31 January 2009

Atrios Seems Impressed

1935.Atrios, eternal source of inspiration and one of The Great Bloggers, notes the opening of WES.

Approves of the WiFi.

Hopefully the economy will improve to the point where I can afford a device that will can take advantage of it (why should everyone else have all the fun?).

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29 January 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, or Aretha Franklin's Hat Spotted in PDX (updated)


And I just realized, as much as I enjoy Kimberly, Tony, Joe, and Matt, there's one person who needs a touch of class more than most, and who are we to deny him?

It is, as some acquaintances might say, fabulous!

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The Treachery Of Images, 2009 PDX Version

1933.The world famous Magritte painting, The Treachery of Images, painted by the Surrealist master in 1929, made a statement about mapping meanings to objects. It, in case you haven't seen it (you actually have, if you don't think you have, you're just about to realize it), it depicts an unremarkable pipe (the kind you smoke tobacco in) with the legend in cursive beneath "Cece n'est pas une pipe" – this is not a pipe.

It teaches a lesson on meaning. As Magritte himself is said to have said:
The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe,’ I’d have been lying!
In the spirit I interpret coming from the great Surrealist (who also happens to be my favorite 20th Century artist) I provide what to me is a sign of the times:

Given the disucssion above, you can see this works no matter what POV you have. If you think Sam should resign, then the image explains itself. If you enjoy the play of semiotics, then you know that this is not a Mayor ... it's just an image of one, it can't vote or attend City Council meetings or fib about dating an 18-year-old when he should have known better, and it can never redeem itself or earn forgiveness, and you can make that observation whether or not you care about whether or not he resigns or continues.

And if you really like meta, the message can be that the news coverage about the situation may not be the true story of the situation at all (I wonder if we'll ever know).

So, as the master might have said about this, "The famous Mayor ... how people have reproached me for it! But can you elect it to office? No, it is just a representation, is it not? If I had written on my picture 'This is a mayor,' I'd have been lying!"

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28 January 2009

The New Look Of Portland Street Blades Comes To 57th And Division

1932.We can now be more sure we've detected a trend.

Back on 28 December, in posting #1888, we shared a happy discovery we found at the corner of SE 117th Ave and Division Street, in our humble neighborhood. It looked like this:

(go to this posting to see the other images, and the design discussion on it) We were quite excited about it at the time ... the design of Portland's street blades is something we think has been a long time in coming. The breakthrough was in the large, clear format which still had that "Portland" look to it, and most importantly, includes the crossing street block number as an integral part of the design, which is a boon to people trying to find an address.

Well, coming east on SE Division Street a few days ago, we spotted another example of this sign in the Franklin High School area, specifically, SE 57th and Division:

That building in the background there is Atkinson Elementary School. But is this not nifty? Here's a view of the Division Street blade:

The "2400" block index on the sign isn't an error by the way. Between SE 42nd Avenue and SE 82nd Avenue, Division Street jogs a half-block to the north to become the 24th street south of Burnside, therefore the 2400 block. The 2500 block is defined by a little street called SE Windsor Court, which exists in a few fragments one block south of Division in that area. Everywhere else, it's 2500.

The numbered avenue blade also fowards the design we saw on SE 117th Avenue:

As you can see on the right there is one of the MetroFi WiFi antennas. Kind of a set here: the street blade is your tax dollars at work, the WiFi antenna is your tax dollars at rest. Oh, were do I find the wit for these things?

But it's not just the north side of the street that gets the new blades. It's on the south side too:

It's nice and visible even at the kinda-crappy resolution of my awesome plastic fantastic.

For those of me who obsess about these things, this is a big signal. One new set of street blades at a street corner out near 122nd and Division could just be a test. Three new sets ... including a completely-signed intersection on both sides of the street ... indicate that this may indeed be the new design for Portland's street blades.

It's intriguing that they've so far done two intersections that so happen to be on Division Street.

And this design is a good one, as I've said before. I don't know who came up with this look, but, seriously, you've hit it out of the park, yo.

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The Signs Tell Us This Is Parking

1931. At the end of this posting about the new style of Portland street blade, Paul Vandeventer, of Los Angeles CA, left me the following feedback:

I need a picture of a sign I saw near Flanders and 10th Ave NW in Portland. It depicts a hand dropping a coin, as if into a parking meter, and is meant to remind people parking their cars at the curb to pay for the time they'll be there at a nearby parking kiosk. I need it to prove to the City of Pasadena, where my wife was shopping when she was ticketed, that a clearer, more direct means of communication exists by which a city can easily convey by signage their expectation that folks will pay. Pasadena has misleading verbal signs that fool people into believing that one hour of parking is free...and then there parking patrol officers tag cars with expensive tickets. Hope you've got one of them in your archive somewhere. Thanks.

Hey, Paul, thanks for asking. It's actually quite flattering. But here's what I think you were looking for. Let's go to the corner of NW 10th Avenue and Flanders Street in our legendary Pearl district:

(click here to embiggen this and to go to the Photobucket album where large versions of all these illustrations are located) At first I was afraid that I wouldn't know what to look for but when I went down to that corner, I knew what Paul was talking about immediately, which I think sort of proves his point. Moreover, if you look down about midblock, you'll see a sign that locates the parking ticket dispenser for you.

Let's get another look. These signs are crucial, because unlike a city where parking meters are located at every parking space, you need these signs to be in your face as you drive by. They need to be noticable at eye level and they also need to be simple enough to be read quickly while still containing enough information to deliver the proper message.

This is an ever better view of one. There are letterforms just below the symbols to small to see, but you know at once that you'll be paying to park here. That's just the beauty of hierarchy. And it's at a height that's impossible to miss as you're driving past. We saw many of them as we were driving through. They're almost impossible to miss.

Let's move in real close, and see just what sort of information each sign delivers:

Can it get clearer than that? The questions of what, when, and where is amply answered by the sign, and every intersection has them mounted on every corner showing in the direction every car is likely to be coming in. The symbology even shows you what the shape of the machine it is you have to be looking for.

