31 July 2009

[type] Exploring TypeMyType – Intriguing DIY Font Resources

2180.Via Twitterer Bram Pitoyo, I've stumbled on a site that looks like a typographers site for typographers, but if you're interested in font design, it's got a little something for everyone.

It's called TypeMyType.

Truth be told, I'm still in the middle of exploring it. It has an awful lot, but until you get to know it, you may find it a little inscrutable, but the layout is enjoyable and it's put type up as the star of the presentation, which is good and wonderful.

Some of the highpoints include a free, rather intuitively-interaced type design program that can save your work as a simple OTF file (with very little font metrics) or the so-called UFO format – the Unified Font Object format, which is supposed to be a cross-platform, cross-platform, human-readable format. This is a standalone Mac application, and it's called Font Constructor. The intuitive feature comes, as opposed to regular font creators which expect that you'll understand bearings and font metrics and such, you create bits and pieces of your fonts as building blocks which can then be drug-n-dropped into the glyph window. You can also, it's claimed, copy and paste wholesale from FontLab (I've not tried that yet). This is similar to FontStruct (an online editor of which I'm a fan) but Font Constructor uses Beziers and paths.

Another extremely intriguing thing found on the site is TypeCast. TypeCast claims to be two things; one, an online versioning system that supports a UFO workflow, and a light online UFO path editor. It seems to be under development; while the author (Frederik Berlaen) claims you can upload from FontLab directly into TypeCast, there are no obvious instructions on how to do so. Judging by the video on the site, some scripting in FontLab seems to be involved. I'm in the process of researching this now. The online editing does work like a song, though; choose the glyph and the item appears, big, bold and butch, with clearly visible Bezier handles all ready to go.

I suggest it's at least worth exploring to anyone who likes the idea of online type development.

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30 July 2009

[signs] No Alien Abductions Allowed Between 9PM and 6AM? Good To Know, Zendak

2179.Although it occurs to me than any ET with the chutzpah to actually abduct humans from earth probably don't bother too much with local Earth laws:

Original from here, a Russian web site about something
somehow, I don't know, I don't know any Russian.
via Twitterer http://twitter.com/mynameisorman

Although they might be sporting enough to just obey the local custom, just out of being sporting and being ET mensch and like that. I mean, just how's the constable supposed to cite the offender? That might be a bit outside our tech level.

So at least the locals can get some sleep at nights, but after 6AM – watch it, Charlie, 'cos here comes Zendak, and he's lonely!

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29 July 2009

[misc] Fotomat To Go Away Completely

2178.In the last missive, I mentioned Fotomat, the one-day photo finishing service that sprouted like blue-and-yellow weeds throughout America from the 1960s through the 1990s, when one-day photo service was equivalent to the speed of light, commercially.

While data on the ebb and flow of this former consumer photo giant is scanty at best, the trajectory is pretty easy to infer: As one-hour photo services became popular, Fotomat's one-day service became less and less popular, in the same way that traditional photo finishing of any type is being driven into extinction by digital photography and home-photo printers.

Fotomat didn't entirely go away, though, they relocated to the Web, offering Kodak-brand photo finishing and photosharing with a toolbar assist. But, as it's turning out, with services like Flickr and Picasa, even that model isn't working anymore. So Fotomat is, at last, going away itself:

On September 1st, 2009, Fotomat will be closing its online Fotomat photo printing and sharing service and all current accounts will be closed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. All Photo orders placed prior to September 1st, 2009 will be honored. In the coming weeks, we will be sending out email updates about the closing of Fotomat.com to our Fotomat customers.

All Fotomat customers who maintain their photos locally on their PC through the "My Fotomat" feature with the Viewpoint or Fotomat toolbar will be able to continue to maintain their albums as before. However, all features that connect to Fotomat.com such as ordering and sharing photos will be discontinued.

We sincerely appreciate your patronage as a Fotomat member. We're recommending that all our Fotomat customers start transitioning their photo servicing needs to Kodak Gallery.

Sic transit gloria Fotomat. Another icon of the 20th Century dwindles away. It was a good run, Fotomat.

