Archive for August, 2007

Success

August 29, 2007

Great article, “What is Success?” by designer Ellen Luption (also author of Thinking with Type and DIY).

Success is more than going to work every day and getting paid. Success means finding personal satisfaction in your work and loving what you do. And it means engaging with a social world: a world of clients and employers, but also of readers, users and other designers. It is those things that make us rich.

Designers getting out beyond their computers and clients to engage? I love it.

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Chico calling…

August 22, 2007

All roads lead to ... chico?

I had decided yesterday, after quietly going crazy working all day in my (now air conditioned!) room, it’s time to get out of town. Yes folks, the great town of Chico is calling my name, and I’m happily leaving Pasadena’s summer lull of work and study behind me … for a few days.

As if I needed another sign or intuitive prod to do something as crazy as drive 8 hours north to Chico to see some amazing friends, I opened up the new issue of Via, and found a full-spread picture of one of my favorite spots in C-town staring right back at me: One Mile at Bidwell Park.

All doubt of my newly planned trip quickly vanished, replaced with a mental note to pack my Mexico blanket. During my undergrad, I spent countless afternoons among those huge trees with a good book and slurpee in hand. Life doesn’t get much better.

As if that weren’t enough, The new Real Simple had something to add to my building internal conversation too: they featured the Chico Bag. Created and originally sold in Chico, this little nylon bag is a local staple for the farmers market attendees and the environmentally friendly.

Ohhh I hear you Chico, I’m coming…

Quotable

August 20, 2007

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.”
-Albert Einstein

Even Mondays at the end of a quarter are miricles …

Who needs a jewlery box?

August 16, 2007

Who needs a jewelry box...

I came back from Mexico a few weeks ago with enough new jewlery to double my modest collection. While it’s very exciting to have some fun new earings and necklaces, it posed a question of storage … where do I put this stuff? Even more, where do I put this stuff so I see it, remember I have it, and will actually wear it?

I started looking at jewelry solutions online, and the box I liked at Pottery Barn ran $100. Hmm… There was the cheap plastic storage options at the Container Store, but I’d rather put that money towards the nicer box.

Then I started thinking … what about those coffee sleeves?

I think I’ve mentioned my strange compulsive collection… I made a wreath out of them last fall (again a reaction to not wanting to spend big bucks for a nice seasonal wreath) and I’ve been hoarding them since. In addition, my friends pass theirs along (special thanks here for Scott and Tracy who kept their collection at home and recently handed me a worthy stack of about 50!).

Well… my conviction that these sleeves have more functionality than preventing burns finally paid off… I started stapling them together into a honeycomb pattern to create little cubbies to store my necklaces, bracelets, anklets, clips, hair bands, etc.

x3

I created three units out of seven sleeves each, and strung them from two nails in the wall. I didn’t know if it would hold, but they’ve done a fair job. Each cubby is a little unique, so it takes a little coaxing sometimes to convince pieces to stay, but overall, it works well. I poke earrings through the sleeve material letting them dangle.

While I will probably not store my jewelry in coffee sleeves forever, I have to say, I’m pretty satisfied. I saved $100, worked with my hands, and finally justified my crazy collection habit!

Mailbox surprise!

August 14, 2007

UCLA Fall Extension Catalog

I about flipped a lid when I made the daily mail trek downstairs, opened the little door and pulled out the UCLA Extension Catalog.

OMG! How could I be so lucky?!?!

Hmm … No, I don’t want to take classes there. I’m way too much of a NorCal/Bears fan to get that excited over the Bruins connection. No … I froze in shock and awe because the UCLA extension catalog covers, actually called “Master Graphic Designer Series,” are revered and well followed in certain design circles for their cover art.

I stood staring at the cover with my keys still hanging in the mailbox door for at least a full minute. I looked around to see if anyone else noticed this amazing thing that just happened … no one did. I winced when I saw someone else’s catalog already in the recycle bin and resisted the urge to rescue it to an archival home. I then proceeded to trip my way up the stairs as my eyes greedily took in all the nooks and cranny’s of this quarters clever illustrative concept.

Still confused? Some history, courtesy of the AIGA:

Paul Rand's First Cover

In 1990, UCLA Extension creative director InJu Sturgeon approached a 75-year-old Paul Rand with a request to design the cover of their winter quarter catalog. After much persuasion, Rand replied with a snow-covered orange that ended up making graphic design history. Since then, Sturgeon has recruited legends of design to contribute their interpretation of Southern California culture, resulting in one of the most sought-after continuing education catalogs in the country—some people collect these as if they were design magazines themselves.

