A blast from (my) past

Tonight I made some updates to my portfolio page, and it got me thinking back to all of the projects I’ve worked on over the years, going back to my first professional web design gig right out of college in 1996.

Wowee-zowee. I really can’t believe this is still up. It was one of the last websites I designed at that first job out of college. The site went up in the fall of 1998, just before I left California to move back to Minnesota (the first time). It’s kind of shocking to see that the site doesn’t seem to have changed one bit… even the poor-quality digital photos I took with a then-state-of-the-art Apple QuickTake 100, the first digital camera I had ever seen, at the opening day of the Los Angeles County Fair in 1998 are still there (and promoted on the home page as if they’re hot news).

I remember that day as if it were yesterday. First off, let’s get some perspective. There are just shy of 10 million people living in Los Angeles county. That’s almost twice as many people as in the entire state of Minnesota. I wouldn’t necessarily say that that means the LA County Fair is twice the size of the Minnesota State Fair, because the Minnesota State Fair is disproportionately huge. But the LA County Fair is friggin’ huge in its own right, especially for a county fair. I recall standing in line for 2 hours in sweltering late summer heat just to get through the ticket booth, and I was wearing long pants because I had come straight from work and hadn’t really anticipated this turning into an all-day affair. Once inside, I squeezed my way through the teeming throngs to the appropriate exhibition hall, only to discover that it, too, was friggin’ huge, and I had no idea which booth CDW was in. Eventually I did find the booth, but Lenny (wonderful, wonderful Lenny) was nowhere to be seen. So I took my pictures and left.

OK, I guess that’s kind of a lame story. But that’s what I was up to ten years ago.

But wait… that’s not the only decade-old site I built that’s still essentially intact. There are many, many, many, many, many, many, many more.

Quite a legacy I left behind in California, no?

More than you ever wanted to know about Mark Summers

Know Mark Summers? He hosted the messy Nickelodeon game show Double Dare way back when, and these days he’s the host of Unwrapped on Food Network, which I am, unfortunately, watching as I write this. (Hey, it was that or the routine weekly post-SNL broadcast of the Guthy-Renker infomercial for the Midnight Special DVD collection.)

The show is moderately interesting as a glimpse into the operations of various quirky businesses in the food industry (such as the one they’re talking about now, whose corporate office is a 7-story replica of a wicker picnic basket that would put Beebe Gallini‘s powder puff factory to shame). But the most distinctive thing about it is the maddening, Shatner-esque start-and-stop cadence of Mark Summer’s voiceovers. I’m sure he doesn’t really talk that way, at least I hope so, but on TV, he’s so programmed into this particular way of speaking — which presumably originated long ago in broadcasting schools with the desire to sound enthusiastic and engaging, and be easy to follow — that, ironically, I can barely concentrate on what he’s saying due to the way he says it.

I was not aware until I set about writing this post that Mark Summers is also a spokesperson for OCD, as detailed on his stunningly mid-’90s-style website. Wowwee. That site must have seemed freakin’ awesome at the time, what with its 3-D animated GIF logo, frameset navigation that unpredictably disappears on certain pages, etc. I don’t mean to mock a psychological condition, but you’d think someone with OCD would have no truck with this. It certainly hasn’t aged well, and I find it funny that the company that designed and (apparently, given its URL) hosts it still has the audacity to tout having been featured in a 1999 magazine.

P.S. This is what I get for drinking coffee after 5 PM. 8 hours later I’m still up doing… this.