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[design] One-Hour Photo – The Early Days Of Adobe Photoshop

2178.In the beginning (the 1980s), there was Display, which was a neat program developed by Thomas Knoll to display (well, yeah) grayscale images on his Mac SE. His brother, John, who just so happened to be working at ILM at the time, encouraged him to make an editor out of it. And thus was begat ImagePro. After polishing it up and adding some plugins, they matured it into the first available version of the titan … Photoshop. And the icon looked like this:

The icon was inspired by these little things, which used to be in shopping center parking lots across the nation:

(Read more about Fotomats here (where I screen-clipped the illustration from) and here) Fotomats were at their peak around 1980, but dwindled as their one-day photo finishing service (a quantum leap for the 1960s-70s) proved unable to compete with one-hour photo finishing, as contrasted with today when any photo finishing services are seen as quaint – where they exist at all.

I find it amusing that the original authors of Photoshop used a Fotomat-style kiosk (which offered one-day service) with the sign 1HR (which Fotomats never did), but the icon gets the point of fast, powerful photo editing across – once you swapped the blue and the yellow between the roof and the building, of course.

The first Photoshop to carry the iconic eye logo an splash were Photoshop 1.0, released in 1990. Not sure when the last Fotomat kiosk closed. Fotomat still exists on the web (though not for much longer), and Photoshop fondly exists, in many versions, on the hard drives of designers everywhere.

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[misc] Jammin' Jenny's Famous 867-5309 Number – For The Price Of An eBay Bid I Can Always Turn To You

2177.Update, 1421 PDT: at the time of the original posting, I forgot to embed the link to the actual auction. It's here! And, checking in on this auction, I see it's now up to more than US $5,000! Get in on the ground floor, peoples, maybe!

In 1982, Tommy Tutone hit it big with the cut from Tommy Tutone 2 called "867-5309/Jenny". I only add this as preamble because there may be one, two, or three people on the planet, living as monks in a monastery or hermits on the moors, who've not heard of it.

In 1982, another thing happened: a nationwide wave of prank calls to people all over the USA who had the number 867-5309.

And also, in 1982, a third thing happened perforce: the use of the number 867-5309 was nixed in almost every area code. It lived on in a few places, and was primarily used from then on out to form the basis of publicity stunts and raise funds when needed.

Well, now, in 2009, one of these numbers have come up for bid – a Philly area number, 267-867-5309. It's up on eBay right now. Apparently you can't exactly sell a phone number – but you can set up a shell company with that phone number and auction that off. And that's what some enterprising fellow has done. Here's some documentary evidence:

At the time of retrieval, the current bid was US $2,050. Likely more now. The marketing copy on the auction says it's fetched as much as $350,000 in the past – who knows, now – more? Less?

If you want to bid, here's the link. As of this writing, about six days to go in the auction.

Good luck, bunky.

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[misc] Hell's Kitchen 2009 (Chef Ramsay, Not The PNW Heat Wave)

2176.Something we tried a few yaron back was to try and compete with commentary on a certain beloved reality series and we didn't fail miserably; we failed really really well. And I did enjoy blogging about it, but if nobody was going to come by and read it, why bother?

One thing we haven't given up on is enjoying it. It's one of the few bits of television that we bother about because we're fans of the man.

The show is, of course, FOX television's Hell's Kitchen, and the man is Chef Gordon Ramsay. We love watching him. He's like passion incarnate, and reminds us that even the ordinary life can be made extraordinary if you have passion for something.

I'm just saying, that if you don't watch reality TV, there's one you ought to see, and it's this one. And while I'm not doing the blogging recap thing, I will say this about that, because this season has started out strong.

We started out watching near the end of Season One. We got on board on Season Two, and have been fans ever since. It's now Season Six. If you've lived in a cave, it takes a group of people who apparently signed up for this madness of their own free will and winnows them down, one by one (occaisionally, more than one-by-one) until the most accomplished and the most impassioned of them win the ultimate prize – which is, in this case, a well-paid executive chef position. In years past, it was usually a position in a posh casino in either Las Vegas or (last series – there have been two this year) Atlantic City. This year, it'll be a posh ski-lodge in Whistler BC, Canada.

So far, this year, Hell's Kitchen has brought the drama and the unpredictability. It's fashionable to think that somehow these are more scripted than you think, but there have been moments of things that don't at all look rehearsed.

