Julia Child, and other cookbooks, I hadn’t figured out that she did the same thing in her cooking. In that realization, stratifications of class and gender, men’s work and women’s work, seem to collapse in odd ways.

I’m wondering how those stratifications might play out in Web work. Historically, doing code has been a more male-dominated thing, and design as a field has had (a few) more women — does that divide point to a class divide, as well? Is design more upper-class, more stylish, more chic? Do we expect coders to have dirt under their fingernails?

I’m SO Not a Designer

2 thoughts on “I’m SO Not a Designer

  • November 11, 2004 at 1:37 am

    Well, one thing you need to do is get rid of the question marks atop the sidebar because as it reads, it’s ???? then your question ending with a ? then The Ugly Stick then Michelle. 😉

    Looking much better. You’ve made significant progress. Did you see I passed all but one question on my comps? I failed it because I’m an idiot, but nevertheless, I failed it, but still, a big part over. OK, sorry to be so about me. I’ll read your post now and probably NOT comment so as not to seem obnoxiously present.

  • November 11, 2004 at 1:45 am

    Oh, how did they collapse? Had you just assumed that your mother knew innately how to bring all these meals to life without instruction, didn’t realize the foreign application of some of it for her?

    My dad taught me all about cars; taught me to drive, borrowed a stick-shift so I could learn to drive something not automatic, schooled me in the basics but I didn’t listen beyond the essentials and now, I probably couldn’t change the oil. This bothers me because although I know that if Brit died, I could pay people to do it, I like to be able to do things myself.

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