Here is what that machine looks like, from the street side (you fellow Portlanders already know this):

It's a system that is clear and unambiguous. It pretty much documents itself. Each different parking limit has a distinctive color and very clear signage designed to be seen by a person with normal vision from up to a half block away (as we saw in the first one)

It's so clear that one thinks that even someone from the City of Pasadena could use it. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

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How Portland Grew

1930.Here is a very interesting map detailing how the City of Portland grew by annexations, broken down over decades from the city's inception:

Clicky here to embiggen. The Portland that our parents and grandparents knew was pretty much that area in yellow, orange, and red in the middle. Growth continued but slowed during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s (the smaller bits round that hot central area) then really started galloping to the north and east mostly as the area between Portland and Gresham got gobbled up in a mere 10-year span (1985-1995, approximately) and the floodplain of the Columbia at about the same time.

The reddest part there, in the middle covering Old Town and today's Downtown district approximates, unless I am very much mistaken, the old Donation Land Claims of Captain Couch (north of Ankeny Street) and the Lovejoy/Pettygrove partnership (south of Ankeny Street)

The small red-orange quadrilateral touching the river in today's Lloyd district might approximate the old city of Albina: the part of the great orange area south of today's Banfield Freeway approximate the former City of East Portland.

You can get your own PDF copy of this map by going to the Bureau of Planning and Sustainable Development's annexations web page here and looking for the link that downloads the document. It's at the bottom of the third paragraph, and reads historical map of large annexations to the City of Portland (or you can just click that link there–dialup users warning; it's 2.8 MB)

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27 January 2009

Thomas Phinney In Da (font)House, Y'all!

1929.One of the great modern typographers, Thomas Phinney, has opened an independent blog.

Since he comes from Adobe, you should listen to him. As you do with me, you should do whatever he says.

Go now to Phinney on Fonts.

If you don't, kittens and ducklings will cry, because you're a mean person. you!

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If Eric Gill Used A Computer, This Would Be A Font File Called "Untitled-1"

1928.As seen on the Typophile list, it looks like some unknown, unfinished work by the great Eric Gill has come to light:

In September 1935 Gill drew for Monotype a stressed sans-serif type with many prophetic qualities: it looked forward to Hermann Zapf's 'serifless roman' Optima of nearly a quarter of a century later. Although it was given a series number (430), and a few trial sorts were cut, it was never issued to the trade.
— Sebastian Carter, Twentieth Century Type Designers

A clipping from one of the sites talking about it can be seen here on the right.

It's quite a beautiful thing that does indeed anticipate Optima (seen at left), an exercise in subtly-classic design accomplished by the equally-great Hermann Zapf. It has the same visual aspect, the same subtle softness in the curves of the design while retaining clarity.

Though another avid type blogger found working drawings in the Monotype archives, the sorts were never actually ever made. It was given a name of Series 480.

Nothing else to say about this except that it's understated and quite gently poetic.

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Portland Government: On The Down-Low

1927.How much more bizarre can it get?

Messages on voice-mails? Waking up Nick Fish in the middle of the night?

Well, at least Sam's made his decision. At least he's done that.

You get back to work, Sam. Try and make something out of this mess. We Americans love a comeback story, a story of redemption. But, I'll tell you, this is making me nostalgic for Ivan C. The Terrible.

I never thought I'd be nostalgic for Ivan C. The Terrible.

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24 January 2009

Photobucket Sabotage?

1926.Did this happen to anyone else?

Photobucket hosts some of the content I use as illustrations here. Eariler today, I noticed a problem  with my header image ... it wasn't loading. So I tried going to the album in PB that hosts it and found that Firefox was being redirected.

Not anything else. Tried Opera and Safari. Just Firefox.

The redirection took me to a page that swore that my hard drive was infected and that it needed a cleaning, and a download sheet that I couldn't opt out of.

But after I cleared private data, it stopped. I of course reinstalled Firefox.

Not a problem since.

BTW, Crackers? Do I have your attention? Yes, most people have WindowsXP, but not everyone, you savvy? If you're going to have a fake virus scan display take over a web browser, we OS X users can tell a WinXP interface when we see it. At least make the effort to make the infterface experience look all OS X-y, okay?

Not only did your hack not work on me, it makes you look like you're phoning it in.

C'mon, you dips ... a little artistry, yes?

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23 January 2009

The Case For And Against Mayor Sam Adams: It's About Trust

1925.It's been a busy day down at City Hall.

Inside, the Portland City Council tries to take care of the business of the people, which will not wait. Outside, the people petition for a redress of grievances: Those against Sam, followed by those against. And, in typical Portland style: a little raucously, but one giving way to the other without much hassle.

And, for the second day in a row, the hardest place in Oregon to find a Sam Adams would be at Portland City Hall.

If there's been one encouraging thing in the last several days it's that (from this POV, at any rate) the scandal clouding the first month of the Adams administration has not really been about his sexual orientation or even the fact that, depending on who you talk to, Beau Breedlove was or wasn't street legal when he and Sam liaised back in 2007.

It's been about the trust that Sam shattered by hiding what he did, and that's what it should be about.

When the local media got on the trail of the relationship, Sam had a choice. He could have come clean and, in Portland's rather forgiving climate, had what some would call a spot of bother before moving on and becoming the very visible gay 51st Mayor of the USA's 30th largest city. Most likely, given the competition, he would have won anyway.

But he decided to hide it. As a certain person of wisdom has said, it takes just five seconds to tell the truth, but it takes the rest of your life to tell a a lie. And this lie, it can be argued, helped pave his way to the Mayorality. And, given the savvy for which Sam has been famous, it's hard to believe that he couldn't have known that, given the proper frame, he wouldn't have gotten a pass and, at least for the time being, not had to deal with it at all. The frame was provided, the lie was believed, and for his trouble, Bob Ball was knocked out of the Mayoral sweepstakes to boot.

Now, two years on and this cancer on the career of Sam Adams has metastasized. Sam's a survivior, though, and it would be foolish to count him out. He has done nothing that legally requires him to resign. Because of his cynical actions to cover up the Beau Breedlove affair, though, he finds that he's burned his bridges of trust with a lot of people who trusted him. He has breached the faith.