The first three episodes are past and there have been many casualties. One chef from the Blue (men's) team was kicked out before the first hour was over. At the end of the second hour, Joseph, a former Marine, apparently snapped under the pressure of some PTSD and was kicked off the show. Before that, however, Robert, a chef from Season Five who had to leave due to pericarditis, was actually invited back, which was truly a first for this show (in which everything is intoned as "for the first time ever", even if it isn't the first time ever).

When Joseph snapped at the end of episode two, it was truly legendary. We even saw security go on the set. This will go down as one of the great moments in this series.

If there's any one person who really represents the heart and soul of HK, though, it's Heather West. She was the winner of Season Two, and resonated with viewers very strongly – and continues to do so. She won our hearts over from the very first in Season Two Hell's Kitchen, when, at that early time, her leadership skills shown brightly. This blog still recieves many search hits with the search string of "Heather West" (yes, even including the word nude … this is the internet, yes?).

Imagine our pleasant surprise with the sous chef for the Red (women's) team this year turned out to be none other than our very own Heather, replacing last year's Gloria. She's gone from contestant on Hell's Kitchen to, apparently, just something less than a Ramsay protegé.

Season Six also featured a signature dish display that doubled as a team challenge, and already has two walking wounded on the Blues.

So, HK Season Six is proving to be full of twists, turns, and surprises, and is breaking its own mold. It's charged out of the gate for the first three episodes, and is starting off strong indeed. If you want good entertainment, this'll be it.

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28 July 2009

[funnay] Palin? Oh, Yes, Shatner Went There.

[branding] If You Have The Real Thing, You Don't Have To Keep Changing It

2174.You know how they say a classic is timeless? Check out this history of the Cola Wars:

Copyright Duncan Riley, originally posted
on (and hotlinked from) The Inquistr here

The original article (see the link in the caption) has little to say about the ebb and flow of the Cola Wars, leaving the reader to draw the conclusion. The one I draw is, classics are timeless and a company that is comfortable with its own well-done identity will probably know better than to mess with what's working.

Coke has also honed a more typographical look over the years that has also grown very strong.

As I look over my memory of the brand look changes with Pepsi, it's always seemed to desperately try to "keep up with the times". Every change has been described as keeping the look "fresh and young". This says a lot, I think. I've grown accustomed to the new, Sleeper-esque look of the Pepsi logo and type, but if I was in charge from branding, I would'nt have brought it too far forward from the 1973 version. Updated the type, maybe, but that's it.

(Disclaimer: I actually prefer the taste of Pepsi)

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[IP] The Associated Press Protects Something, Somehow

2173.This is apropos to anyone who thinks about design, blogs, or blogs about design, because in the end it goes back to copyright.

Copyright is something every blogger should think about, actually. In the days before something could be copied-and-pasted with just a few presses of buttons, only those who published were the one that had presses. These days, of course, everyone with a few hundred dollars, a netbook, and a net connection, can lift and republish whatever content they see fit. Even, most of the time (Flickr's "spaceballs" notwithstanding) it's a simple matter of dragging (or saving) a photo to your desktop and – bingo – you have an illustration.

Copyright is the device by which, in a perfect world, every content creator would be ensured a way to make money off the "sweat" of their creative brow, all the time, or at least be ensured of the credit. And I know few people who disagree with that idea. But a World Wide Web who is desperate for content is a gestalt entity that can be very greedy at times. Content is repurposed without the creators' content a great deal of the time. Even my own meagre talent has been 'borrowed' without permission from time to time.

On the up side, my strategy for responding to this has been to request credit from the people who borrow my work, and in the give-and-take environment of the Web, this has worked rather well. So far, every use of one of my banal photos has been credited, after I requested it.

I believe that you take a certain risk when simply posting your photos to a blog, which is a very easy place to 'pick' stuff away from, that someone will simply borrow what you've posted. I don't believe that when you do so, you allow that your work is available for giving away and you shouldn't expect be enabled to do something about it. That is to say, expect to see your stuff copied-and-pasted, but you can still put your foot down and say "credit me" or "pay me", you don't give away that right.

Which means that, as far as the Associated Press and I go, we are really on the same page (you'll excuse the dead-tree pun). But the thing about the AP's new DRM system, as this article notes, is that while they call it a "wrapper", it's not seeming to wrap much. I'm not quite sure here where the 'protection' comes from.

