Thursday, December 30, 2004

Fun all week

Ah, nothing like a post-season gingerbread house to make a rainy eveing fun. Nick bought it with his money, and asked that we all enjoy being creative with it. We did.

Update 1/1/2005

We took it to our good friends Steve and Ellen last night, New Year's Eve, and we ate it while playing Scrabble. It was okay. The kids liked it very much. I remember what real gingerbread tastes like, so I liked it just a little.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Hemptown Clothing

Can these numbers be true? Use this Hemptown Clothing Calculator to see how much water one of their shirts saves, versus a 100% cotton shirt.

For anyone who has seen the home movies of Tulare Lake and then driven through the cotton fields that are in its place now (this is along I-5) it's actually quite easy to believe how much water a cotton plant consumes. Tulare Lake was simply huge, an "intermittent" lake as large as 1500 square miles.

The California water crisis could apparently be averted, simply by not growing cotton!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Flash toons

Homestar Runner is very, very entertaining. I got to thinking, what sort of characters would I develop, if I had the opportunity to work on a flash toon? Dusting off my old skills, and knowing that it'd have to be something I cared about, I figured I'd need at least three. They'd reflect the sorts of things I am learning about me and the world.

So here's a manic character. Slightly scary to be around, you always hope they're going to keep it in check... but you never really know. This one would mirror the "If I just move a little faster, juggle one more ball, spin one more plate, borrow another $200, combine the trip to the grocery with the dentist with paying the late gas bill with buying the new blender I'll be able to get all the important things done today" attitude.

Prone to implosion or explosion: don't get too close!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Google Shuttle Powered by Biodiesel!

On theGoogle Blog, Cari Spivack writes about their earth-friendly fueled commuter vehicle.

So, what are the youth up to?

A'ight, fogeys, today's teens are called "The Youth" and they face issues that most grown-ups avoid. But overall and through it all, they are people, and mature in ways that many old people will never be. Still, they know how to have good clean fun, and online, too. Have you taken one of these silly personality quizzes recently? Remember filling these out in magazines as a teen? I did, and I took one of the online quizzes that is circulating in the youth culture. I'm "Inspiration Soup!"

You are Inspiration Soup!! You live to Inspire
those around you with your green beany, white
chunky, red soupy goodness. Many have come and
lit candles in your honor. You've inspired
them to become better people. Thank you,
Inspiration Soup... thank you.

What Weight Watchers recipe card from 1974 are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The deep shallows

Wind blows cloud topped trees
colorlessly reflected
in a rain puddle

I'm becoming more me, everyday. My father told me about coming home early one day, and driving past me as I walked home from school. I didn't notice him: I was busy staring into a rain puddle. Dad says he pulled over and watched me, books on my back, hunkered down over the puddle, just staring. I reached down and touched the puddle, pulled my hand back, and just kept looking. He didn't disturb me; he drove home.

I recall being fascinated with puddles as a young boy, but for a long time I'd forgotten why. I see them again, now, and lose myself in them as I once did. Plant yourself at the edge of a puddle, and look through it at the mirror sky. Go ahead, do it! My description that follows is dry and void compared with the true experience.

The puddle is a mere fraction of an inch deep, yet it can reveal an infinite space beyond. You can look at its surface and see ripples, you can look into it and see the sidewalk, or you can look through it to the topsy turvy world reflected in its depths. The "real" world is the same in all cases... but we can change our perception to show us what we are willing to see.

How far do we see, when we look towards each other? Do we go beyond the surface? Isn't the true nature of reality revealed to us in something as simple as the world reflected in a puddle?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The world is changing now.

I made it over to the Berkeley Biodiesel Collective intro meeting. It was packed! There's many a-many people who have woken to the idea that voting with their dollars to support the petroleum industry can end now.

I've got so many threads going in my life regarding sustainability and stewardship and responsibility, that I probably ought to split off a new blog.


One man noted that the number of peopple starting to wean themselves from petrol is similar to the swallows showing up at Capistrano: there are a few "pioneers" but then one day, all the swallows show up. Can it be that it's really time for a sea change in how we conduct ourselves? The people in that room last night all understood that they could make choices right now that would change their part of society. BioDiesel is a flagrant example, but the small things add up, too, like investing in super efficient appliances, driving less in the first place, support local farmers... the web of things that could function in harmony to reduce the craziness is extant. We just have to choose it.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Festival advert

I like that the the reward for doing good work is more work. I have a few clients for whom I'm doing a really, really good job... and these guys are one of those. Here's a snapshot of a print ad that's going into a program.