It's the trust that it comes down to. Trust is, indeed the coin of the realm.

Now, depending on how you feel about Sam, there are two main positions that we can see that it's reasonable to take (NB: The following thought experiments are in no way to be taken as necessarily characterizing anyone's views on the subject by my own. This issue is way too complex!)

1. It's reasonable to expect Sam Adams to resign.

The problem with Sam isn't the sex, and never has been. We don't base our view of him on whether or not he's gay, as a matter of fact, we voted for him because we're impressed with his intelligence, his energy, his determination. He saw his ultimate destination as the Mayor's office in the city he dearly loved.

We voted him in because he's a hard worker, a bright fellow, and, yes, maybe a little because he was gay, because we're Portlanders, and we have a progressive reputation, and that's just the way we roll, yo.

But when Sam revealed ... on the most important day this united republic has ever seen ... that he lied to avoid a scandal two years ago, we took it personally. This isn't some big official all the wa across the country who's been hardened and jaded by the centrifugal forces of national public service. This is Sam. Hell, some of us have met him, and he's as affable and genuine as they come.

But when the crap was about to hit the fan, he didn't level with us. He told a story we knew we would respond to to take the heat off him, and we helped him damage the reputation of someone who was telling the truth.

We were used as useful idiots.

Now, we aren't so naïve as to expect that everyone is Simon-pure. Yes, we all lie sometimes, sometimes to save our own skins. But we take that on ourselves in our personal lives. But when you lie at that level, you lie on behalf of all of us. You have a higher standard. If it was that bad, then maybe the thing to do was step down from your pursuit.

Why do you have a higher standard? Because trust is the most valuable thing we have in the public arena, and the most fragile. It falls apart at a touch, and once shattered, may never be regained. And, Sam, you atomized it, using the knowledge that we would defend you utterly, and in doing so, bruised what little faith we may have had in the Portland system.

We can't extend that trust twice, and maybe never again, and now we don't believe in you–we are embarrassed by you. And if you have a dram of integrity left in you, you know as well as we do what you must do next.

2. It's reasonable to expect Sam Adams to stay and fight.

We are as shocked and disappointed as anyone that Sam did what he did. Trust is hard to come by, and he really kicked it in the teeth here.

Do we wish that he'd not lied and came clean at the time? Damn straight we did, because that was the Sam we knew. What you saw was what you got.

But Sam's lied and he lied just when we need him the most. We worry that everyone's going to come down on him because he's a gay man who's being portrayed as someone in a power position taking advantage of a starry-eyed youth. And, of course, he's broken the bond of trust and goodwill he's built for twenty years with the citizens of our fair town.

And now people are calling for his head.

That's understandable. Confidences are the core of Sam's business. If you've breached the faith, what is there?

But we'd ask you to step back and take the larger picture in. Yes, Sam lied, but he himself has called this an anomaly. Based on our history with him, we tend to agree. Who hasn't been so terrified of his or her that they haven't done something dreadfully stupid.

After all, Sam may be Sam, and we may be fans. But Sam is human, as are we. And are we not a society who believes in second chances and redemption? We would want that chance for ourselves. We would be hypocrites if we didn't extend it to Sam as well. Moreover, there's no way for Sam to make up for whatever damage he caused if we simply cut him off at the knees.

Sam shouldn't resign. He should work to repair the damaged trust he's caused–which is a big job, and no mistake, but it's something he can do. He's tough, he's smart, and he has a history of hard, hard work. Because, more than anything else, Sam's the kind of bright, energetic leader we need now, and it would be a damned shame that he should have to resign after an affair that, while embarrassing, has no bearing on his ability to be our Mayor.

So, the way I see it, as far as the scandal goes, we have a choice we have to make for ourselves. Has Sam utterly ruined our faith in him in everything?

Do we still trust him? Do we see this episode as an anomaly, or do we think that this is more than just a blemish on his character?

Steve Duin had an intriguing take on it; that Sam should fight it out in public and campaign again for his spot.

But how do you feel about it? I think it comes down to trust. Can you? Do you think that Sam can govern effectively? Do  you believe in good-old, American-style redemption?

Do you think Sam deserves a second chance?

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm still trying to work that out.

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Obama Replaces Bush On San Fran Street Blades ...

1924.Followed this one when a commenter at radar.oreilly.com linked my commentary on the 1991 Igor Vamos "Malcolm X Street" agitprank here.

They're having fun down in San Francisco. Here's a "before":

And, naturlich, after:

Follow this link to read the whole story (as well as the blog I nicked the illos from), and this link takes you to a San Francisco Examiner story about it.

All credit apparently to the Survival Research Laboratories.

And one post about zeitgeist AND street blades! Nifty!

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22 January 2009

Is Sam Adams Set to Resign?

1923.Just heard on KPOJ: A news report where Steve Duin related a despairing Mayor Adams, and guesses that he may be on the verge of resignation.

Am I mad at Sam for lying? You bet.

Am I torn about him possibly resigning? You bet.

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21 January 2009

One More Bit About The Inaguruation ... A Promise Fulfilled In Photoshop

1922.Shamelessly stolen from this entry at the mighty Democratic Underground:

See what Photoshop can do for you? And it wasn't very difficult either, I'll bet.

I thought it was cosmically nifty that Inauguration Day came the day after MLK Day.

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Obsessive Branding Disorder–A Zeitgeist Affliction

1921.Look! A post having to do with branding or marketing or design! If you want to follow my public-personal journal of the Sam Adams Electrolux Imbroglio, follow this entry here. I'll tack new stuff on the end.

In the course of marketing and design, the concept of Brand stands large as the holy grail toward which many work.

Branding involves more than just coming up with a brilliant logo. Branding addresses every tangible and intangible about whatever it is you're promoting ... be it the experience, the ingredients, the physical presence, how it relates to your perceived audience ... and attempts to distill it into a high, marketable concept.

