November 19, 2007

Obstructions

reflected

Obstructions, obstacles, the unexpected these are things I live for in vacation and work. Without the unknown, with no difficulties, how would I overcome? A good problem solving session is the meat of my hobbies and my job. I believe an obstruction can be turned into the centerpiece of something new or can force you to turn a new corner, unthought of before.

Last week I attended a CHI-Atlanta (Computer Human Interaction) panel discussion on accessibility. Is designing and programming web sites that meet accessibility guidelines a huge hassle or a pleasure? I think it all comes down to how you approach it. Is the government trying to force rules down on designers or are designers trying to reach the greatest audience? Both are true, but one approach is fun and the other must be rebelled against.

In the end I hope to see more private industry sites embracing accessibility guidelines like they are creative obstructions, forcing sites to even better ends. It all makes me think of the movie The Five Obstructions in which the director Lars von Trier sets five obstructions before the film director Jorgen Leth and asks him to make a movie with each obstruction.

Enough about work, so how about that vacation? At the end of October we spent a week in San Francisco and Monterey, enjoying the majestic beauty of the west coast. Pictures were taken and obstructions happened, otherwise called adventures.

Hand Held

self reflection

Obstruction: Record your vacation using hand-held self portraits.

Our results left us laughing and deleting.

Where are we going?

coit

Obstruction: Navigate a foreign land with only an iPhone.

We had planned to bring roadmaps of the bay area and northern California. Left behind, they sat, selected and waiting on our dining room table. The car rental place gave us some small scale maps, but nothing that covered the entire area of our travels.

Back in September SB bought an iPhone. It was a selfish request on my part, to no longer have to listen to him list all the reasons having an iPhone at this exact minute would make our lives so much better. Having an iPhone nearby has been great. Nothing soothes the Internet addict better than knowing the world wide is always within reach.

We basically relied solely on the iPhone mapping system for the entirety of our week long adventure and I learned to yearn for paper. Waiting for a map to be pulled from the thin air takes forever, especially when you are speeding down the interstate, going the wrong direction, trying to find the right exit. Paper maps are so fast, they are always fully loaded.

Besides the time frustrations, relying on the iPhone meant it was always being pulled out and handled. On SB’s birthday the phone slipped and fell, face down on a gravel driveway, shattering its beautiful face. It still works, but now goes by the name scarface. It is $200 to get it “fixed” because they must replace the whole device.

At least the driveway led to the most fantastic baked good of our entire life, at Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant. I’m still thinking about the perfection of their candied ginger scone, so tender, so perfect, it made Lazy Jane’s scones seem like cludgy seconds. Maybe it was the wood fired oven.

The Earth Moved

slate

Obstruction: Survive a moderate earthquake.

I experienced my first earthquake. In the hotel room in Monterey, it sounded at first like a large person walking on the floor above us, creaking and cracking. Then the walls of the room began a soft moaning, like they were stretching. Finally the bed began to move, very rhytmically but much more than a truckers vibrating bed. There was nothing I could do but hold on.

After the room stopped moving I jumped up and ran to the door frame. SB meanwhile was totally non-plussed. I’m freaking out, running around, looking out the window to see if the hotel was evacuating, worrying about what to do next. He’s just sitting there saying it was no big deal.

Then voices from next door started filtering into our room. “Holy Shit that was an earthquake! Quick turn on CNN!!!!” We chuckled to ourselves.

No one was injured, but a lot of people were freaked out, even locals, as I was quick to point out to SB. It wasn’t just me!

For the rest of the trip I felt a little jumpy, a little unsure of the ground under me. And more pressing I wanted to know what an earthquake would feel like if you are in a car, on a pier or in a bath tub! I think it would be sloshy.

A Twist

self reflection

Obstruction: Travel from San Francisco to Atlanta on one foot.

I wish I could say that the earth started shaking again, or I was alpine skiing or doing something terrible sporty and/or romantic, but no, I was walking down a sidewalk, a relatively smooth and even sidewalk. My foot came down funny, twisted outward, I landed with my full weight on my ankle and heard a crunching noise. I grabbed SB so I didn’t fall to the ground. I could no longer put any weight on my foot without severe pain.

After a cab ride to the emergency room, x-rays, pain killer and ice packs, I was in possession of a high tech ankle splint and shiny new crutches. The really good news is that it was just a sprain, not a break. The doctor said it wasn’t severe, but I can’t remember ever having such a painful injury before. I’ve been lucky.

We were flying out the next morning. I hate crutches. I hate airport hassle. I hate pain. I hate being helpless. I hate being pushed around in a wheelchair. Needless to say it was an awesome trip home.

Actually, despite my awful mood and pain, everyone from the first cab driver when I injured myself to the last cab driver who pulled into our driveway was super helpful and sympathetic.

Four days later I was out of the splint and two weeks later my ankle is a little achy but almost back to normal.

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