I feel that there's too much info here, but at least I was able to arrange it so that the viewer doesn't have to read it of they don't want to. I know the style of design in "alternative" media is really, really busy. So many of those ads just look like wallpaper to me. I hope I get to see this ad layed out in the page, then I would really know how successful I'd been.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Biodiesel Revolution

Joshua Tickell is the genius behind the Veggie Van, and his story of bringing biodiesel to America is truly inspiring. This liquid energy could be the ticket to independence from foreign oil... so if you're one of those "no blood for oil" types, are you driving a gas-powered car? Hmm?

I'm getting ready to get a new car, or at least a new used car. This makes it a perfect time to look around at the options. I love hybrids, but I probably can't afford one (yet) and they still run on fossil fuels.

(A quick aside: wouldn't it be a kick, to have a hybrid/biodiesel car? I bet such a vehicle could get nearly 100 miles to the gallon. VW made a test biodiesel car, a one-cylinder super-streamlined two seater, that got 200 mpg)

My hope is that I could find a Passat, get used to the reality of filling up over in Berkeley, and then trade in my van for an about-town electric car. Then I'd really feel like I was doing my part for the environment.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Finishing touches for Marketplace Kitchen

I designed up the logo, and then Donna asked me what I would do to dress up the face of the Marketplace Kitchen. One great idea from a former employee was to include the word "kitchen" from many languages. I translated it using Google and other online translators! Over time and several iterations, I prepared this drawing:

We'd been down to TAP plastics, looking for something to soften the ceiling line. Stamped metal? Some beautiful kevlar/carbon fiber fabric (in black and gold)? We decided to try those dropped-ceiling diffuser panels. The nice folks at TAP Plastics cut them down from 48"x24" to the sizes I'd worked out.
I had them cut letters from black acrylic, and with a little bit of Krylon's new Fusion plastic paint, I made them burgundy colored. To attach the letters to the ceiling panels, I scraped the chrome plating off to get to the plastic, then glued the letters in place.

The final pieces got assembled into place on-site over the course of a couple of days (there was much on-site assembly to do. Lots of little brackets, pieces, holes to drill, things to glue... and all the while climbing up and down the ladder to get out of the way when someone had to squeeze by).

And the final image for today, here's an overview of how nice the front of the Marketplace Kitchen looks, with the new letters and using diffuser panels in an unexpected way. What is really fun, is customers are now starting to ask that their language go up, too.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Banner Ads, too!

Andrew called me with a rush request to make a banner ad.

One great thing, is that he knew I was a bit pressed for time today, and so he really let me make the determination for when it was "complete."

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Election result maps

Election result maps by Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman of the University of Michigan are quite fascinating. Geographically, it's easy to see that most counties voted for Bush. I like the maps, called "cartographs," which show the population in each of those areas. More people, bigger area. When you see the data represented that way, it gets harder to see Bush's "win."

Monday, November 08, 2004

I love testimonials

Nice testimonial from this client:

Dear Bob,
I'm writing to extend Freedom Cinema Festival's heartfelt appreciation for your generosity and support of our recent event. We could not have done it without you. We're very happy with our new logo and we look forward to working with you again in the future. Thank you!
Freedom Cinema Festival
Andrew Thomson
Ian Berzon
Laurie Cameron

I was moved to post this because I saw a logo today that was poorly designed and the client was way overcharged. On the issue of paying for a design, my hope is that the designer is adequately compensated, and the logo has a value related to the dollar value of the company's future sales. I know that gets fuzzy when it's a NPO or a socially responsible group, since they often are learning what their true value to the community is. Which is why I have a couple of pricing tiers.

I will NEVER gouge a client. My clients will ALWAYS get great value for the money they spend. And many of them will become lifelong allies in the effort to build Paradise here on Earth.

Bump the post

I did something very important, Saturday.


My heart wanted to get over to the Green Festival, the tradeshow for sustainability, and my mind started "shoulding" on me about it, but I just didn't have the stamina for even a trip on BART. I called my coach, and she reminded me to listen to all my intelligences. So I stayed home, and spent Saturday afternoon doing a whole bunch o' nuthin.' After that I raked leaves into the compost heap, so the grass could get some sunshine.

I've got a couple of design projects to tackle today, and I finished what could be my final exterior sign ever on Friday. It came out great! I'll get a picture of it and post it soon.

Tomorrow I tour a sustainability project in Oakland, with my coach, to see how we might promote them and take the next steps on the long road to manifesting a wholesome future.