But what happens when that all careers (NB: "careen" is usually used here. That word, like "decimate" is typically used wrong) out of control? Sure, just about everyone turns a jaundiced eye toward product placement anymore. But the quest to have a strong brand has gone so out of control that marketers, like Burger King, first tell us that they've found people who have never had a Whopper before; then they prank themselves that they've discontinued the Whopper just to vid the reactions of upset customers. What do do after that?

Two words for you: The Burger. From the OBD blog:

The Whopper has been whooped! After recent gags in which customers were told the Whopper was discontinued, now comes news that the King’s flagship sandwich is again the butt of the joke. Only available in the UK, the $200 boutique burger - roughly 100 times the cost of a regular burger - features Wagyu beef (AKA Kobe beef), white truffles, Modena balsamic vinegar, “onion tempura prepared in Cristal champagne” and “Italy's finest Pata Negra prosciutto.” Oh, right, and pink Himalayan rock salt (naturally). And what do they wind up calling this culinary delight? “The Burger.”

The quest for a strong brand has gone beyond a quest; it's ascended through addiction into obsession.

Lucas Conley has produced a book that looks like it will be provocative, Obsessive Branding Disorder: The Illusion of Business and the Business of Illusion, which appears to be all about our modern obsession of style over substance:

With hundreds of new products arriving on retail shelves every day, and the rise of cheaper foreign brands and the house brands of mega-stores like Target and Wal-Mart, American companies are increasingly resorting to image overhauls to attract customers in lieu of improvements to product quality or functionality. Identity, in a sea of nearly indistinguishable items, is more important than ever before. Yet while innovative packaging commands attention, it often does so at considerable cost to the businesses and consumers responsible for fueling an industry of shape-shifting.

Looks interesting. Don't have the book yet, but here's the blog. Recommended.

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20 January 2009

Have A Nice Inauguration (Updated)

1920.Well, pretty much the best day in America ever is starting.

Time to hit the live feeds and the television. You guys know where they are.

Obama's been Presidentin' pretty fantastically up until now. It'll just get better now that he really is the President.

America, welcome back to the world.

Update 1022 PST Wow, yeah? Wow. The President can deliver a speech like nobody else I've ever heard. I am not often inspired by a speaker. This man knows how to crystallize hope into words.

And Rick Warren? That a man so renowned for motivating and organizing people could come off as so banal just leaves me speechless.

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19 January 2009

Enjoy Your One Term As Mayor, Sam. (Updated x6)

1919.(NB: updated at 0315 with some stylistic polishing and current events)

A Portland political moment, if you please.

When cynicism like this rears its head time and time again, you can see why people want to check out (via):

Until today I have not discussed the true nature of the relationship with anyone. Not my friends, family, staff or colleagues on the council. I have apologized to Beau Breedlove for asking him to lie for me. I want to apologize to my colleagues for my dishonesty and especially to the people of Portland for my dishonesty. I should have been truthful from the beginning.

Sure. Well, it is always easier to ask forgiveness than permission, isn't it?

We can argue about whether Sam's policies for the City are crap or not until the cows come home to roost, but we can't argue about how bad that looks.

I could be wrong. I've tried a little political blogging; even though I know very well inside me what I care but sometimes, though I read long and think as deeply as my mediocre mind will let me, sometimes I have astoundingly little depth.

I was proud to have voted for Sam; I was proud to have helped put someone who looked progressive in the Mayoral seat; I was kind of smug about being part of a city that had the courage to elect a mayor who is openly gay, because he looked like someone who could do the job (of course, it was hard to lose, running against Sho ... who may have been a wonderful guy but clearly wasn't ready and had a campaign that showed it) and we spent little or no time discussing that he in fact was teh gay.

Now? Why did I ever bother? Why should anyone? Maybe the ones who checked out of the process had a point ... That's what I thought when I first heard it, a quickly-delivered one-line news item at a radio news-break. But my political self will get over it; I'm still, for all the naïvete inherent, the sort that believes that for every politician who lied in order to save his career there's one who hasn't completely sold his soul out.

I, for what its worth, as a citizen of Portland and someone who voted for you, accept your apology. That doesn't repair my damaged trust, but I do accept your apology.

I cryed a lot and died a lot inside today.

Enjoy your term as Mayor, Sam. You've earned it, sure enough.

Hell of a way to spend Inauguration Eve.

Update 1–0315, 20 Jan 08: There's a big discussion on at Bogdanski's Place, a good deal of it predictable, with some surprises, including one person who's not only calling for a Sam Adams recall ... he's even created a yahoo.com email contact address for it.

Update 2–0317, 20 Jan 08: Based on Google image hits to the baseball card image alone I already have more than three times the number of hits on this blog than I usually have at this time of day. This story's getting big interest.

Update 3–0043, 21 Jan 08: I'm still wishing you a fruitful single-term as Portland's Mayor, but if these guys get their way, you won't even have that. Oh, they can't do anything for six months, but after that ... they'll come gunning for you. And six months is plenty of time to plow the ground.

Update 4–1048, 21 Jan 08: I guess we could have seen this one coming: Turns out that Sam was lying about being Breedlove's mentor too, saith The Big O:

Adams also admitted that he never had a true mentoring relationship with the young man. Breedlove asked Adams for advice on being gay in the political arena, but Adams now says that was originally a pretext for meeting.

"There was no proposition, but I felt there was some interest," Adams said of their initial meetings. "Part of the lie was to play up the mentoring."

The issue of Adams' relationship with Breedlove first arose publicly in fall 2007 when Adams and City Commissioner Randy Leonard accused another potential mayoral candidate of spreading rumors that Adams had sex with a minor, a crime under Oregon law. At the time, Adams angrily denied that he and Breedlove were ever anything more than mentor and protege.

On Monday, Adams admitted that he and Breedlove had sex several times in the summer of 2005 -- a few weeks after Breedlove reached the age of legal consent. Adams said he lied about the relationship and asked Breedlove to lie because he didn't think voters would believe they waited until after the young man's birthday to become intimate.

