Category Archives: General

Weekend at Yogi’s

Last weekend the gang rented a big house upstate for a sort of FEAST reunion / send-off. The spot was a friend of a friend’s yoga retreat home we dubbed the hippie house.

I liked the spirit of the place — not fussy, cobbled together, shelves and storage and built out of what’s laying around. Someone said there’s lots of photo ops and that got me looking at all the weirdo stuff as “props” … a funny way to look at the things in your house.

We had a good time, laughed, ate, drank, bonfired, speculated on country life and so on.

Manage the World

Just home from Massive Attack V. Adam Curtis at the Park Ave Armory.

Impressive setup. I am weary of standing-in-one-place-for-too-long rock shows … but a film / rock show. I love it! Screens lined the room and the band was occasionally illuminated behind three screens in the front. You could look wherever you wanted and see the same images. Most people still faced forward (and one particular fellow near me took lots of photos for some reason. After the film was over his first comment was about the licensing of the music. I think he “lost the plot” as the British would say).

Tonight’s Themes:

    In lieu of dreaming of the future, we’re presented with a two-dimensional representations of reality.

    Feedback loop — we imagine the fears and fear the imaginary.

    Politicians, leaders, countries no longer want to change the world, the want to manage it, keep it balanced, and predict the future through algorithms analyzing data.

Quite a bit to absorb, including the usual sense of “ok, now what am I supposed to do?” when I watch a powerful film that raises a lot of questions.

Adam Curtis’s films are great. Century of the Self, Power of Nightmares, and All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace are posted on the various internets (some have 3 parts).

Hey Chief

Tonight I went to a design event called Designer’s Debate Club. The topic was: should designers lead companies, or do designers make good CEOs?

—image via DDC

Everyone wants to be a CEO now that people wearing hoodies and jeans have become billionaires. Remember when people wanted to be design ninjas and pirates and shit like that? While that was kinda silly, at least it’s not trying to emulate corporate structure. Thoughtful leadership is necessary, however the CEO title (and even Designer) are too loaded with preconceived notions. I’d rather be on a team focused on meaningful work versus worrying about who has a say and who doesn’t.

Besides, I remember someone once telling me that “chief” is Boston-speak for “asshole.”

No Need to Respond

The web’s worst neighborhood is the comment section. It fuels a belief that you’re involved in someone else’s efforts, that you have some valuable expertise — with in an inverse ratio of knowledge to input. Tolerated because the web is supposed to be a social experience measured on clicks and comments.

With every project ventured, artwork created, idea attempted, year grown older — I’ve become less critical of makers. Initiating takes effort. Knee-jerk reactions require none. My perspective has shifted from “I could do that better (if I tried)” to “I have no idea how hard this must have been.”

The ‘The Unconsulted’ segment of Paul Ford’s The Web Is a Customer Service Medium essay comes to mind with every new project with a social component:

If you tap into the human need to be consulted you can get some interesting reactions. Here are a few: Wikipedia, Stack Overflow, Hunch, Reddit, MetaFilter, YouTube, Twitter, StumbleUpon, About, Quora, Ebay, Yelp, Flickr, IMDB,, Craigslist, GitHub, SourceForge, every messageboard or site with comments, 4Chan, Encyclopedia Dramatica. Plus the entire Open Source movement. If you spend more time on sites like those listed here than you do reading books, watching TV, or visiting sites like or, then, like me, the web is now your native medium.

Then there’s YouTube. It was created so that anyone could upload and distribute videos. So that’s one level of Why Wasn’t I Consulted? — to hell with TV, people should look at me! The site has comments, so people can discuss the videos — a second level of WWIC. But there are now also thumbs-up/thumbs-down icons so that you can rank the comments and the video, a third level of WWIC.

Once you see that third level, a website is complete. You’re down to the bedrock. A boolean or integer value is the digital equivalent of a grunt. You can’t get any more basic than a like, or a thumbs-up, or a favorite.

(I recommend listening to the audio version at the beginning of this very good episode.)

