A watched pot

Cheapskate… or disorganized?

I had to have a document printed in a few hours and I had no “regular” paper. The ink jet generally collects dust unless I am printing out a CD cover, label, or a photo on glossy stock. Even when I get directions from Mapquest, I jot them down by hand on the back of a student loan envelope.

I just don’t print that much.

So I X-acto up some notebook paper from a pad and run it through. Blotches appear with streaks until the tension and alignment is properly set.

There’s no time to reprint though, as each page seems to be taking 10 minutes.

Funny how there’s a correlation between need and time. I finally just gave up on pacing and decided to take care of some chores.

The thing finally printed, and holding the ruled paper in my hands I thought, this looks cool.

Maybe not “professional,” but cool.

Categorized as Design, Work

Build your own

The ReadyMade $1500.00 shack

Today was productive, but I’ve yet to pack my bags for the next trip and the hours are slipping away. I got things out the virtual door, posted and checked off. I went to the bank. I tweaked my brother’s resumé. I did not get a haircut.

I wrestled with OS 9 for a good hour, blanking out at how odd the Mac used to be. Who thought a Chooser made sense?

As evening fell, I went over to my friends’ house for babytime and chinese food. Their little one continues to exhibit new skills like holding spoons (if only for a while before reverting to hands).

It’s so much easier to eat with your hands. Maybe adults have it wrong.

After bath and bottle, it was time to sink into the couch with the TV pleasantly off and three laptops illuminating our faces. This is social, really. To explain it would take an essay.

At one point, they produced plans from ReadyMade Magazine– a prefab studio/shack that could be made on the cheap with materials from any hardware store.

I’d never heard of the publication, and I was giddy with the issues I glanced through. Simple ideas that could be executed with basic materials.

As I get long in the tooth, I pine for perspectives like this. I’ve always found resourcefulness to be an inspirational quality.


Testing out the Oldham collection at Lazyboy

Mid-afternoon, the three bears and myself ventured over to the La-z-boy showroom to check out the Todd Oldham collection that Chad spotted in an ad.

The stuff looked great online, and with it being La-z-boy, there was hopes that the crisp lines would not suffer from what normally flaws designer furniture; pretty but uncomfortable.

Well, this stuff was super plush. Too plush perhaps? Would the foam and fabric hold up? Jim just plopped his bare feet up on the couch in front of the saleslady to test and make sure.

Afterward, we zipped over to Elise’s house and got to meet her parents and hang with the husband and kid sushi (a moniker for his profound hankering for the raw fish).

The food was great.

The weather was awesome.

The conversation and games afterward were superfun.

St. Louis has even more cool reasons to return for visits.

Ban Mr. Smiley

The de-evolution of license plates

I’ve mentioned my disdain before. I think license plate design is going straight down the crapper. It’s a perfect example of technology advancements that can be filed under “unnecessary” (along with a handful of Photoshop filters that should be banned).

Funny thing is, the new Kentucky plates are causing quite an effect on inhabitants of the bluegrass state. Sales in custom plates have skyrocketed ever since the new “mr smiley” designs appeared. Maybe this was their intention, to rack up profits at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Folks are retaliating though, putting bullet hole stickers over the happy sun, or mad faces. In fact, if you live in KY, you can pick up a sticker at all Cox’s Smokers Outlets. Yes. You read that right… Cox’s Smokers.

I have to thank Dave for bringing this important issue to my attention.

Fun Related Link: EXTENSIVE License Plate Galleries

Categorized as Design

2004 Auto Show, Columbus OH

The new Nissan Quest – weerdest production interior of the lot

I love lookin’ at cars. I figure it’s like women and shoes, or purses.

I can window shop and feel sated.

The auto show this year was filled with more retro-updates and fancy tail lights that’ve become so popular of late. Aside from a bland showing from VW (I don’t fit in the Toerag and the pricetag on the Phaeton is LUDICROUS) – it was a mostly good waste of time.

I think Ford’s renewed interest in cars is a good thing. American automakers love to let things fester to a point where it just damages their entire line.

I couldn’t find the new Corvette, but that’s okay, I think the loss of popup headlamps to fit within European standards is a mistake.

Let’s see, what else? Oh, I think gray is the new black for 2004. Most models sported the subdued hue.

I think to spice up attendance, automakers should dress the car model models in pvc or rubber.

PhotosHere’s a few angles that caught my eye.


Columbus Convention Center:
(Peter) Eisenman Architects with Richard Trott & Partners

The sun was raking across the street as I stepped out of work in Columbus this evening. Slightly exhausted from an early morning commute and full day of whirlwind decisions, I drove to pick up mouthwash cause I thought my breath tasted bad and went back to the hotel to take a nap.

At a stoplight, I got this photo of the Convention Center, an odd structure by the same fella behind the Wexner Center back at my old stomping grounds of Ohio State.

His approach tends to polarize opinion, but I’ll admit I fall into a gray middle area. I find the use of shape and color to be refreshing, but the odd corners and arrangement of space generally disturbs my sensibilities. The Wexner Center has a great example of this “building as art” concept, with a staircase that leads up to nowhere. I also think buildings that require renovations after fifteen years seem suspect.


In other news, I found that after stepping on a scale yesterday, that I weigh more than I ever have in my entire life.

My high carb diet is really paying off.

Categorized as Design

The parts of letterforms

This is what I was tested on in school

Every profession has a language.

Here are some words common to a typographer. For the most part, these words never really come up in the daily grind of a designer. Design somehow exists on soft, subjective language that gets into feelings and moods. Who needs semantics when you can have “cool” or “pretty”?