And it just gets better and better. Also reported by The Big O today was this:

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger will lead an investigation into the conduct of Portland Mayor Sam Adams who has admitted he had a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old he met in 2005.Kroger agreed to conduct the inquiry after being asked to do so by Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer and Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk, The Oregonian learned this morning. Details about the inquiry -- specifically what Kroger will look into -- were not immediately available.

Sam was saying how he was not going to resign. Maybe he should reconsider that, since now TBO is calling for the Mayor to resign (as is the PTrib, in case anyone's still reading it)

Update 5–1107, 21 Jan 08: Before this one slips away, we have to mention something that's leaving people wondering if whatever happens to a Portland City Commissioner is introduced in the A/C at City Hall or that pure, sweet Bull Run water. As reported by the WW, Amanda Fritz To City: Problem? We Don't See Any Problem:

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz says she has no idea why WW felt compelled yesterday to publish this story about Mayor Sam Adams confessing to telling a lie about his sexual relationship with 18-year-old Beau Breedlove.

Fritz got up at Adams' press conference this afternoon (more on his comments in a bit) to raise questions about WW's timing with our publication of the piece on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the day before Barack Obama was inaugurated.

"I cannot think of a compelling public purpose" for publishing this story yesterday, Fritz said.

Quite frankly we wonder about the timing of that too. But no compelling purpose? There was a compelling purpose in revealing the story back when it was still fresh. As the 70s philosophress Stevie Nicks once opined, "A wound gets worse when it's treated with neglect". And eventually the wound has to be treated. If not now, when, we ask?

Update 6–1120, 21 Jan 08: We can also not sally forth with this without referencing what's becoming The Strange Case Of Amy Ruiz. We are fans of the Portland Mercury, and ardent followers of the "Hall Monitor" column, where the PMerc's City Hall reporter shared news and notes about the Student Council Portland City Commission's weekly doings. She took over the column about a year (or maybe a little more) back after Scott Davis left the paper to go work down in Snailem for the governor.

Up until earlier last year, Amy was chasing down the story of Sam Adams and Beau Breedlove. And then she hit a dead end. And then she got hired onto Sam's staff as a Sustainable Development Policy Advisor at $55,000 a year (which, we understand, is about 1/3 again more than what she made as a PMerc reporter). There has been considerable chatter over the perception of Amy being hired over people who may have been more qualified (PMerc's Blogtown blog has germane postings here, here, and here which you should really really read), and right now, Amy's kind of starting to look all collateral-damage-y.

Downside? We haven't seen the "Hall Monitor" column lately. It was pretty good.

ALSO: Our favorite expat Brit who won't shut his bleeding gob has sequenced all the PMerc's coverage in his blog here.

Update 7–1407, 21 Jan 08: Now, Portland's signature gay publication Just Out has called for the Mayor's resig, and nails it absolutely:

Adams’ apology of yesterday, including specific reference to the gay
community, while sincere, is not enough. The bond of trust and
confidence has been broken. Adams has previously stated his hope that
gay and lesbian youth might one day look to him as a role model and
example. His own actions have now rendered this implausible.

Adams must resign his seat as Portland’s mayor.

Read all about it here.

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16 January 2009

What Kind Of Greater Olympia Resident Gets An Obit in A Scottish Paper?

1917.Why, David Hunter of Montlaw, that's who. When he was alive, he was cooler than most.

Remember how I called him "The Baron Who Does Everything More Beatifully Than You"? Bless him, but he even succumbs classier than anyone I know.

Every word in that obituary is on target, by the way. He was that affable, that smart, and that funny. He was wise.

How I will miss that guy.

See this also. Note that they quoted me at the end of the article without attribution (and it's an honor. I have no problem with that ... almost like he's nodding my way in the hereafter).

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15 January 2009

What Not To Do In Photoshop

1916.(H/T Cultivated by Design, where Sera Strawbridge has a delightfully trenchant remark about it) Top 10 lists in January get rather dull and silly and dreary, but this is an exception to that.

Despite my relatively brief experience in graphic design, I did get training and a degree. You only know graphic design after serious study, and you know you know graphic design when you realize how little you do know about it.

This article at Design Cubicle goes through 12 things that qualify as Photoshop "malpractice", that is, things that are far enough away from PS best practices that they have to make a toll call to talk to them. Here's the article itself, but I just couldn't stop from adding my own views:

  1. Improper extraction methods Do you use Magic Wand? A Lot? Wise up, newbie; not even Donnie Hoyle respects you. Learn the Pen tool. The pen tool makes for such precise and tunable selections, once you learn it you'll wonder what the 7734 you were doing with Magic Wand (which might be okay in a pinch). Actually there are so many ways to select in PS that once you use a few, you might find yourself completely leaving the Magic Wand too behind.
  2. Setting Body Copy Photoshop now has such advanced text and paragraph styling features that you can almost do layout in it. DON'T! Remember, PS is a raster program. Raster files lose stuff when you scale down and look like 7734 when you scale up. Just. Say. No.
  3. Using Rainbow Gradients Lisa Frank designs with rainbow gradients. Her primary market is tweenie girls. Unless your primary market is also tweenie girls. Don't do this. Eyes all over the visual world will thank you.
  4. Assuming K=100 Is Black This is actually an easy beginner mistake to make. For those habitués of this chronicle who have never prepared a file for print, color printing is made of four inks: cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K) ... the abreviation K is a convention for black. So, naturally, you'll assume that of you go (the numbers here are percentages) C=0, Y=0, M=0, K=100, you'll get black. As it turns out, it's a very, very dark gray. The solution to this? Use "rich" black, which is full-on black ink with a mix of the other colors in. Very dark. Very black.
  5. Overusing and abusing filters Hey, who hasn't? Even I do it when I want to play around. The trouble with filters is they are default behaviors, and that leads to laziness and not learning the ins and outs of a very amazing program.
  6. Create logos in Photoshop If it's all you've got, then you'll have to use it, but if you have access to a vector drawing program, unless the needs are very unusual, you will use your vector drawing program to create logos. Why? One word: Scale. Logos are used in a variety of ways and sizes, and if you scale up a raster logo, you see the pixels. If you scale down the raster logo, things fill in. This is a much smaller and more controllable program with a vector shape, where the bounds are mathematically maintained, redrawn after scaling, and no loss of resolution.
  7. Don't Use 72dpi for Print. Ever. DPI is, of course, dots-per-inch. Its electronic cousin is PPI, or Pixels Per Inch. Everything you see on the web is either 72 or 96 dpi, which is right up the street of most all monitors, but in print? Does not scale up. Looks horrible when you do. Unless you're going for an effect, expect to use 300 dpi for the basic, and ask your print service bureau what will be best for the individual application (on the Columbia Overlook, for example, my provider has said that 150 dpi will be fine. I send them 170-190.
  8. Not Learning Keyboard Shortcuts To the tyro, those are those interesting little lists of cryptic "F6"s, etc that are on the right side of every pulldown. It's all about workflow when you're under the gun, and while the beginner might not immediately see the savings in efficency by using QuarkXPress's "SHIFT-OPT-CMD < or >" over going to the contextual pulldown and choosing a point size, once you get used to using it you know it saves you a stop. And a step saved here and a step saved there adds up, and before you know it, you're concentrating on your design, rather than where that damn bar of soap is.
  9. Not Using Layers and Folders If the newbie doesn't understand the simple sense of using layers and folders to organzie your content, that newbie should give back thier copy of Photoshop and go back to using MS Paint, because if you're not using layers and folders, then you're just using a turbocharged version of MS Paint, and you do not deserve the grandeur that is PS.
  10. Desaturation to get Black and White Graphics Desaturation (simply removing the color component of the image to get the black and white values) leaves graphics looking kind of wan. Refer to 4 above: The difference between just-black and rich black is striking. This is the same sort of thing.
  11. Overuse of Bevelling, Embossing and Drop Shadows These are fun toys. They are so much fun, as a matter of fact, that newbies use it everywhere, and that's what makes you a newbie, newbie. Get a grip on this. Look at your overall design and think whether or not these effects are appropriate within the totality of your work. If the effect causes the element to rip attention away from other things and you didn't mean that, then ashcan it. Don't use it as a crutch to make your design more interesting. A little of this goes a suprisingly long way.
  12. Not Using Grids and Guides Sometimes I'm guilty of this. When you're "in the zone" you don't want to bother with breaking out to the side and grabbing something. Well, bunky, get over that. Not only are PS grids and guides fantastic for things that require alignment, you can turn them off if they're too distracting. Use 'em.

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Number 6 Finally Escaped

1915.Out of The Village and this mortal coil.

Patrick McGoohan, age 80
b. 19 Mar 1928, Queens, New York
d. 13 Jan 2008, Los Angeles California

Read all about it.

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14 January 2009

Expressive Logos With A Certain Attitude-Color and Type

1914.There are two logos I found today that just leapt out at me, and I'd like to share them.

The first one I found on this blog here, and is the logo of ... well, you can read it:

You'd think that 'distressed type' has been used to death, and you'd be right, but for examples like this. The X is an interesting shape and since it's a very infrequently-used letter in written communication, it's a good letterform to try some play with.

It's actually quite easy to create distressed type in Photoshop if you don't actually have any, and I'll create a how-to on that presently.

The other is sweet and punchy, from Erin Weed, a personal safety and self-defense expert who is behind Girls Fight Back!, an advocacy and educational activity for young women:

Clever, witty play on the name (the tagline incredibly apropos: may all your weeds be wildflowers–remember, in many cases, a weed is a wildflower you just don't want in your garden) and a light-yet-bold approach that uses cheerful, warm colors to communicate a certain dynamic attitude.

I just enjoyed these logos. I hope everybody does. They're really well done!

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Yamhill County Transportation Area: A Logo Expressing Service

1913.Yamhill County (a place whose name has nothing to do with either yams or hills) is a charming place; small towns, wide agricultural spaces, the legendary bottleneck/speed trap at Dundee, and capital of the State of Pinot Noir.

But it's growing up. Population estimates put the number of inhabitants near 100,000; the county seat, McMinnville, has recently notched a population of 30,000.

Yamhill County, though, no matter where you go in it (it fairly sprawls for a small county; from the Grande Ronde area of the Coast Range to the right bank of the Willamette) seems one community. So it stands to reason that the most effective way to serve it in many ways is on the country level, and it's that level from which the transit system has sprung.

You might be surprised to learn that Yamhill County has fixed-route regular daily city bus service. Actually, it's had it for a while, courtesy of Yamhill Community Action Partnership and senior service organizations, first as Dial-a-Ride service, then as minimal fixed-route service (anyone with knowledge is welcome to correct me on this; I'm working on recollection here). But latterly it's expanded to three regular routes in McMinnville proper, with link routes connecting the outlying communities to not only McMinnville but also to TriMet and Salem's Cherriots. The city service in McMinnville is Monday-Friday on the half-hour from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm, which is no mean feat for a small town like "Mac". Newberg is served by what is called the "Town Flyer" route which connects to the 99W Link route.

Anyway, this is about the graphic look, and with the growing up of the transit service In Yamhill County comes a more polished, accomplished graphical appearance. And they have it.

The logo of the Yamhill County Transportation Area (YCTA) is deft in execution and meaning. The letter Y is incorprated into a symbol that appears to be highways merging, in an ever-appropriate green, but the totality of the symbol expresses a hand supporting a tray, in the manner of a butler or waiter/waitress.

How may we be of service to you, Yamhill County? A very effective use of symbolism, a deft execution.

The understated-yet-effective look continues into signage and tickets/passes (as pictured)

Whoever created the look knew what they were doing, had a firm grasp of the message they were trying to communicate, and knew their audience: a rural county where everyone's your neighbor. They keep it friendly and approachable.

(graphics nicked from the YCTA website, which is a well-designed bit of work. I encourage a visit; you can find it here: http://yctransitarea.org).