When we share, what do we expect? Ford says we’ve boiled it down to grunts — likes, +1s, stars, favs, thumb up, RTs, etc. Does the grunt have any real value? Does the grunt deserve our attention? How many grunts is enough grunts? Harumph!

I wonder about the best possible outcome of someone’s gut-reaction commentary?

    “I hate you.”

    “Ok, I will change.”

Do people want failure?

—Amazing. Via I Am An Object Of Internet Ridicule, Ask Me Anything comment section.

My point: Be aware of the impulse to spend your time consuming, consulting and editing the work of others. It eats entire days, so much so that you never make your own marks. I catch myself at it too often.

“Everybody loves to think of the title, not a lot of people are willing to write the book.”
—Via a Humans of New York caption

Peeking Under the Hood

Last week I went to visit Shawn, Danny, and Matthew at Harvest.

Harvest is a web-based time tracking and invoicing application relied on by creative businesses in over 100 countries. Shawn interviewed Sam and I back in 2007 for their former studio’s blog.

I was genuinely excited to visit the office (and confused when others didn’t share my enthusiasm … looking back, time-tracking might not seem like the sexiest thing in the world). What is impressive is that they’ve built a thriving business that actually solves a problem — and they charge money for it! I follow startup news, and I do not understand the buzz around those that have no explicit purpose and get crazy evaluations. The office was beautiful and quiet — I love a quiet office. We talked for 1.5 hours (…I wonder if they tracked it?) about their work culture and the tech industry. Many similar topics came up during my visit to 37signals. Very thoughtful, progressive, and free of typical office structure bullshit. Most importantly they value a design process as the foundation of their work.

I showed them some of my work and they asked me why I wanted to transition to digital. I need to work on my answer, I haven’t fully formed my thoughts around that … more on that soon.

Original Artworks

I set up an etsy shop the other day. Several motivations led to this:

  • Very satisfied after buying a drawing off instagram.
  • To make some money. (Goal is $1000.)
  • To take the idea of selling my art more seriously.

I picked my best drawings from the last several years and priced them accordingly. My criteria were time and quality. I’ve been monitoring the stats. Etsy has their own engine, and I assigned different bitly links to my social media pushes.

A facebook post got 105 clicks. Then I ‘promoted’ it for $7, and it has gotten 2 more clicks since then. I hit the ceiling on views w/o promoting.

A twitter post got 1 click. I’m done with twitter. Took it off my home screen and bookmarks.

An instagram post got 1 click. There’s not an easy way to click links in instagram, it’d be a tough conversion to make a sale on mobile for a drawing.

A post I made in the comments of a popular blog got 9 clicks. I need to find other appropriate places to get listed. esty is so crowded.

So far I’ve sold 5 of the lowest-priced drawings to my friends. My next goal is to sell to a stranger. Getting people to spend a little money is hard! It’s funny how we don’t blink an eye at dropping $40 on pizza and beer, then wrestle over buying something lasting like art or a book.

State of Wonder

This is the kind of book that gets brought up when those ‘summer reading list’ posts come out. An all around good book. I did see most of the plot twists coming down the line. Except maybe one. I did get a little Fountainhead vibe from the characters.

Listened to the Murakami memoir / book about running. Was hoping for some kind of revelatory revelation type of thing. It was mainly about how he goes running and likes to go running and the different runs he goes on and how sometimes he struggles with his running but he enjoys it and works through it. He used to run a jazz bar.

Started to listen to the Keith Richards Biography, but I just couldn’t deal with it and shut it down about 5 hours in. (It’s 23 hours long!).

Put in a few days of drawing. Felt nice, I haven’t really done any serious drawing in over two years. I don’t know why… Makes me regret not doing it. I guess there must be a reason and I shouldn’t punish myself for what I haven’t done.

Went to visit 3 different artist friend’s studios in the last 2 weeks. The artist’s lifestyle is for me, man.

Watched this move Money & Life last night. It had a few things that got me thinking … money is meant to circulate. When a few people horde the money, the circulation stops. If the economy is to be healthy, its blood (money) needs to flow. I suppose this is why the Fed pumps money into the world.