This entry stems from a conversation with Marmot at a museum in German. We talked briefly about type. I felt all tongue tied. My ability to communicate what I had memorized in college was lost. So I brushed up on the terms.

Baseline: An imaginary line upon which the base of each capital letter rests.

Capline: An imaginary line that runs along the tops of the capital letters.

Meanline: An imaginary line that establishes the height of the body of lowercase letters.

X-height: The distance from the baseline to the meanline. Typically, this is the height of lowercase letters and is most easily measured on the lowercase x.

All characters align optically on the baseline. The bodyheights of lowercase characters align optically at the x-height, and the tops of capitals align optically along the capline. To achieve precise alignments, the typeface designer makes optical adjustments. (What does this mean? This means that characters with a curve like an o actually rest a little below the baseline and a little about the meanline to visually match letterforms with a defined edge.

Apex: The peak of the triangle of an uppercase A.

Arm: A projecting horizontal stroke that is unattached on one or both ends, as in the letters T and E.

Ascender: A stroke on a lowercase letter that rises above the meanline.

Bowl: A curved stroke enclosing the counterform of a letter. An exception is the bottom form of the lowercase roman g, which is called a loop.

Counter: The negative space that is fully or partially enclosed by a letterform.

Crossbar: The horizontal stroke connecting two sides of a letterform (as in e, A, and H) or bisecting the main stroke (as in f and t).

Descender: A stroke on a lowercase letterform that falls below the baseline.

Ear: A small stroke that projects from the upper right side of the bowl of the lowercase roman g.

Eye: The enclosed part of the lowercase e.

Fillet: The contoured edge that connects the serif and stem in bracketed serifs. (Bracketed serifs are connected to the main stroke by this curved edge; unbracketed serifs connect to the main stroke with an abrupt angle without this contoured transition.)

Hairline: The thinnest strokes within a typeface that has strokes of varying weights.

Leg: The lower diagonal stroke on the letter k.

Link: The stroke that connects the bowl and the loop of a lowercase roman g.

Loop: See bowl.

Serifs: Short strokes that extend from and at an angle to the upper and lower ends of the major strokes of a letterform.

Shoulder: A curved stroke of the letter S.

Spur: A projection – smaller than a serif – that reinforces the point at the end of a curved stroke, as in the letter G.

Stem: A major vertical or diagonal stroke in a letterform.

Stroke: Any of the linear elements within a letterform; originally, any mark or dash made by the movement of a pen or brush in writing.

Tail: A diagonal stroke or loop at the end of a letter, as in R or j.

Terminal: The end of any stroke that does not terminate with a serif.

Adapted for the screen from Typographic Design: Form and Communication by Rob Carter, Ben Day and Philip Meggs

Categorized as Design

Europe: Day 6 – You say Cologne, I say Köln (poorly)

I ♥ European timetables

Leaving Amsterdam seemed jolting. After I had just realized I had no notion of how to get around, it was time to leave. Alas, it was a nice pace of getting up and having one last breakfast at the Golden Bear. This consisted of meats, cheese, bread, juice, coffee or tea. I had been stuffing extra sandwiches in my bag that had come in handy over the course of the trip.

Brian and I managed to get ourselves to the station and on the right train without our cruise director. They were off earlier on a sidetrip to visit family of some sort.

The ICE was a nice ride. With ‘lectrical outlet for computery types, nice seats that reclined. Fancy LED lights at the head of the car, and countless amenities.

I studied the train schedules and marveled at the nice information design while the scenery zipped by. It was an overcast day and the line between Netherlands and Deutschland was a blur.

We got to the hotel and rejoined with our travel companions not much later and probably went to a bar.

It was a pretty swank hotel considering (the room had a bidet!), and sleep was prudent, albeit increasingly difficult with the onset of jatlag.

Once again, I’m reminded I need to be thrown in a home

The new color of caution

I went to visit Tiny Tina to get my beard whacked and back-of-my-neck fur shaved. I always get some bit of knowledge when I visit my barber in Kentucky. Today, as I grabbed a handful of beard trimmings I said, "Whoa, look at all that gray!"

"That’s not gray dear, that’s silver." Tina replied.

"What’s the difference?" I asked.

"You get gray hair when you get old. Silver comes from experience and wisdom."

I think I’m getting old though. As I drove back from the barber shop, I spied one of those new traffic signs a few blocks down. I like to think I am an open minded and progressive person, but the day-glo… it irks me.

Thing is, I understand the usability that likely fueled this change. These signs are inherently more visible. They just "stick out" more.

I liked the yellow-orange they were before. At least this was a color that nature could reproduce. Now I fret the lines in the roads will take on this new hue. Construction worker’s hats will get all fluorescent.

Another part of me is wondering about all this resistance I have to change. Where did this come from? When was the imprint made? Will the music kids listen to start to grate on me? Like polyester pants, will my wardrobe be limited to the grunge of my college days?

I’m getting old. It’s true.

I’m going out tomorrow to get those wrap-around safety shades. That’ll take the edge off, I know.

Categorized as Design

You’ve seen the money

Visual excerpts from the WAY COOL* site with interactive flash tour of the new bill

But have you seen the budget for the advertising campaign?

“The U.S. government is spending $32 million — that’s 1.6 million new twenties — to let you know what’s up with the double sawbuck” As written by the Holland Sentinel.

Related Link: The New Color of Money Website

* Sarcasm.
It IS a pretty site, but perhaps TOO pretty

Categorized as Design