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We Think We Know Why Johnny Can't Concentrate In School

1913.There's been a big debate in the media and amongst John Q. Public about why kids have so much ADD these days and have such trouble focussing and studying in school.

I'll admit that I'm no expert, but I think I've found at least one piece of the puzzle. From a McDonald's direct mailing circular, this bit of marketing genius not only leapt out at us, it put its hands around our necks and pinned us to the ground until we tapped out:

Yep. You read it right: Get a free espresso with the purchase of any Happy Meal® or Mighty Kids Meal® purchase.

Just the thing little Jimmy/Janie/Akeem/Sanjay/whoever needs before breaking the back of 2+2=4; a nice healthy hit of caffeine. Mighty Kids Meal? More like Mighty Jittery Kids Meal. And the Happy Meal will be just that much brighter with a hit of hi-test.

And all the time I was but a neat thing, all the adults told me it would stunt my growth. Whatever that was supposed to mean.

Memo to McDonald's: It's called juxtaposition. Gott in Himmel, look into that, will you?

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New and Improved Portland Downtown Street Mnemonics: Now Three To Choose From!

1912.Some time ago, I wrote about the need that Portland has for some sort of mnemonic device for keeping the downtown streets straight. In this entry I published a rather brilliant solution by a commenter identifying himself as JD. I thought he hit it out of the park (and still do), but a commenter over on my Wordpress mirror of this blog has proven that there is, indeed, more than one way to skin a cat.

There, in this entry, commenter Dave DiNucci points out the following cogent fact:

That mnemonic may help you to remember the first letter of the streets in order, but even if you're familiar with the street names, it doesn't tell you whether (say) Morrison is N or S of Madison, whether Clay is N or S of Columbia, etc.

Quite true. JD's mnemonic is designed around an initial string of letters which reflect the order of the streets from north (at Burnside) to south (at Jackson). To review, it looked like this:


Where the initials stand for, in this order:

Ankeny, Ash, Pine, Oak, Stark, Washington, Alder, Morrison, Yamhill, Taylor, Salmon, Main, Madison, Jefferson, Columbia, Clay, Market, Mill, Montgomery, Harrison, Hall, College, Jackson.

Finding words to match the first letter gave this:

All Across Portland Our Streets Wind Around Mossy Yards. Traffic Snarls May Mean Jammed Cars, Cranky Motorists Making Minimal Headway. Harried Commuters Just Love Going Slow.

Which is, I think, rather charming, and for those with more than basic geographical awareness, will fit the bill quite well. But Dave's solution drills down a little deeper, addressing the aforementioned problem (which, it just occurred to me, New York Alkaseltzer's famous "Kurt Cobain Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest" shares: Do you, without consulting a map know offhand if University is north or south of Union? Me, neither) by including enough letters in each streets name to clear up the ambiguity:

AN.keny, AS.h, P.ine, O.ak, ST.ark, W.ashington, AL.der, MOR.rison, Y.amhill, T.aylor, SA.lmon, MAI.n, MAD.ison, JE.fferson, COLU.mbia, CL.ay, MAR.ket, MI.ll, MON.tgomery, HAR.rison, HAL.l, COLL.ege, JA.ckson, L.incoln, G.rant, and SH.erman

Nifty! But he's set himself out a hard row to hoe, as he himself admitted in the comment:

Inventing a paragraph with words starting the same way is a challenge.  How many "good" words start with "JE"?  With "COLU"?  Not many.  And in a row?

We couldn't have said it better. But Dave did it, twice. Here's what he came up with. I'll let his words speak for him.

Attempt 1:  This one plays off the way the streets N of Burnside are named alphabetically for Portland's founders, and those S of Burnside are more traditional names you'd find elsewhere, and in no particular order, with the N and S joining at an angle.

"ANcestors ASsociated Portland Oregon STreets With ALphabetic MORtals, Yet Toward SAlem, MAInly MADe JEjune, COLUmnar, CLiche MARked MIxtures. MONotones HARmonize HALfway, COLLiding JAuntily.  Lines Gently SHim.

(Editor's Note: Anyone how knows enough to work jejune into the same sentence with Salem is aces in my book. Anyhow ... )

Attempt 2:  This one might be easier to remember and more poetic, even if not quite so close to home. Referring to the gorge rather than downtown allows the use of "Columbia" (it's real name!) for the "COLU" street... not to mention, "JAcob's Ladders" for JAckson and Lincoln.

"AN AScending Path Of STone
Wends ALong MORning Yellow Trilliums.
SAnity MAIntenance.
MADe JEalous,
COLUmbia CLeaves MARvelous MIsty MONuments,
HARsh HALcyon COLLages.
JAcob's Ladders Gorge-ously SHine."

(Workable options include "SAge MAIden MADe JEalous," for the third and fourth lines, "HARshly HALoed COLLages" for the 5th, and "...Gently SHimmer" ending the 6th.)

I've never met Dave DiNucci in person, but I've just got to say ... this guy is wicked clever.

So there you have it my people: Three ways you can keep straight which street comes after which street in downtown Portland, tailored to your individual taste. I like them all: JD's for its simplcity, and Dave DiNucci's for the whimsy and smartness involved.

With the brain inherent in your average Portland blogger/blog reader, you just can't lose.

Thanks, Dave!

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13 January 2009

Photos From Portland's Left Bank

1911.Scenes from a very long walk down the Eastbank Esplanade on a winter evening. There's some good stuff here ... I think it would be definitely worth inclusion in a calendar.

The only problem was, I didn't bring my tripod, and the camera, the ViviCam 3705 a/k/a the Plastic Fantastic, isn't all that sophisticated (it was when we got it, but the world has moved on). However, a little jiggle produces a very romantic blur:

And of course the streaks of light from moving cars and such are an artistic bonus.

There are some times that a jiggling camera produce these wonderful emotionally-moving alternate worlds:

Notice the dotted line of the flashing bike-light there? Like I said, a bonus.

The sun kept going down, and the night-time beauty just kept coming out:

Aren't the reflections on the river rather romantic?