As an expert quoted in the referenced article states (and actually, with more clarity than my circumlocution):

You'll be forgiven if you find it difficult to square the reality of hNews with the AP's pronouncements about it. Ed Felten, the eminent Princeton computer security researcher, couldn't figure it out, either.

"It was hard to make sense of this, so I went looking for more information," he wrote on his blog. "AP posted a diagram of the system, which only adds to the confusion—your satisfaction with the diagram will be inversely proportional to your knowledge of the technology... hNews is a handy way of annotating news stories with information about the author, dateline, and so on. But it doesn't 'encapsulate' anything in a 'wrapper,' nor does it do much of anything to facilitate metering, monitoring, or paywalls."

My reading of the article is that this new system goes down to a sort of markup, HTML essentially, that embeds rights and tracking info into the article, which is fine – as far as HTML goes. But if there's really a phalanx of people repurposing AP content at will without so much as attribution, then it won't take too much gumption from such types to strip the HTML right out.

And if you're the type who doesn't do any more than strip a few quotes or a paragraph out, fair-use-style, and link back? Well, the AP says those aren't the droids they're looking for.

On a tangetial tack, I find it amusing that the AP is insisting on a DRM approach – even though even Apple has abandoned that idea. DRM doesn't seem to be the holy grail that big-money content creators have thought it would be.

What does it all go down to? Even in these DMCA days, it's good to have what might seem an old-fashioned approach to using other content. A good one would be:
  1. Remembering that Fair Use, the princple in United States law that allows you to quote, excerpt, and use excerpts from published works for your own blog articles, doesn't allow you to borrow wholesale. If you're using more than a few paragraphs, it might be time to look into asking permission.
  2. Just because it's easily grabbable on-line doesn't mean the creator put it on line for you to use at will. The Berne Convention, which the US subscribes to, implies copyright on all original content.
  3. If you want to be sure you have permission to use something, ask! You'll be pleasantly surprised how many content creators will allow you to use something if you only ask them (and credit them).
  4. Don't simply repurpose content and figure the creator will 'appreciate the exposure'. Payment and/or credit is much better. If I could make bank on the 'exposure' I've gotten so far, I could retire right this very real second. Exposure doesn't really seem to translate into fame and fortune.
  5. If you feel you must borrow content, get in the habit of crediting it as a matter of course. Whatever you do with it, link back to the creator.
As a relevant example, this article I wrote here a few days ago now features a panel from a recent Mother Goose and Grimm strip that I thought was topical and incredibly funny. It would have been grand to simply help myself to the image I wanted (computers make it easy as pi) but it seemed to me a better way (especially since I can just link to it anyway) would be to get permission. After a polite request in which I exactly specified exactly what my purpose was, permission was given – not only now do I have a great post with a great illo, but I can also caption the graphic with the phrase used with permission, which looks slick and professional.

Copyright is important, and too important not to think about. Especially since everyone is creating content, pretty much all the time.

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27 July 2009

[pdx] Why I Advocate Metric Measure In The USA

2172.Because if it's 99F outside, it's only 37C.

I'm feeling cooler already.

Another hot-weather survival note: If they tell you it's 102F in the shade, stay out of the shade!

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[writing] Ten Things You Can Do If You Love A Writer

2171.I'm a fan of the graphic arts, but I love type which means I love books.

Is a friend or loved one a writer? Here, via twitter and Eileen Flanagan are ten things you can do to support them. They're all realistic, thoughful, and deeply affectionate.


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[satire] The Onion's Short National Nightmare Is Over

2170.The Onion is now back to normal, displaying the banner of a "former subsidiary of Yu Wan Mei".

Good to know.

The material published during the paper's Great Leap Forward can still be viewed however:


This was one of the best design gags ever!

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25 July 2009

[type] Tracking Vs. Kerning, Redux

2169.Some time ago, I assayed the difference between tracking and kerning (which has everything to do with lettterspacing) in a blog posting here: http://zehnkatzen.blogspot.com/2006/08/type-kerning-vs-tracking.html. This last week, I got a thanks for putting up that post, in which the poster said he'd "sell his Twitter soul because it helped me in a pinch".