It's past time to start a blog on that project. Still, I can only carry what I can carry. Letting go of sign fabrication opens quite a few resources for me, so perhaps I'll get started on it more powerfully.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Earth is the Best

Need a quick lift? head on over to CD Baby: THE PHENOMENAUTS: Rockets and Robots and click on the "Earth is the Best" track sample. These guys know how to have fun and how to dance in the space between silly and professional.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

It's Alright

Believe it or not, this is a day of great hope. Yes, I know, it looks like one of the worst land-raping, crony-rewarding, preemptive war-mongering rulers the world has seen is recent times is going to be leading us backwards for another four years.

But look at it from a deep historical perspective.

From the first time a bully clubbed his adversary and took his spear, through the Spanish Inquisition, Fascism, McCarthyism and even to today, where millions of votes and voters got discarded through machinations of the people in power, every where and every when the oppressors have existed, people of good conscience have learned how to stand together, how to stand up for each other, how to be stronger individuals and community.

Evil passes away, as we discover the good in ourselves and live and act from that place of deep faithfulness.

Each time we defeat evil, we become better people, and it gets more subtle, and we get to defeat it again. The US (and any reactionary citizens within its borders and its money and power-hungry corporations) is currently the biggest bully the world has every seen. And we're about to grow from the 600 pound gorilla into the 1200 pound gorilla. We artists, storytellers, fools, lovers, builders, earth-water-air-fire spirits, we organizers, community makers, believers, we're still discovering how big a job we are in for. We are faced with a task the world has never seen before: to teach the bully how to be harmonious...

From the inside.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Bush is leading

We're on our way to sanctioning the best liar for the job. Is it Nixon's revenge? Apparently more than half of the citizens of the United States enjoy being lied to, for there are millions who are casting their ballot for George W. Bush.

Maybe it's less offensive than that.

I see that the exit polls show that fighting terrorism weighs heavily on people's minds. George is a known factor in this; he's a bully and the biggest terrorist in the world today. Who's better at keeping you safe on the playground, than the biggest bully? As long as he's your friend?

We understand violence, and that's what he gives us. I had hoped we were ready to try something besides violence. I know I sure am. I see far too much violence everyday. Just across the estuary, young people lose their lives every week in acts of violence. It's a disease that has us in its grip, like nicotine for a smoker.

Well, we apparently don't want to go cold turkey and quit violence yet.

Too bad.

The Greater Possibility

Yay! The Greater Possibility is the latest blogger recruit within my sphere of influence. Be sure to keep an eye on that blog, since these are some of the most alert, engaged and yet still active in the world people that I know. Working with them, I'm reminded of the following zen master's words:

Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.
--Wu Li

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Freedom Cinema Festival Logo

To provide some closure for this little design chapter, here's a finished version of this brand-new logo.

Each of the icons in the film strip was its own little design project, and logo-like. Andrew said a nice thing to me, that even the complex objects, he could still tell what they were though very small.

This is going to look so great on a black t-shirt.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Now the film strip is getting some attention, the letters have been extruded, and the icons are getting placed.

At this point, it's really difficult to change placement and shape of things, but colors and translucency are still easy to alter.

Proofing a poster

Leah/Nika/Sterling, this is a layout for the poster at 20"wx28"h. I've moved the colors around, made it so I had more room for the logo at the bottom, and subtly changed the purple on the logo's top swoosh so it shows up a little better. It was too close to the gray value of the green, and pulling a vanishing act.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

On the path to perfection

Here's what you are looking at: the first iteration of the logo from my sketches, with Andrew's input, and based on the existing logo from Jen. What you can't see: I've converted the globe into vector art, but it's flat (i.e, it's not a 3D CAD object). This means it's infinitely scalable. The film strip is far harder to illustrate than any of us knew; I've drawn it dozens of ways, and this version is one of the two or three that I like. It is pretty good. But it's super sensitive: a little bit one way or the other and it looks bizarre.

The letters aren't 3D yet, and the icons aren't drawn in yet. We're just looking at overall placement, size, scale at this moment. For example, the film "feels" wide, but it's already nearly too thin to hold the icons. You can see that the letters will extrude really well, popping out from the depths of space.

Here's an example of the sort of change that's easy to do now, but will be harder later after there's a bunch of detail:

Yeh, the upright words are good. I've changed the metal cap around the earth to an atmosphere. Consequently, it stopped looking as "golden age of cinema" so, what to do... Say, how about some "rays of cosmic consciousness?"

Shall I work on a figure-eight film strip?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Try to hear it, change is here

Hello, FCF'ers!

The globe sketch is based on the existing artwork, the one with the film is a response to my struggle with trying to get the words to be the most prominent feature of the logo, and the icons are here to show the beginnings of the woodcut/poster art style that I think would help solidify the bridge from past to future.

