Monday, July 11 2011
I kept waking up throughout the night, wondering what I was going to do about the iPad app whose development I'd gone to bed without finishing. I can't stress enough how unusual it had been for me to abandon the project in such a hopeless state, but I took comfort in the enthusiasm I was feeling regarding my self-directed iOS development education. This enthusiasm had been functioning as something of a mental stimulant, making it possible for me to sit in front of a computer for hours on end without the emergence of an irresistible sleepy feeling that has been plaguing me of late.
This morning before taking Eleanor out for her walk I managed to make a little progress untangling the coding mess I left for myself last night, and this made it possible for me to have a reasonably cheerful walk.
The real breakthrough came later in the morning, after starting a new project from scratch. This time, Xcode's Interface Builder seemed to be behaving itself, allowing me to make predictable changes to interface elements. Once I had a web browser working in a modal window with a close button, I'd finally made the breakthrough that had eluded me for many hours yesterday. After that, getting my app to meet the requirements I'd been given took only a couple hours. Despite the frustrations, I'd evidently absorbed a lot of information yesterday, and today I kept being surprised by how easy or straightforward various goals were to attain. Mind you, the app I was working on is really only a partial app, meant to be grafted onto another existing app. It's not awesome or particularly cool. But it's better than Hello World and serves as a good introduction to this new professional path I'm taking. Getting it into a functional state was a huge relief and by early this afternoon I felt completely liberated.
This evening there was a young woman at the door, but she'd come on foot and had sneaked up so quietly that neither of the dogs noticed her until Sally (who is nearly deaf) happened to blink her cataract-fogged eyes and see her standing in the doorway. It's rare for Sally to be the first dog barking when we have a visitor, but that's how it went down tonight.
The young woman was wearing sort of a ballerina dress that didn't exactly go with her comfortable sneakers. Her face was plagued by an aggressive strain of acne that had produced a number of eye-avertingly angry pustules. But these were interspersed amongst similar-looking metallic studs set in facial piercings, and it wasn't entirely clear which were which. I thought at first maybe she was a neighbor's kid who had come to retrieve a baseball, a Frisbee, or a rocket, but no, it turned out that she was from NYPIRG and she was canvassing the neighborhood to raise money to fight the controversial shale gas mining technique known as fracking. She must have seen the Subaru's bumperstickers and had me for an easy mark. But still she felt the need to give me the whole rundown on why fracking is evil: proprietary poisonous chemicals leaking into ground water, tailings dumped in streams, and some tailings might contain radioactive elements. (That last one sounded like a stretch, perhaps tacked on recently to play into Fukushima anxieties.) I nodded my head as she gave the spiel and then signed the petition, though it turned out to just be a mailing list. I was hoping that was all she wanted from me, but then it turned out she was hoping to get donations. I hemmed and hawed a bit and asked if she had a flyer or something I could have with NYPIRG's information on it. She gladly gave me one, but then said something about hoping to collect money on this canvasing run "to keep overhead low." I realized that if I wasn't going to give this poor girl a donation, who the fuck was? So I wrote her a check for $30. But she wasn't done asking for stuff. She also wanted to know if I had any donations of "things" for some sort of NYPIRG office event (she wasn't clear on what it was, but I understood her to mean that these "things" could be of zero value and would be used in something akin to a treasure hunt). I couldn't think of anything at first, but then the perfect "thing" occurred to me: a chunk of shale full of brachiopod fossils. There couldn't possibly be an artifact more related to fracking! I'm always collecting such rocks, but it's rare that I have any use for them. She was delighted, though now she had to carry it with her as she proceeded house-to-house through our low-density neighborhood (she'd parked her car down at the bus turnaround, a quarter mile down Dug Hill Road).
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