This makes me teh happy for more than just the kudo. Kerning and tracking are, for the typographer, two important things, similar but dissimilar, like two very hot twins (of the sex appropriate to you, the reader) that you want to know very much – they both seem very much alike but do some different special talent very well.

You know, like one writes and one draws.

I don't know what you all were thinking.

Anyway, to keep this fresh and to bring up what I'd consider a "best of", here's the text of that Tracking vs. Kerning article. Yeah, it's important. You'll see why.

Here we go:

I was recently priviledged to observe a discussion amongst typophiles over which was better to use–kerning or tracking. It's a fair question, I think, because it illustrates that the two are similar enough in concept (though strikingly different in application) to cause a certain "blurring of the lines" between the two.

Both of them are all about letter spacing. Typographers speak of something called 'text color', and what they mean by this is that, when you look at a page of type, there is a general impression of a tone of darkness (I'm going to assume dark type on a light page). The overall letterspacing will have a bearing on this: tight spacing will cause the color to darken, and loose spacing will cause the color to lighten up.

I can see I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, so let's provide some definitions for the non-typophile:

Kerning refers to altering the spacing between only two letterforms. While the exact derivation of the term is unclear (one reference I use says the term stems from a German word for corner, which I find a little suspect), the kern itself is the area one letterform 'intrudes' into another letterform's space with. As an example, if you consider the word "Tower", the letterspacing between the majuscule T and the minuscule o looks more comfortable if one actually 'scoots' the o just a bit below the top cross-stroke of the T.

On the other hand, tracking refers to letterspacing over a range of letters–from a single word to parts of a sentence to whole sentences and paragraphs and beyond; in fact, another term for it is range kerning. Desipte being similar in concept–it has to do with spacing between the letterforms–it is not the same. Tracking is typically use to apply a standard amount of letterspacing over that range, and is not used with respect to any two individual letterforms. Tracking is usually termed "loose", for more space between than default, or "tight", for less.

Without using any examples, what may become evident here is that one isn't better than the other–one is more appropriate than the other. There are situations where tracking is a more appropriate tool than kerning. I'll illustrate.

A Situation That Calls for Kerning

Kerning is most appropriate when you are letterspacing very large letterforms, such as headlines, or any large text.

The reason that letterspacing is important is that uneven letterspacing tends to arrest the eye. Break open your favorite word processor (or if you have MSWord, for instance, get familiar with it–while they can't do layout, they're amazingly advanced on typography, once one gets to know them) and take some word (like Tower) that has an initial majuscule like T that un unascended minuscule "wants" to kern toward. Now make it real big–72 point or bigger.

If you've not touched the kerning, the program used the font metrics to determine the spacing. And you'll instantly be aware–even if only sublminially–that there's too much air in general between the letterforms, and the spacing of the letterforms themselves seem rather uneven. A typographer laying this out as a headline would put thier I-beam between each pair that looks like it needs it and kern them out (increase the space) or kern them in (decrease the space).

Kerning is best used on large letters, where individual tweaking can even out the spacing in headlines. When the spacing between large letters feels equal, the eye concentrates on the letterforms, and doesn't get 'hung up' on the space between

A Situation Calling for Tracking

Since kerning is most useful when the letterforms are big, it follows that tracking, if adjusted at all, might be most aprpos for letters at body text sizes–say, 10, 12, 13 points.

Consider any regular paragraph of text type, and think about the look of the letterspacing. At that size, the difference between irregularly spaced letters becomes very small, essentially unnoticeable to the untrained eye–which is most of everyone. Kerning is just not that essential.

However, when the eye does take in this text, it takes it in as a field and any overall differences are registered much more readily.

Tracking, at least when I've used it in this wise, is a tool for copyfitting. One of the challenges of the layout artist is to 'shoehorn' edited text (that's what we have editors for) into what is, most often, a predefined space. Adjusting tracking (along with adjusting leading and space before/after) is a quick way to make overset text fit into a space that's a little small.

The catch here is that you can vary it by just a little, but not too much; the eye will notice and attention will be called to the change, arresting your eye in the same way that uneven kerning on headlines will.