If you post your comment here, we'll all be able to read them.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Showing my friend Carolyn how to Blog

The blogger community is about to get a new convert! I'm at Carolyn's office, and I'm showing her how easy it is to add a post to a blog.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

On a rush job, is it best to start in the middle?

I've been visualizing a full pipeline of fun jobs. So I get a nice referral from Allison Bliss, to some folks with Somehow they were deep into a poster design project with no time left and no one to really finish the job. Andrew and I hit it off pretty good to start, and I got the file in its state of disarray (text wrapped blocks in Photoshop? By having multiple, non-linked text layers? It was ugly) and I whipped it into shape over the phone, IM, and email this afternoon!

It was the most fun I've had on a rush job in a long time.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Open during remodeling

Just want to capture a bit of yesterday and today...

My chiropractor is a "wellness chiropractor." I see her even though I'm not currently wishing for pain meds for my back. The idea is that together we can avoid getting to that stage. I can testify that by spending the time to integrate the shocks and surprises that happen just in the course of regular life, I avoid getting to the point where I can't move.

Yoga helps, too: I'm pretty tuned to my body/mind/spirit.

I'm an integrated, flexible being. Here's what happened yesterday: I realized that part of my struggle is that I don't open the door to my heart, wide enough to let other people in. It's dam' scary! The might hurt me! And this closed space, this idea, has created a contraction which actually pulls my right shoulder down, the left side of my neck in, and makes my right ribcage smaller than the left. You can see it. I've had it for years, and wondered why and what I could do about it.

At Mass, I suddenly got a clear picture of the connectedness of the issues of my heart, my fears, and the manifestaion in my body. I chose that my heart would be open on that side. I could feel a sense like a buzz, or like a sleeve being slipped off, and I could feel my right shoulder expand.

Today, there's been lots of crackin' and poppin' as my breastbone aligns to the new volume. My heart is more loving, and I have a greater capacity for patience and gentleness.

My right ear is cooler and soothed, my teeth fit better, my right elbow is functioning fluidly... it's all really, really wonderful.

Friday, October 15, 2004

SpeakOut::California Propositions Information

Connecting up all my parts means that I choose to be political, as well as to earn a living and to live by my principals.

SpeakOut::California Propositions Information has a handy list of California's props, whcih can help us make informed decisions.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Virgin Galactic

In one week, all the pent-up hopes for space development seem to be popping! Virgin Galactic , Richard Branson's new venture, has signed with Paul G. Allen and Burt Rutan to build a tourist sub-orbital vehicle!

I'm so relieved I can hardly stand it.

Then we see that Robert Bigelow has announce a $50 million prize for an orbital tourist vehicle. The man really does want to get people up to his space hotel!

And of course we're all waiting for a sucCessful X-Prize flight. Go Burt!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Coffee For Thought

I saved the client from having to hang a furniture grade piece of lumber by being a little clever. The wood pattern is a 3M print of a photo I took, and then wrapped around an aluminum and wood box. The whole sign is therefore about 25 lbs, rather than 100 lbs.

I got to use my sculptor skills, too, making this dimensional coffee mug!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Sometimes a logo is too much.

This is the face of a business card for my new friend Carolyn. That's not the real spelling of her name, but that's how she's chosen to Americanize it so we pronounce it correctly. I apparently can't even pronounce my last name correctly ( I say VAN dee WALL ee, but it's fahn d' VWAHLL uh) so any time someone makes the effort, I think it's a great act of community.


She came to me thinking she needed a logo, but after just a few minutes it became clear that what she really needed is a theme. So over time, we'll make a few basic business tools that have the big white space, and the purple/lavender/light green colors, but each piece will have a different, flowing form on it. I think it'll work out.

This first piece, the business card, is hopefully a great start.

Hm. As I take a fresh look, a week or so after designing it, I see echoes of some of the fine art I've done. That's pretty cool. Carolyn deserves more of a fine art look rather than a corporate look.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

I made "Art."

Actually, I made a pair of signs that say "Alameda Art Center," but I paused in the middle of making this one to snap this picture. Should any of the people on the committees or review boards or those who actually pay the bill for the work stop by here and see this entry, let me say this: congratulations on sticking through the whole process through the last months. You all made sure that the ugly gray building at 1701 Wesbster got repainted to be very nice visual asset on the street. As you continue to apply the same diligence to projects which might involve actual architecture, design, and building, Webster Street will be transformed into our new Main Street.

If you're not one of those people, I have a different message: if you are part of a large civic project, do your absolute best to set expectations early in the project. revisit them, and remind people that they agreed to these. If at all possible, have each committee involved elect a representative with the full decision making power of the body they represent, and then also make sure you identify who is going to feel left out and send that person regular updates.