And now, the Steel Bridge again:

And the Burnside Bridge:

And the Morrison, with the beautiful indigo lights courtesty the Willamette Light Brigade (I have their 2009 calendar in the studio this year):

And one with a focus on the downtown skyline, too:

I wonder what I could do with a much newer camera. My friends have such cameras. One word: covet.

But I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing here. Just want a better camera!

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Viaduct? Vhy Not A Tunnel?

1910.Meanwhile, in New York Alka-Seltzer, the shouting is over, and the preferred replacement to the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be a deep-bore tunnel, saith the Seattle P-I.

Going down!

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12 January 2009

In The Year 2525 ...

1909.A little pictorial satire, set to the "tune" of the famous Zager & Evans song from 1969. Please note, this post has extra added exordium and terminus for your viewing pleasure.

Klicken Sie hier to view it bigly.

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11 January 2009

Using ScribeFire: An Official Unofficial Review

1908.(I don't know where the 7 missing posts are, and am uninclined to look for them now) For the last month or so, in my endless quest for a more blogger-friendly way of making my posts happen, I have been using ScribeFire, which is a plugin for Firefox.

I must say, I'm most pleased with it so far, and am continuing.

Originally, like many Blogspot bloggers, I used the Blogger interface and it was acceptable. But one day, before I was redirecting my RSS feed to Feedburner, I happened upon Adobe Contribute CS3, which for a long time hit it out of the park ... not only does it allow you to compose and save entries offline for polishing when necessary (all my discourses happen perfectly alla prima, so that's not a worry with me so much) but has a grand WYSIWYG interface. What more could you want?

I had to reluctantly give up on Contribute though. Once you redirect your RSS feed, Contribute won't edit entries any more. And when you do un-redirect, it changes the post time to something strange and random.

After that it was Qumana, and I was satisfied with that for quite some time, though version 3.0.0 still doesn't work in OS X 10.4.11. I queried the developer and they spotted me a beta of the next incremental version, which was nifty, but it didn't implement Blogger categories, and since I'm lazy, a lot of entries went unfiled thereon. Further queries to the Qumana help have gone unanswered.

Knowing there were plugins available for Firefox, I finally gave in to the urge to find them and try them. ScribeFire seemed the most highly reccommended, and I tried it at first. At the beginning of the learning curve, I wasn't that impressed, but as I've used it and learned its ways and means, I've become very impressed indeed.

The one thing that has caused me to love SF is my own Holy grail: it allows me to manage Blogger categories and Technorati tags from it with an intutitive interface. Now no post I make should go untagged or unfiled, unless I'm having a really, really, really lazy day.

I can also now, finally, upload illustrations through the plug in. No longer do I have to upload to Photobucket and link (unless I want you to see it bigly). I love anything that saves me a step (new users will note that if you're not FTP-hosting your blog, you'll be using the "API" button on the upload dialog sheet, as it uses the Blogger API to embed the illo).

Text styling is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, although you have to do this with a mouse click (if there's a way to force the keyboard to be recognized for this, I've not yet found it). It's all in a very word-processory interface, so you already at least know how to use that part (scaling up/down the text is found in an unexpected place, but that's a minor flaw, if one considers it a flaw). Any entry in process can be saved as a note. It also has advertising and monetizing features, if that's where your proclivities lie.

In all, I'd recommend any frequent blogger who uses Firefox to at least give it a try. After you get into the plug in you'll see how it can make your blogging a bit more efficient and powerful, which I think is what we all want.

Either look it up in the plug-in finder via Firefox's interface, or go to http://scribefire.com.

Either way, I think you'll be happy. I'll be using this for a while.

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RATP: Paris' Romantic Transit Logo

1900.Can a logo be romantic? Can a transit company logo have romantic aspirations? If you are the RATP of greater Paris, France, I think it can.

Transit companies, which tend to bind communities on basic level, strive for a sort of meta-identification. Our own TriMet is a good example. The current logo, which appears to be three crescents nestling together in a graphic menae-a-trois, neatly references the name (which itself is a token representing a much larger name) and the concept of serving three connected polities.

Which crescent you think represents your metropolitan Portland county is an exercise left, of course, to the reader.

Now, if I can take us off on a tangent, Paris is an amazingly small piece of land for the amount of economic, strategic, and cultural influence it has. The area the French capital covers within its corporate boundaries is only about 34 square miles, or a tiny bit smaller than the area within the city limits of Salem; it would fit into Portland a little more than four times over, and eyeballing a map suggests that the city is barely over four miles wide at its widest point (the greater Paris "sprawl" covers more than 1,000 square miles, but around there, when we say a city's name, we mean within the city limits, not metro area, which a lot of people think. As long as we're digressing, it's real cozy within the Boulevard Peripherique: almost 2.2 million people live within those 34 square miles. Howdy, Neighbor! (or better, Allo, voisin!)).

I did mention the Boulevard Peripherique, which is the circular highway that follows the bounds of Paris, limiting it physically as well as jurisdictionally. That points us in the direction that I want to take us. Check out this simplified map of Paris, nicked from the site Parisnet.com:

Pay special attention to the Boulevard (the circular highway picked out in red and the sweep of the Seine River as it flows into, through and out.

Got it? Okay, let's get to the metro.

The Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, or RATP, which translates to "Autonomous Operator of Paris Transport", I'm told, is the transit operator for Greater Paris. Now, when you have a city that is renowned for its passion in arts, in history, in romance, and in ... well, passion, and is personified as female, how can you combine all this thought into a simple, memorable, and elegant mark?

Well, here's the RATP's logo. Let the reader judge:

Is it not nifty? The Boulevard Peripherique has been graphically simplified into a teal circle. The Seine traces a familiar route, but a few small kinks have been added, giving the result of a profile that seems decidedly feminine. The face looks up, seemingly in expectation and hope. The two forms combine to express the unique feminine personality of Paris, and the cool colors with a soft pastel hint evoke the artistic and emotional. And, despite the graphical changes, the general geographical layout of the city is still suggested.

I find it a deft combination of romance and apt and fashionable design.

You can't get any better than that, at least as far as goes with Paris.

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