The key to the trick is to adjust tracking over a big range–not one sentence or one word, but one or more paragraphs as appropriate. The bigger the range, the smaller the amount of tracking per letterform pair is required. When you spread the change out, you have to change it less, and the final result will blend in better with the rest of the page, and not call attention to itself. The final look will be more professional.

It's a balancing act for the layout artist, and usually comes down to trial and error, but for the enlightened layout artist, it's an entirely doable thing.

And Now, To Summarize

occurs between two letters only, and is best used when the type is really large, as in headlines and subheads, but not text type.

Tracking is letterspacing over a range, and is best used when you're adjusting the type color to blend in with the rest of the layout, or copyfitting overset text. As Frederic Goudy said, "A man who would letterspace lower case would steal sheep", which has always meant to me that if you're kerning minuscules, you have a whole lot of time to waste, and are probably involved in other unsavory practices...like using MS Publisher.

It's not which is better...it's which is more appropriate.

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[liff] Mother Goose And Grimm's Mike Peters Clearly Has Not Consulted Rod Hill

2168.If you saw today's Oregonian comics page, then you know that Goose and Grimm's artist, Mike Peters, has made PDX the … ahh, "butt" of a joke.

Copyright Mike Peters, used with Permission.
See the original at Grimmy.com (7/25/2009)

Oh, snap! I WISH maybe the sun wouldn't shine here this week. We've already had way too much of a good thing.

The joke has special piquancy given the fact that Rod Hill has emailed everyone on his list to warn us that the Greater Portland area is going to turn into an oven this next week.

What? You haven't gotten yourself on Rod's list? Do this thing, there.

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24 July 2009

[funnay] Looks Like Fish Time Might be Coming To an End Soon …

2167.As it turns out, the acquisition of The Onion by Yu Wan Mei Salvage Fishery and Polymer Injection Group might not be panning out as well as hoped:

Now, our most pressing concern is what to do with ream upon ream of useless newsprint, unfit even for lining the floors of a monkey cage.

Yet some dim light flickers still from a lamp fueled by the rancid oil of the midden cod: Our newly purchased, wholly unwanted newspaper is based in the United States, a nation that allows 15 percent “cellulose filler” to be added to any fish protein matrix used for frying—and frying is that very nation’s only method of fish cookery! Truly, for the agile business mind, fortune is a viscous, greasy medium, free to flow everywhere. With that in mind, take notice: the Onion newspaper is for sale.

Looked good on paper, I guess.

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23 July 2009

[liff in oregon] Good Lord, Man, Put On A Shirt, Willya?

2166.Looks like Stu Rasmussen's in the news again.

Stu, owner of the Palace Theater movie house and Silverton's elected mayor, has made national news for being perhaps the first transgendered (a term which includes gender-reassigned people as well as transvestites who dress as a means of self-actualization rather than arousal) elected official in the USA, is a well-known and popular public figure (no pun intended) in Silverton, winning the popular vote desipte of (or maybe because of) his out desire to dress as a woman.

He looks pretty damn good doing it too. Seriously.

Another interesting thing about Stu (and an excellent argument against a broad-brush approach to any group of people) is that despite dressing and expressing himself in personal style as a woman, Stu is still a "he". He promotes himself as Stu.

Stu, as assayed through the reports on him I've seen in the media, does have a singular sense of style. He tends toward rather brief fashions – miniskirts, high-heels, decolletage, all of which he carries off rather well. It, in an unexpected way, suits him.

However, Brenda Sturdevant (according to this KGW report complete with really really tiny video), Silverton Together manager, thought that an outfit he wore to a recent talk to school kids put a little too much of Stu out there:

Silverton Together Now manager Brenda Sturdevant filed the complaint alleging the city dress code was violated when Rasmussen wore "high heels, a very short skirt and some sort of halter top revealing much of his bosom, shoulders and back" to the meeting of the Apple tree group.

Now, this is the thing that really has me rather pleasantly amused about it. They didn't complain because this was some dude dressing as a woman; they complained because the style of dress was inappropriate. This is, I think, the same sort of complaint that a bio-woman would have faced if she had been similarly dressed!

Silverton, how the hell did you get so cool? Why couldn't you have been that way when I lived there?

In his defense, Stu said it was hellishly hot (how hot in Silverton on a hot day? Take whatever temprature you got in Salem and add 10F to it. Trust me on this) and equally humid (also true). The chief objection was that the outfit should have been a little more business-like, and less … well, hot.