And probably the greatest thing you can do to make your project go well is to find champions. Have a champion at City Hall, one in construction, and one in the regular population (or part of your membership). They will keep things moving forward when you are all used up.

I have some artistic ability, but it is probably a hobby and doesn't drive my life into a dark abysmal hole were I am alone and against the world.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Chop wood, carry water

The greatest service I've done for Alameda, so far, is my involvement in helping to launch the Alameda Marketplace. From organically grown produce, to natural groceries, to fresh daily fish and the finest cheeses and wines, this market is poised to become a true destination for those people who are ready to escape from mass-marketed and over-processed "food" that supermarkets try to pass to us.

As I grow in my ability to engage in right livelihood, I really cherish clients who help bring harmony to our daily lives. Shopping for free trade coffee, or chemical free produce, or wild-caught fish from a sustainable breeding population, these are today's equivalent to the aspiring devotee's tasks as they prepared for enlightenment:

Chop wood, carry water.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Tilling the soil of Mars

Click here to see a 600k animation of the soil in Endurance crater. These two images are more than 24 hours apart. The frames are available on the MER raw data page, Sol 173 and 174 from the Opportunity rover. For those who are interested, it's frame 1M143541886EFF3300P2908M2M1.jpg and frame 1M143629327EFF3300P2977M2M1.jpg. The lack of shadows is typical of these images, since the Microscopic Imager is casting its shadow across the entire field of view. The scale is very small, the large image in the link is about 1/2" tall. The grains are smaller than sand.

The two frames are not well aligned with each other (since the team is looking at something different than I am, that's not uncommon) but I have become somewhat proficient in transforming one file so it overlays the other. In some cases, this gives a 3D appearance, in others, like this one, you get the foreground rock moving in and out of the frame.

There is a general background motion, which is not of interest to me as it's simply the soil at two slightly different camera angles. What does interest me, is that there are also several locations where the soil particles have been moved. Likely reasons for the motion include gaseous transport as something vents from under the soil, dirt falling off the MI and disturbing the soil, thermal processes, and finally (I'll say it!) Life.

At some point in the mission, I hope they let the MI sit and stare at a bit of soil, and we'll get a set of images free of camera motion errors. Then we'll see if there are some real effects going on.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Satisfied clients make me happy

Barry Solomon made his lifetime dream of opening a music school come true. He was deep into the process by the time we found each other, and he'd already weathered several regulatory, construction and scheduling storms. He paid Pixel Rangers a really big compliment: "Getting my sign was the only part of this entire process that went really, really well. It was the only painless thing that happened on this project."

I had to paint out the pale yellow area behind the sign (no biggie, but since the painter had just painted it green, it makes you wonder). The sign itself is simply 3M adhesive sign marking film, aplied with a heat gun to get it to conform to the texture of the stucco wall. It came out brilliantly, better than paint.

The banner, sandwich sign on the sidewalk (not legal, the city could force him to abandon that if they choose to enforce their sign ordinance), the window lettering, those are all further examples of Pixel Rangers' work.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Using salvage for new products

At the Alameda Marketplace, I have found a client who shares my dream that even signmaking can have a Cradle-to-Cradle life cycle.

This sandwich board sign is roughly 65% salvage by weight. The wood support and hinges are from an old toddler gate and the "rope" is a 20 year-old computer cable (7-pin, round serial).

The sign face is a new piece of aluminum and plastic. I don't know how you'd separate this kind of sheet product for recycling, but the plastic feels like HDPE and of course aluminum is recyclable.

I've been calling and emailing the folks who make the corn and rice starch packing peanuts. I want them to make a starch-foam infill fomeboard. All fomecore board, right now, uses a polyurethane or similar foam inside, so it has to go into the landfill.

Oh, hey, wait... maybe tired foamcore signs could get shredded for packing material?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The Scion is a box without straight lines.

Local laundry tycoon Jaime Galindo traded in his gas guzzling van for this small Scion, which of course needed letters put on. We did a bit more than just lettering it, as you can see.

Jaime asked me where I get my work. He's a pretty typical client, and I told him so. A first job could be a sign, or a newsletter, or a postcard, or a logo and identity treatment, and the relationship simply grows from there. After a while, my client and I have developed an entire brand identity for the business, one smaller project at a time.

The immediate benefit for the small businesses I work with is that we build their identity in affordable steps.