Take a look at all the past covers here. The AIGA has an exhibit of all the past covers on display in West Hollywood until late August.

I have no idea how I got on their mailing list. I probably just fit their target demographics, but I think it might have been design fairies floating asunder …

iPhone confession…

August 11, 2007

iPhone

Yes, it’s true. I have an iPhone.

While the Apple community has been drooling over them since their announcement this past January (and the rest of the world seems happy to poke fun), I never imagined that I would own one so soon … funny how things happen. The stars seemed to be aligned, and it actually made some sort of sense. Here’s why I went from thinking “maybe someday” to purchasing:

  • Cingular
    I’m already a Cingular customer. There was no contract cost in activating the new phone, and I’ve been mostly happy with their service. Two more years with them is business as usual.
  • Mac Groupie
    Since September of 2004, I’ve pretty much operated my life, design and now school work through my Powerbook. This phone and syncing capabilities take my contacts, calendar, and music with me. That makes my life more seamless and is better than the best paper planner I’ve yet to find (and I’ve been obsessed with looking, believe me).
  • Google Maps
    This is what pushed me over the edge to seriously start considering purchasing. My friends with Blackberrys give a “Humph!” at this point, as they’ve had Google on their devices for a few years, but from what I’ve seen, the interface is hardly as seamless as the iPhone (sorry guys).

    Also, while I have a decent sense of direction, I still manage to get lost … a lot. Further, I was hours away leaving on the road trip around California when Ipp showed me his. The ability to have google maps answered a nagging question of logistics… Such a broad road trip sounded great in theory, but how do you actually find the aquarium in Monterey, the ghost town of Bodie, and Matt’s house in Vegas? Google maps!

  • Impulse
    I’d be lying if I didn’t list this. I really, really, really wanted one!
  • Bargaining
    With my birthday approaching by parents graciously chipped in a good chunk. In addition, I was able to meet some of my friends technology needs and sell my iPod nano and Motorola Razor at prices good for all of us. These made the phone’s cost come down about 75%.

At this point it was a no-brainer. I walked in to the Apple store in Pasadena Saturday, July 30th, an Apple crew member rung me up on a portable register off to the side of the store. I suddenly had a 4GB iPhone.

In short: I love it. While it doesn’t do the vacuuming or the dishes, I’ve very happy with it. A month out, here are some thoughts on what I love and what I don’t:

    Love:

  • The cool factor
    I don’t need to elaborate.
  • Touch screen
    I love this. I didn’t know how I’d like it, but a after a few days of use, I started touching all my other electronics, like the screen on my Canon 30D, expecting to be able to navigate menus. Not so much…
  • iPod + phone
    I can go to a coffee shop to get some work done, put on my music and not worry about missing a call. The song pauses and I can switch over to answer it. When I’m done and hang up (all with a clever button on the wire of the earphones), the music picks back up.
  • Camera
    Not the best quality, but I don’t have to take my little beat up Canon Elph with me now to capture those candid shots when the 30D is too bulky and/or socially awkward to tote around.
  • Email
    I love being able to check email quickly on the iPhone without opening my laptop. I avoid getting seduced into all other sorts of time-sucking distractions like Facebook, RSS feeds, older emails, writing long blog posts (like this one), etc.
  • The mix of form and function
    There are so many quirks I love, it’s hard to list them all. For example, the text message screen that looks like an IM conversation. This makes it natural and easier for the back and forth texting with friends without digging for the last message. Or the sensor that flips the screen orientation of web pages and music horizontally or vertically depending on how you’re holding the phone. Crazy! Or, how about the visual voicemail so you can catch your clients voicemail before blockbuster reminder that “some items” are overdue?
    A little less than like:

  • The cool factor
    Basically the flip side of why I love it so much … it’s a bit embarrassing to have one. For example, in class the week after I got back from the road trip, there were several snide comments from fellow peers about consumers lining up for an iPhone. That’s me, I’m a consumer. While I smirked inwardly about avoiding the line, I was hesitant to bring it out my phone in plain view during the rest of that class and announce I am one of the statistics.
    I’m also a bit paranoid about it disappearing, which makes me feel tied to it. It’s a piece of equipment! I don’t like the feeling it’s going to end up owning me.
  • Phone quality
    While it’s still good, it’s not the best sound quality, I think my razor was better. Also, the glorified headphones/headset don’t always work the best.
  • Size
    I miss the size of the razor that slipped into my back pocket. While my guy friends can slip their iPhones into their cargo shorts, the thing looks like a brick in my pocket. Not cool. It’s relegated to hang out in my purse now and I don’t catch calls when it’s on vibrate.
  • Case
    I’m not too happy with the InCase cover I have. When I go to the beach, sand gets between the phone and the plastic leading to scrapping. I’m constantly cleaning it out, along with cleaning the screen. I also can’t use the dock with it. I’ve seen these plastic film covers which are kinda cool, or this wrap thing… Huh.
  • Charge
    I need to charge the phone daily, which much more than my razor and also an inconvenience as I don’t have a car charger. $20 could change that I guess…
  • Text messages
    I can only send a text message to one person at a time, which makes it hard to round up a group. I’m actually really surprised something this basic is missing.
  • Functionality leads to “Oops”
    A misplaced finger on someone’s name means you’re calling them … right now. Quick! End call! Doh!

Overall, the “loves” outweigh the “less than like” quirks hands down and I’m very happy with the phone! Sorry for the epic post, I don’t like to do this very often. Thoughts? Questions? Considerations?

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this video that left me physically wincing yet somehow laughing as well … will it blend? Ohh my…

Walking out…

August 9, 2007

Perhaps it’s the heat of summer, maybe it’s the LA mindset, or maybe I’m finally finding some personal freedom… whatever the reason, I’ve noticed I’ve been walking out of things lately. Here’s what I mean:

Class
This is not my proudest moment, but consider the circumstances: eight hours of class (six of which was spent slowly and painfully picking through the Gospel of Luke), consumption of one half of a huge airpot of coffee (can we say over caffeinated!?), and my frustration that this class had failed my expectations. These, in addition to online chatting with classmates, led to a state of humor and delirium that gave me the giggles. I started laughing so hard I couldn’t hold it back, and I had to walk out of class. Again not my proudest moment, but it sure felt good to laugh that hard.

Church
Here it is: I’m having a hard time with church lately. I think it’s a side effect of being in seminary, but it’s really confusing and frustrating. While I’m being spiritually fed in classes, readings, conversations, the 60 minute church service has become unsatisfying and uncomfortable. It’s not for lack of trying, believe me. In addition, my sporadic travel keeps me from regular attendance, and my roommate who I normally go with to a local congregation, is gone for the next 6 weeks. Regardless, last Sunday I was so thirsty for the presence of God that I willed myself to go alone and put up with the rituals of the suburban attractional church. I sat down and waited …

A recent Fuller grad preached so full of theological wit that made me feel I was more in the classroom than church. I started to grimace, but I kept with it … until he flashed a timeline of Israel’s history on screen. This was the exact same timeline I had been studying the past four hours for an Old Testament midterm the following Tuesday. My heart and hungry spirit sank. Another study session was not what I needed to connect with God. I contemplated sitting there as a practice of endurance, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the strength. I got up and walked out.

Movies
I’ve seen some pretty crazy movies this past year, especially like Trade, Teeth, or Adrift in Manhattan at Sundance. I’d say I’ve developed a tolerance to sit through almost anything. I can resign it to a filmmaker or Hollywood’s vision, and appreciate it for what it is on its own terms. Yet doing so has desensitized me to the jarring nature of film.

Last night, a friend and I went to see Goya’s Ghosts with Natalie Portman. I got my artists confused and thought it would be about Gauguin and the wife he left behind to pursue painting. Not so. It was a very vivid and disturbing portray of the Inquisition in Spain, including how people were “put to the question” (i.e. tortured) to gain a confession to heresy. My friend leaned over after an intense abuse scene and said, “This is making me uncomfortable, I need to leave, but feel free to stay.”

I thought about it, but decided to walk out too. As soon as we hit the lobby, I knew it was a good decision. While at some point I’ll rent it to see the end, walking out validated how horrible the historical event of the Inquisition was, how powerful the medium of film can be, and how effected we are by the images on screen. It was good for me to say back to my friend, “Yea, this is pretty intense. Let’s go.”

Go ahead and judge me if you will. I know I would. But in the meantime I’m going to relish in these little moments of freedom when my soul and self care become a greater priority that someone else’s program or agenda. Hooray!