Sunday, July 25, 2010

Learning New Tricks

About two months ago my wife asked me if I thought I could make a website for her Scentsy business so she could expand beyond the Tucson market. I had never made a website before then. Sure I've done a blog or filled in pre-made templates with a couple pictures and text, but I had never really made a website from scratch. But, what choice did I have? She could spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to have someone else make it, or I could stretch myself to get beyond my basic knowledge of a few html tags for bolding or underlining a text. Since then it has been like drinking out of a fire hose, but it's been fun! I've learned some more html, some css, a little javascript, and a very little about Flash. I've now finished the basic design of my wife's website, but we still have to edit the text and spruce up the appearance some. Here is a page grab of that website.

In the last week and a half or so, I decided I would use the template I had created to update my own website for school. The old one I had was quite atrocious and was made on a very simple template designed for all the new people in the Spanish program at the University of Arizona that had no idea what they were doing. At least I was able to choose the colors on the page.

I replaced that website with this one that uses the same basic template that I used on Deb's Scentsy website. While not perfect, I think it is a marked improvement over my former site.

I have begun to upload image collections and the Richard Tyler plot summary collection that I wrote about in an earlier blog post. The intent of the site is to obviously present myself as I go on the job market this year, but I also hope to provide a number of materials about Golden Age Spain and Latin America including images of playwrights, 15th-17th century maps of a number of the cities, pictures–of cathedrals, stage machinery, tourist attractions, etc.–taken on a 2005 trip with some good friends from my BYU days (when we finished the trip we put all our pictures together, so I'm sure several of them are theirs--if so, and if you don't want me to share them, just let me know which ones you would like removed). I considered using Adobe Flash to show some of the images, but it makes it difficult for people to copy them for use in class, so I decided against it.

The experience has taught me how much work goes into a simple website. It has also taught me that I have a lot to learn to improve the sites and make them function exactly how I want them. If anyone has any suggestion on aesthetic changes or even code problems, I welcome your comments!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Human Kindness

From the evening of June 22nd until the morning of July 1st, I suffered from the longest flu I have ever had. During the last few days I was able to get out of bed and do a few things and feel somewhat productive. By Saturday morning, July 3rd, I was feeling quite well and decided to go play in a weekly game of soccer--an ongoing activity that I have been participating in for almost four years now.

From the very start I realized that I wasn't going to have the normal energy that I have, so I stayed back by the goal and primarily played defense. Even though I was taking it easy, it didn't take long before I was throwing up in the bushes. A little while later I was on my back with my head and shoulders experiencing a tingling sensation much like when you lie on your arm and it "falls asleep." After about fifteen minutes I thought I would have enough energy to drive the twenty-five minutes home. I was wrong--I only made it about ten minutes before my entire upper body started feeling the tingling sensation and seizing up. My hands curled up and became rigid. Very concerned, I managed to pull the car off into a small cul de sac where I stumbled up to the door of the nearest house and pressed the doorbell. A clean-cut, middle age man opened the door, and I explained as well as I could my predicament and then asked if I could use his phone to call my wife so she could take me to the hospital. Barely able to stand and with my hands and arms curled up in front of me, I watched in astonishment as the man said, "Sorry," before closing the door on me. I have read numerous times when people just walk by a stabbing or shooting victim without offering any help, I just never thought I would live to see such calloused behavior myself.

I spent the next four or five minutes stumbling to the nearest house, where a kind lady dialed our phone number and asked my wife to come pick me up. I thanked her and managed to get back to my car where my symptoms became much worse. For the next fifteen to twenty minutes I was unable to move and I was concentrating as hard as I could to maintain consciousness. If I had been physically able, I would have returned to the second house and asked the lady to call 911--something I should have done the first time.

My wife finally arrived and took me to the Emergency Room at TMC. Fortunately, I regained a little of my movement by that time and was able to climb into our other vehicle. Just before getting out of the vehicle I started throwing up again, this time into a grocery bag that my wife handed me. As you may know, however, grocery bags almost always have holes in them, so I was a mess when I walked into the ER. A good friend of ours watched our kids while the doctors did a variety of tests including an EKG, blood tests, etc. After four hours and the first IV I have ever had, they indicated that they thought I was suffering from heat exhaustion. My brother has suffered similar symptoms in much cooler weather, so initially I was skeptical, but I now think he was probably right in my case.

Since this all happened yesterday, I have repeatedly thought back on the behavior of the first man who refused to offer any help. What kind of person is he? How could he simply close his door on someone who was in obvious distress--particularly when that person was asking so little? Did my staggering and my slurred speech make him think I was drunk? If so, couldn't he still have called the police to tell them about a drunk person stumbling around in his front yard? If I had passed out before making it to the second house, I could have been lying on the very hot Tucson pavement. Even if someone had found me in such a state, would they have bothered to call for help? This case and several like it makes me wonder how I or any of my friends would respond in a similar situation. The answer seems so obvious, yet just a couple months ago a homeless man who intervened to help a woman being robbed in Queens, New York was stabbed. Although a number of people passed by him, it took almost an hour before anyone bothered to call for help. Surveillance cameras showed one man take a picture with a cell phone, but he didn't bother to stop and assist the dying man or even press a few more buttons on his phone to call for help. What is going through the minds of people like this?