I have my eyes on a longer term benefit for my clients: each piece we work on together follows thematic rules I uncover during the first couple of jobs. By holding future designs to these rules, the branding develops "naturally." Often my clients are surprised by how "big" they look after we've worked together for a year or two. What they notice is that their clients recognize them and their product or service as they go about their business.

I might be picking up my son from school and Jaime will drive by in his Smartlaundry van, and I'll overhear, "Oh look! It's the Smartlaundry guy! Have you tried it yet? You really should, it's so great to have help with the laundry!"

When the work I do inspires someone to prospect for my client, that's a really good feeling.

Donated Banner

Sure I'm an entrepreur and a capitalist. I also help work towards the day when we can live in peace together, each of us working for the common good. I often converse with people who are on the cusp of realizing that the best way to care for your fellow human is to empower him or her to earn money.

Anyway, I made and donated this "Progressive Websites" banner to the local peace activist network. They were, of course, thrilled!

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Cogs or not?

It's true that all parts of a business must function well or the entire enterprise suffers. I get stuck when several clients move up their deadlines, or can't pay, or a vendor sends the wrong material on a time critical project. Is running a business like running a machine? If one part gets stuck, does the whole thing grind to a halt?

If I had different people in the different roles, then one or two at a time might be stuck, but the rest of us could keep going. What I am learning is that running this business is only a little bit like turning a crank on a set of gears. It's closer to filling jugs that are rubbery. I can keep filling all the jugs that are still working, and not get entirely caught up in "fixing" the one or two that are not.

Until I thought of rubber jugs, I'd been using this mental model of gears for a long while. It works well for me, because I am reminded that moving this one moves that one, and so on, in a complete process. But how can I have a complete process when gears won't move? In the last month, I had three of these gears get really, really stuck.

I spun a gear free. In my mind, I just lifted it out of the process and let it stay frozen. I kept all the other cogs moving, and kept hammering on the most stuck one too, but I kept it from absorbing all my concentration. So now that it's broken free, the other gears are still turning, and with only a little grinding I can leap back into operating at a nice velocity.

It feels really, really great to get back to flowing with the waves of abundance I am gifted with.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Finished sign for C'era Una Volta

Alameda is undergoing a retail renaissance (of sorts). It's been about 6 years since the Navy closed, and so there were a couple years of folks hanging on, then a couple years of folks casting about, and now finally the start of people moving back into the vacant spaces.

Hopefully selling the kinds of things we Alamedans want to purchase.

C'era Una Volta is owned and run by three delightful people. I hope they do very well. There are art showings, the food is delicious (it's Tuscan) and they know absolutely which wine goes with your meal. I'm learning to charge what I'm worth, so I'll be able to eat there, more!

Every job has an arc, and with this client, the theme was "recoverable detours." One example is the full-color print I used as a background for the sign had the green and the blue and the light yellow just perfect, but the output house turned the golden yellow into lime yellow.

The print operator told me he can only match one color on a full color job, which is in reality a statement of his skill level rather than an actual device limitation (when I trained digital print operators, I taught them how to match colors across an entire print).

So I airbrushed a yellow/magenta cast over the lime and turned it the right color. The color bar in the middle of the picture shows before and after.

The blade sign is a lightweight wood, plastic and aluminum box, with dimensional letters. It's beautiful, and although it looks small, it works well in the pedestrian traffic area.

Mojave Road Trip, SpaceShipOne

In the middle of getting all the work done, I felt compelled to drive down with my two children to the Mojave Inland Spaceport. Along with a crowd of other people (reports vary, between 10,000 and 30,000) who believe that the spirit of exploration and enterprise fit hand in glove, we watched history made. At Scaled Composites you can see and read all about it.

Two high points stand out, to me: The collective energy, the surge of awe and hope, swelled in us all as the little ship went faster and faster. Our hair stood on end, we all hardly dared to breathe, we all shouted encouragement as chills played up our spines. The other was calling home to KFOG and filling in the Morning Show about what was going on. They must have popped onto the internet or they are really smart, because they asked me really intelligent questions: How high will it go, who is the pilot, why hasn't anyone done this before, where is the money coming from, and so on. We stayed at White's motel, which you can read all about in "The Right Stuff."

We had a tour of XCOR, which is the company that built the EZ Rocket and which I predict is involved in Burt and Allen's next project.

I actually expected to be not very impressed. How exciting can a 3-1/2 minute trip in space be for someone standing on the ground? But when the SS1 came in and landed, and they towed it past us with Mike Melville standing on top, the impact hit me: this ship was in space less than 30 minutes earlier. It was on the ground less than two hours before that. It can turn around and do it again. And other ships will get built which will do it, too.

The power here is that it's more gentle, and more quick, than anything a government has done. Its power is precisely that it can get up and get back, with an ease and style that the world has never seen before.