It also included the harmful message of “we don’t need money to get by” message. Which, theoretically can be true, but I really hate that attitude of “I don’t, and won’t ever understand money.” If you feel that way, then you probably won’t have any money or at least control over your money. Learn to think about value.

Been going to Iona for the garden and Nick S’s food. Mira had a little get-together, KR had a little bday party. Adelle came thru town and played a little rock show at Matchless. Nice to get out of the house sometimes. Esha’s fixed up our porch.

The Orphan Master’s Son

Since I’d read the book I’d brought on vacay a faster than I’d expected, I once again looked to the TOB and picked this year’s winner The Orphan Master’s Son.

This is one helluva book. Set in North Korea, which was enough to intrigue me. It’s kind of like a North Korean Forrest Gump, where the main character takes you through just about every social class there is. I came across some photos on facebook too that helped paint the picture of the public settings. ★★★★★

The Sense of an Ending

I checked out three books that were on last year’s Tournament of Books. Esha asked me how I pick out my books, since they’re all over the place. The answer is solely through lists and recommendations. Same for movies, if I see a list, I’ll copy it and try to work my way through.

The Sense of an Ending was short and I read it in about 4 hours. The book is British and about four friends and relationships over a lifetime and memory. It was a nice book.

I read 1/2 of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. It might have been useful, but I was too distracted by the bad typesetting and all the markings some crazy library patron had made. At least half of the book was underlined and notated.

Wed — Pizza

Thur — Pizza, then Design Drinks at The Richardson. Mostly talked to Andy about a Natural History Museum themed restaurant.

Fri — Pizza

Sat — Went to Miami Beach. Had fried goat and a big fish and mojitos at Tap Tap. Walked around some, drinks by the pool at the Raleigh. Watched basketball on tv.

Sun — Went to Books & Books for breakfast. Ordered a sandwich with soft eggs and hard bread. I took one bite and all the yolk squirted down my shirt. I had egg on my face! Such a mess.

The beach was cloudy and drizzling. So we went to the Wolfsonian for a couple hours. Then back to the beach where it was sunny and windy. Slept on the sand, got in the ocean, got a sunburn.

Drinks by the pool at The Hotel.

Dinner in a strip mall called Jimmy’z Kitchen. Had mofongo. I thought it was good. We’d ordered the steak version, but they brought shrimp. I don’t care for shrimp, but we were too hungry to bother sending it back. Went for ice cream after.

Mon — Really great fish tacos at Alma Mexicana. Back to the beach. This time I brought beers and snacks and rented beach chairs and an umbrella. Much better than laying on the ground. No clouds and no wind. Ice cream again. Great day.

Had dinner at Florida Cookery. They’re billed as a place that does local and fresh food. It was fairly disappointing and clunky all around.

Tue — Got up early to watch the sunrise. Napped, packed, went to the Delano for Pina Coladas by the pool. Had a cuban sandwich and cafe con leche at the airport.

Wed — Shaved my beard and got a haircut. Got some good news about a job this summer.

Week in Review

Tuesday I went to see Nato and the Heard NY thing at Grand Central. Enjoyed Kati Roll, my fav mid-town lunch. We went to see Spring Breakers. Was about what I expected. I thought it’d be a bit more ‘shocking’ — of course there were 3 teen girls behind us that kept repeating lines from the film over and over. It was like YouTube comments IRL. I had to turn around and say “shut the fuck up.” They did.

Wednesday I ran for the first time in a long while. I didn’t do so well. Maybe 1.25 mile. Met the fellas for some beers at the German bar on Fulton and had another in the nabe.

Thursday Mike and I cut some pipes. We need a few more things from Home Depot.

Friday I drove Esha to a multimillion dollar home to solve the case of the mis-delivered shoes. Case not closed. We had a hamburger and then later I went to watch KU lose against Michigan in the sweet sixteen. Had a fine time.

Saturday I took the compost to the library and did some work.

Sunday I did some more work, then went to Mike’s to work on the fish tank. We had hamburgers.