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8 April 2017

One thing often leads to another around here. When we archived our calendar of exhibits earlier this month, we snuck the year into the big black bar at the top of each archived calendar.

Waking up this morning at an ungodly hour and unable to get back to sleep, it occurred to us that we could add the month name in the same way to the archived headline pages. You know, like 2016.

We'd been watching our ship come in.

Well, it wasn't exactly our ship. It was the Grand Princess sailing at 15 knots toward the Golden Gate at 4:30 in the morning, all its lights blazing as if the party never ends. We saw it out the window, four miles away, and watched it until it was hidden by the trees.

And naturally, whenever we see a ship come in, we are reminded of Herb Gardner's A Thousand Clowns in which Murray Burns (played by Jason Robards), explains to Sandy, the woman who is trying to help him keep his nephew with him, what he did instead of finding a job:

Oh, Sandy, I saw the most beautiful sailing this morning -- the Sklardahl, Swedish liner, bound for Europe. It's a great thing to do when you're about to start something new; you see a boat off. It's always wonderful; there's a sailing practically every day this time of year. Sandy, you go down and stand at the dock with all the well-wishers and throw confetti and make a racket with them -- (Takes confetti from pocket, tosses in air) Hey, Bon Voyage, Charley, have a wonderful time.... It gives you a genuine feeling of the beginning of things....

Seeing a ship come in is a wonderful thing, too.

It's always darkest, the old saying begins before taking a fork in the road to either "before the dawn" or "before it goes completely black." And when you are up at 4:30 a.m., you are clearly a believer in dawn.

So we went downstairs to the bunker, turned our CSS code into a class, updated the calender archive files and applied it to all the headline files.

Then the fun began. We fiddled with the type design. We liked the large italic flushed right and inset slightly into the dark headline bar. But we weren't thrilled about the light gray text color.

Seeing a ship come in is a wonderful thing, too.

We tried our signature teal color for the text and liked it but it wore thin in about 15 minutes. It was just too dark to stand out from the headline bar.

We thought a gradient might work against the gradient of the headline bar but that didn't seem to work across all browsers. Why make trouble for people?

How about a drop shadow? Now we were getting ugly. We seriously considered going back to bed.

And then it struck us. White type with a thin shadow. The barest hint. The font itself, like the month, disappearing into the white background of the past.

We liked it. It was readable and decorative at the same time.

The indent from the right avoids any plus signs indicating an update since publication and it sits above any long headlines reasonably well (although we'll have to watch what we say at the end of the month 12 times a year).

The only place we did not implement it (if you don't count the mobile version, which can only handle so much) is above the first story on the main headline page because, well, that's Now or Today and it's always looked that way. But we did drop it in at the month break below (we keep two months max on the main headline page to promote fast loading).

It gives you the genuine feeling of the passing of things. Like a ship, its lights burning bright four miles away, passing in the night.

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