Hmm, that's sort of how I like to work, too. Quickly, with ease and grace.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Castles in the sand

Alameda's 38th annual Sand Castle and Sculpture contest was great fun! Nicholas and I made this:

And here's another view

The overall winner:

My personal favorite, a sculpture of sea lions on the wharf at Pier 39. I liked not only how wonderfully executed it was, but also that every male who walked by had to give his rendering of the animals' barking.

And a wonderful castle by a family that should have taken a prize

Our books and DVD of our upcoming trip to learn how to build with SuperAdobe (click here to learn about Nader Khalili) arrived while we were playing in the sand. That sparked a connection in my head, that I can use his coiled sandbag and barbed wire technology as the superstructure for some amazing and beautiful environmental art!

So I am really, really excited, that I suddenly have a new tool with which to pursue my dream of creating public sculpture.

Monday, June 14, 2004

I Love my job, #2

As I think about it a little more, there's another aspect to this banner that is easy to overlook. I'll make it specific and clear.

Often, a promotion budget is far tighter than it should be. Spending a little more would create a far more memorable impression. But we work with what we've got.

A tight budget usually cuts out project management, or art direction, since the concrete expenses (# of flyers, # of mailers, etc.) is fixed. So what happens? The event is poorly promoted because the printer designs a flyer, the newspaper folks design an advert, the email newsletter is designed by office staff, and so on, until it looks like there are three or four events and everyone is worn out just trying to figure out what is really going on.


Yes, I am a design professional, and no, I didn't get contacted to develop the image or theme for this "Concerts at the Cove" event, but I did get the job of making a pair of street banners. The logo didn't fit at all, there were far too many colors, and the request included too much text but an awareness that there needed to be less text.

To help keep uniformity and consistency, I used the flyer and the newspaper advert to design the banner, artfully massaging the data so it presents a clear hierarchy of impression, and simply made the best banners I could.

It's because the goal is not to stroke my design ego. I hope I've let that monster go. The focus is not to one-up the other people working on the other components.

It's because the goal is to get folks to attend the concert. That is what I sincerely want. That the work I do, does its job, of promoting the client's event.

For "Concerts at the Cove," I met this goal.

So that's why I love my job.

I love my job, #1

I love to build relationships with my clients. It's a slower path to success than the "Sell, Sell SELL!" model. For my own part, I neither like nor dislike cold calling, but I hate receiving a cold call. So perhaps by building up through word of mouth and excellent service I am modeling the behavior I hope to receive.

I've been cultivating the relationship with WABA (West Alameda Business Association) not through any high-pressure sales method, but simply by showing up and being my natural self. The director has come to look out for me, and she enjoys finding good work for me to do. Although they have very little money to spend on promotions right now, the more I work with them, the more successful they will become, and we'll both be rewarded.

And here you have one of these successes. I am familiar with the type of banner the city's maintenance crew wants to install (note the GIANT wind slots, which are more for piece of mind than any real function) and I know how to artfully massage a logo and text so that the information forms a clear hierarchy for the viewer, and I'm excellent at putting this sort of thing together.

Banner over Park Street reads: Concerts at the Cove

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Building up or tearing down?

My response to learning of Denise's suicide has been to initiate preventive measures all around me. How do can I avoid finding myself or those I care about in this situation? It seems that preventing isolation is the key.

We'll always have circumstances that knock us for a loop: a failed financial deal, a relationship that sours or even becomes abusive, a sudden illness in the family, an expectation that isn't met... we each have our life journey to attend.

When these happen, don't we talk about it? Include someone else in our story? I know I hear people complain about how they've been treated. I hear it a lot. What I don't here is when someone feels that they've been made a fool of. At least not often. I know that's a hard one for me to share: "Hey, I feel really bad about this dumb situation I've generated for myself. Will you listen to me spill about how foolish I've been?"

And yet, these are the situations with the most to offer us as we learn to be better people.

Shoot, everyone makes mistakes. Pick yourself up, get guidance from a friend or a trusted person or from prayer, and leap into the next opportunity to make a mistake.

The concrete thing I've done this last week is to let people know that I'm willing to share stories about how Denise's death is affecting us. It's a risk, to turn a business call or meeting into a soul-search, but doing this has strengthened my connection to a half-dozen people, and weakened it in one case. That one acted very callous. Now I have a new insight about the type of person I choose to support in the good work I do.

