Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm a dot

It's been a busy last few months, and now I'm a dot. We're all dots. Today my dot was fairly simple. It lacked color and sheen. On Tuesday, I was metallic and iridescent. Dots can grow with time, or shrink, and they can cluster or stand alone with equal elegance. I know my dot has the opportunity to become a glorious orb, but for now, I'm swimming with the other dots.

It's comfortable to remove yourself from the pressures of being human every once in a while. As we design and create with the constant reminder that it's "for people" and should be "human centered," I'd like to ask you to create something beautiful for the sake of beauty and nothing else.

What does your dot look like today?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A new proposition.

I had an excellent conversation today about an educational trend to deconstruct the traditional role of a principal into two (or more) positions: education director and chief-operating-officer. I am paraphrasing the names; the move responds to the posture that an individual should handle both the monetary and academic curricular operations. Capable individuals do exist, but they comprise a minority. It struck me as an interesting contextual application of business administration principles. As a design methodology may improve health care, for example, so too may business strengthen education.

I am skeptical, mostly due to ignorance, but I am excited. A parallel topic with which I do have experience has offered a bit of market validation: concrete. I captured this image at Fort Crístobol in Puerto Rico. The idea that recipes for hundreds of years of mortar--even those predating Portland cement--were on display was thrilling. It was a tidy example of a developmental arc incorporating the past, exploding it, and building anew with the constituents. It is exciting to think that breaking a pattern is itself a pattern, particularly when principles can remain, in the midst of varied implementation. Probably too much for a single paragraph on an (un)prophetic California Tuesday.

Mortar recipes

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pressure to be patterned?

Pastel homes saddle up daringly close to one another on lines mirroring topographic contours. The three-inch gap between them makes you wonder what exists in the space in between.

Of course, this is San Francisco. Every great city has a distinct feel, but who sets that pattern? How does a pattern get initiated? Who decides to follow the tradition of those that came before?

How does a city develop its coherency? In some instances, the thread is subtle yet prominent. A recent visit to London allowed me to marvel in striping. On a street with direct view of Big Ben, a structure with an honorable place in history and in the hearts of tourists, I felt that the clock tower was only a nice background for the fantastic coherency of stripes. Through various ages and styles of masonry, construction, and metalwork, the stripes permeate and persevere. The boundary between lead actors and supporting players is blurred. I wonder what sets the pressure to be patterned.

London, April 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Language of patterns

I watched the new Star Trek movie. Loved it for initiating another arc of tradition; that is, it made think about tradition again. The theatre audience applauded the film. Two things: people applauded and I just described a movie theatre as a "theatre". Maybe three things: I also called the movie a "movie". Love it!

Germans applaud a landing. I see a movie on Christmas Day. Italians chase a meal with walk. I am not sure if my interest is a tradition or if it is the transferability of the tradition as a concept with pattern. It is also exciting to think how few instances might constitute a pattern, or by extension, expertise. World War II pilots were "Aces" after five kills. Is that true after five (respective) post-coital cigarettes?

I had a hard time not killing an ailing squirrel outside of work today. I had a hard time accepting that the squirrel will die, bloat--possibly explode from the weekend heat, and present itself for cleaning on Tuesday; it was harder to favor the kill versus the clean. That latter pattern is much easier to accept, but I am not sure if it is right or just weak.

Picture by ede.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

This side of the Ides

It is hard to say how Antony would fare
in the current context, as the dogs
have slipped from favor and we are
regressing, already at war. This sooth
says that we will see the same of politics,
envy, and war. Much as men of low morals,
like Antony of course, I think we will also
rise and reach for beauty.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

vacation / vocation!

Task at hand: design a vacation.

Is that like paint-a-pot?
Do I show up with three of my girlfriends on a Saturday afternoon and pick out a blank cruise ship, gossip about boys while selecting amenities (buffet, band, hot tub) and then squeal in excitement when the ship does a lap around the bay?

It appears that, like many things, it's much easier to describe how I wouldn't design a vacation. Assuming anything on a cruise ship is the first data point, let's go from there. I do not want to go camping. There it is. I don't really like camping. The outside is great, but seriously, camping is exhausting. First, you have to pull all the equipment out of whatever dank place you've been storing it since the last time someone else really wanted to go camping. Then, you need to make piles to get it all together, remember what you need, and forget your headlamp. At some point in the process you need to go food shopping, buy trail mix only because it has the word trail in the title, not because it's in any way more exciting than the few chocolate chips you can pick out, and select a box of bars that will taste even dryer when you're camping than they look in the box in the store. When you finally get everything packed you usually have to drive longer than you want to in a cramped car in order to get close to a destination that may or may not require walking. The walking doesn't bother me. In fact, I prefer it to sleeping on the ground next to my car, but it means that I have to carry all the gear, the food, and the synthetic clothing that will smell bad in ten minutes if it doesn't already to a different location before I can set up and get comfortable. Upon arrival, everything that I crammed into my bag gets pulled out: poles get pegged, tarps get stretched, mats get inflated, and I get hungry. I pull out the trail mix, eat the chocolate chips, take a swig of Nalgene-flavored water that mostly dribbles down my face and sit on the ground in a pike position in my Crazy Creek chair. Now I'm camping.

