I’ve been rather under water for, oh, about a month or so now working on what may be my biggest project to date. While I’ve worked on some hardcore intense sites in the past, I usually was part of a team. In my new job, I also have a team, but rather than a technical split (developers, sysadmins, designers) it’s more of a creative split (designers, copy writers, computer guy). As the lone code monkey/sysadmin/helpdesk guy, the tech load fall entirely on me. And it’s a LOT of work.
But, oh boy, look at the results. The gorgeous, gorgeous graphic design was thanks to Mr. Jamie Dandrea. The bright and pithy copy was provided by various members of the client’s organization, but extended and massaged by Mr. Rob Stankus (my boss). And the code, server administration, database design, HTML layout, web graphics prep, Flash… well, jeez, anything else that had to do with the computer was all me, baby. It’s written in PHP using MySQL on the backend on Apache 1.3.
It’s not my first big site, nor did I use any new technologies on this one, but at no stage was I able to say, “OK, Mr. Database Guru, please provide me with your schema so that I may code to your specs,” or “OK, Mr. Sysadmin, we’re ready to launch, so please set up the DNS to point to our server,” or “Hey, Jr. Developer. Get your pimply ass over here and code up these pages. Then fetch me a cup of coffee, shine my shoes and pick up my dry cleaning, you worthless maggot.” I actually had to fetch my own coffee. The horror.
This sounds like complaining, but it’s not. I was totally exhausted and stressed, but the results are so amazingly gratifying. I’m just stoked. After the horror that was the AAC, where my energy, confidence and sense of self worth were virtually sapped from my body, this just reconfirms my old feelings of invincibility. Of course, after writing this I’ll probably crawl in this morning to find the server in a ruined heap on the ground or something, but I know I’ll be able to handle it.
New topic. To celebrate our nine-month anniversary (and get us some crawdads), Dani and I headed off to Isleton, CA for the weekend. She had seen a special on The Travel Channel called “Crustacean Sensations”. Having spent 11 days together in Cajun Country in our first couple of years of dating, we have some remarkably fond associations with crawfish and such. So she booked us a room at the Delta Daze Inn – *VERY* cool bed and breakfast run by two of the nicest folks anywhere, Jill and Bill – and off we went. We assumed it would be a several hour drive seeing as we were going all the way to the Sacramento River Delta area. Imagine our surprise when, after leaving the house at about 7:30pm, we arrived not too long after 8pm, just in time for dinner. The delta is practically in our back yard. It’s been there the whole time and we never even knew it.
And what an interesting area. I’m something of a California history buff, and there’s a ton of it just snaking through the delta. From the old hotels that were once brothels and gambling halls to the towns like Locke, the only one in the U.S. completely owned and run by Chinese immigrants.
There was an unfortunate sense of urban decay around us, but it was hard to tell whether the area is in the decline or on the rise. I tend to think the latter. As the rat race that is the Bay Are creeps ever outword like a stain alongside the Bay, Isleton and its neighboring cities will no doubt feel the push. Our host Bill had told us that just five years ago, one of the homes near the Inn was selling for about $40k. Last year it finally went for $125k. There’s a two-story, 4200 sqft. residential/commercial building for sale at the end of main street going for about $175k (though it could be had for as little as $150k, according to some sources). It need some serious, serious work but I imagine that, in five years, it could be prime real estate.
And that was the most remarkable thing about the delta to us. Having lived in the Bay Area for more than 11 years now (as of yesterday, as a matter of fact), I’ve heard story after story of people who moved into, say, Menlo Park in the late seventies and early eighties for as little as $70,000. Those same homes now go for just under a million, even with no renovation. Isleton is home to the Crawdad Festival, which draws thousands, and is right in the heart of the delta. There are two docks in town, neither one of which is open yet, and one private launch that may be donated to the city in a couple of years. If all the dominoes fall right into place, the town could stand to be a local tourist hot spot. In the very least, it’s a nice quiet getaway that pulls you out of the hectic stress of the Bay Area and reminds you of a simpler lifestyle. And it’s literally an hour away.
A big thumbs up on the delta. It’s definitely on the grow and positioned to become the next California hot spot. There’s not much to it now, but I think it’s best to come and experience that while you can, ’cause it just can’t last. Dani and I spent the whole ride home dreaming of a life we could build there starting soon so that we could take advantage of the opportunities offered by the area. I really do believe it’s a good investment. I think the folks living there already realize this and are working to turn all this into a reality. Hopefully they’ll still be able to maintain its charm in the process.