We are here to be a blessing to each other. That's a two-way street, and this last week I've been much better at letting people bless me.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Asking for help

I might post a journal entry from a couple weeks ago, from back when things looked really scary and darkness filled me. Only for the reason of making it clear that I really understand how dark it can get for anyone, locked inside mind and fears. Why is this important today? Because I chose one path, and I just found out that a friend chose the other.

My friend Denise committed suicide on Friday. I've known her for a couple of years. I designed logos and a slew of branding elements for her business. One thing about the kind of work I do, is that people have to get very honest about what motivates them, and strong friendships blossom from that honesty. I feel like she really understood me, and I her.

Like her, I'm a vibrant person. Like her, lots of people like me. Like her, I'm doing a lot and getting a lot done. Also like her, the pressure to be the strong one, the one with the answers, the one who always says, "Can do!" clearly sets up an overwhelm, an internal toggle that switches and separates us from the people who could help us. What, me? Need help? I just have to push through this somehow, and then I can get back to my (self assigned) role as hero!

Honestly, I would not commit suicide. But I am capable of becoming a complete shut-in, and of holding the entire world at bay. My perception shifts so that abundance becomes burden, and I lack worthiness to consume anything stronger than air.

What I see is that I can't fight or sleep or drink my way out of these moods. As much as I hate it and as much as my internal tape runs to tell me it's not the right thing to do, I let someone safe know what is going on inside. And I mean, the real truth about what I'm feeling, to someone who can listen and accept. This simple act of relating to someone who doesn't need me for anything, opens doors to new paths of wholesome behavior. I don't "get better" but I do get a needed "reset." It's usually not my wife who can listen like this. In fact, Denise and I did just this for each other a few times.

Dang, I wish she had talked to me first.

I miss her already.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Abundance of work

I just told my wife of fifteen years that I'd be coming to bed in a few minutes, so there's a promise I can keep.

I'm keeping another promise to myself. I'm moving all my projects forwards a little bit each day. Over the long weekend, it was a redesign of my business websites. I like how it's coming together. I even found time to toss a small page up for the demonstration project.

I have booked so much work, and my family still needs me in my other roles. How will it all get done? I haven't missed a deadline yet, and I have only one client who is wondering where we stand, but I've been working on that project. So I am not too concerned that I will let anyone down.

I am sure glad I know and do yoga. I could never sustain this level of activity and broad spectrum of demands without it.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

I have to do this

As a people we haven't yet learned that violence begets violence.

I am sick at heart, at the moment. I was going to write that the papers today remind us that our California energy crisis is still going on, and it's soon to be Governor Arnold's problem. But then my eye caught a story about two children, dead from stabbing, and their father alive but stabbed seriously and now in the hospital.

The article mentions the family moved into the neighborhood two weeks ago, and that the mother might have been at work at the time. Lately the father had been seen "With his hat and lunch in hand, looking for work." The article mentions he played ball with his kids, and already had a bar-b-que cook-out in their new place. They children were ages 3 and 4.

My understanding of what constitutes "violence" has been expanding greatly. If I stay up too late, I commit violence against my body, and it gets weaker. If I live in a toxic home, I commit violence upon my self, too. If I live in an abusive neighborhood, and don't take action to create harmony, then I am adding to the problem.

So even though the restoration project looks like it's about a house, it's really about community. How do we reclaim our relationships? What can I do to make it safer, not just for me and my family, but for people around me?

In the same paper, Bill Cosby is reported to have called knuckleheads... well, knuckleheads. As a man who has witnessed class struggle, I'd say he's probably in a position to make accurate observations. I hope people listen. He says, "I choose to say something about this." Well, Bill, I choose to say and to do something about it. You have a huge gift with words, and I often hear my father in your voice. So you keep it up.

But me, I have to act. It's a mission. I have got the sign making business set up so it runs itself. This supports the graphic design I like to do and much of my community involvement needs. Now I can invest some of my social capital and move this healing project forward.

I feel God's touch on me, now, so even though I weep for the innocent of the world, I am also strengthened in my resolve to build non-violent relationships around me.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Hopping on the Bandwagon

It's my first blog post, ever!

I've been building websites and web graphics since 1996. I even used FTP to conduct web-based meetings, as I shared my designs with folks who couldn't use their email but could surf the web! So why wait until now to Blog?

I've learned to be a late adopter of technology. I've saved thousands of dollars being like this, while not sacrificing anything. I'll adopt a technology after I have a use for it and after it's robust enough to satisfy that use.

What changed?

I finally have a dream that is big enough. I know what I am going to do in my part of saving the world! As a microcosm of our distressed world, I am taking a distressed Victorian or Craftsman that's been duplexed and I'm using green building and sustainable practices to renovate it. There's been a few positive developments lately, and so it's time to get this into the world!