My designed vacation would likely involve international travel, something that allowed me to fly a posh, foreign carrier where the flight attendants look like porcelain and tuck me in and bring me bloody marys in the morning.

In fact, yesterday I received my new, renewed passport in the mail. Passports are something that you never think will expire, and even though you are given ten years of warning about your expiration date, you always put it off until the last minute and need to pay extra to have them rush you a little book with a version of your face inside. It strikes me that the new passport is very: America. I open the book and am bombarded with eagles and flags and monuments of past presidents. Every page is America America America. I wonder who designed the new US passport?

For the sake of getting this designed vacation underway, I'll wrap this up. My Airbus A380 lands and I head to the hotel in my poofy jacket before it's time to hit the slopes. The conditions are perfect and I finish my day down by the beach, catching some sun and playing in the gentle waves before a breezy, bug-free outdoor dinner. I sleep in a clean room, maybe it has a glass bottom so I can see the fish, and wake up for another great day of snowboarding. Dear vacation, do you exist?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Arbitroliday: colon, coffee, and underwear

The short month of holidays is over. I ran across two the other day: one was something I imagined in my head while thinking about the other, and it turned out to be real. Whew, that was cool. I read on post that February sixth was Semicolon Day in Sweden; curiously the seventh was entirely dissimilar. Perhaps that is yet another slight to text, grammar, and punctuation.

In that vein I stumbled across several commiserates. Why not celebrate a new day with some new blogs? It turns out that there are people in the world beyond the Eats, Shoots and Leavesvariety who are interested in punctuation. Maybe, though, they are still all found in England. The Grammarblog is a high-tension haven for… grammar. This of course has little to do with holidays, at least directly, though the site did a fair job slighting a pizza joint with signage marginal at best. The food issue brings me back to holidays.

Trailing out of February, I acknowledged Lent earlier than is tradition. A full two weeks early this year, I continue to celebrate the Lenten season without “foods” including coffee and Coke—I exclude all derivations and permutations if at all feasible. Lent does very little for me as part of a Christian ceremony, but I do enjoy the potential for introspection in giving up, or sacrificing, something, particularly when the terms are monitored by another’s calendar. It is also exciting to celebrate something without the abundance of meals and associated glut intrinsic to other holidays: a Thanksgiving jog.

In visiting another blog the other day, I thought about the prescriptions of familiar holidays. I have no idea how to celebrate Semicolon day, other than to use them more frequently, and perhaps with vigor. I know how to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the other hand; that knowledge coupled with the evident discontinuity in application to my actual life makes it less appealing. There is an excellent offering on the blog I HATE THE EARTH to make January 21, "Kierkegaard's Day," in honor of single people everywhere. Can you imagine—JUST IMAGINE!—the challenge for the people at Hallmark in bringing a palatable selection of cards to fruition for that day? God knows what sorts of stimuli would be in hot demand in Kansas City during the crunch time.

In thinking of my own arbitrary holiday, I reflected back to a comment a really cool, old woman made to me once during the purchase of a belt buckle. We were talking about the hidden marking and signatures of Indian silversmiths. I had commented on a reverse inlay pattern that was only visible on the back of a particular piece. She offered that it was something special just for the wearer, like sexy underwear. It struck me recently that an exciting arbitroliday might be, "Daring Underwear Day." It may or may not preclude foods in excess.

After a pro bono consultation with Google, I learned that a largely similar arbitroliday exists: National Underwear Day on August fifth, founded by This is the US version; another iteration exists in Brazil, founded by Finissimo and celebrated February 17th. Though less refined than my original vision, the current manifestation is a bit more obvious in its implementation. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of photographs… everywhere… to help neophytes and revelers absorb the nuances. Maybe the thing to do in rising to the challenges of vagaries in a proliferation of minor holidays is to do just as the Christians and the Pagans have done for thousands of years before: combine elements of what you know and charge ahead. Therefore, this year, I will celebrate Middle Name Pride Day, by wearing a special pair of underwear while avoiding coffee and Coke, despite the day falling on a Friday during of the first full week of March, which according to Lenten tradition…