The Silverton City Dress Code actually (like many businesses and similar organizations) has a bit to say about that. It specifies, amongst inappropriate female clothing, Midrift (sic)/Tanktops and Miniskirts. So, as far as the dress code goes, Stu is standing on shaky ground there.

Again, he responds quite logically that he thinks the dress code is silly and unnecessary.

Who knew that this sort of battle would be joined over a transgendered mayor … in little ol' Silverton? Who says life is entirely dull?

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[type] Thomas Phinney Makes Extensis Proud

2165.Thomas Phinney, of Portland's own Extensis, has won kudos for the home team by winning the Typophile of the Year title at this year's TypeCon.


Be scoring higher than everyone else on TypeCon's legendary (and legendarily difficult) Type Quiz, for which I would kill to get a look at.

What this means on the practical level is that he knows more about type than you and me and everyone has forgotten.

(via this dude on Twitter)

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[liff] But Then Orwell Rather Lends Itself To Such Irony

2164.Inasmuch as Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of my favorite books, I found this kerfuffle incredibly amusing: it would seem that Amazon has not only deleted Orwell's famous dystopian novel from its e-book stocks, but also remotely removed it from every Kindle on which it was downloaded.

The irony inherent in Nineteen Eighty-Four being chuted down the memory hole should need neither introduction nor explanation.

The truth is actually as prosaic as it was amusing; the publisher who released the e-version of the novel was not the publisher who had the rights to do so – in the USA, anyway. Nineteen Eighty-Four is in the public domain in several countries (notably, Canada). Just as with much other net goodness (vintage video-game ROM images and porn come to mind) the responsibility lies with the downloader or, in this case, the entity making such content available for sale to others – Amazon, in this case.

Thus, the deletion of Nineteen Eighty-Four from the Amazon e-book stock and the Kindles. Amazon was, essentially, selling a pirated work (at least as far as USA law is concerned)

The subtlety to the jest comes in the apology that Jeff Bezos published to the Kindle community. It was all mea culpa and no explanation. I don't mean to criticize the policy really; there could have been exculpation and explanation in equal measure, though. But CNet columnist Peter Glaskowsky leapt unto the breach with a succinct, clear message.

Myself, I prefer actual books, not networked devices that the vendor can delete content at will on (hell, can't afford a Kindle anyway). Which reminds me, I got some Harlan Ellison I need to get into.

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22 July 2009

[pdx] The Way Burgerville Rolls, Part 2

2163.Leave it to Burgerville USA to realize the potential of the so-called "roach coach"[1]. Via The Columbian:
On Thursday, the 24-foot-long Burgerville Nomad will take its maiden voyage, pulling away from parent company The Holland Inc.'s downtown headquarters and heading south to Portland's Waterfront Park. The decked-out kitchen will be used for community events and as a stand-in facility during restaurant remodels.
City of foodcarts, get ready for the mother of all food carts!

According to the article, if the Nomad works out (and I think it will) they'll move out more of them.

And while I am happy that BV is going to be scouting downtown Portland for a location, they really have to put one back down in Salem. They had one at the I-5/Market Street exit, but they took it out when the interchange was remodeled back in the 90s.

It would be a welcome bit of culture down there.

[1] Roach coach is only a term of artifice. There will be no actual roaches – of any kind.

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21 July 2009

[graphic design] Harlan Ellison, The 70s, The Dillons, and Classic Paperback Cover Design

2162.The 1970s stood at a peculiar place in style and design. The sensibility of the Summer of Love was coming right up against the comparative Sobriety of the Nixon years. It was a curious time for design; as I remember it, if you wanted a certain worldview, all you had to do was find a suitable graphic treatment, one which appealed to your aesthetic sense, and it led you right into you wanted to know.

Harlan Ellison was one of the hottest members of what some critics call science fiction's New Wave, and had a reputation for taking on things in his stories in a very unafraid way. I think people regarded him as iconoclastic and some of the covers to his books seemed to be designed to take advantage of that (I have some training in marketing. Yeah, it kind of messes you up for life).

During this period, Pyramid Books released a series called the Pyramid Uniform series, which was designed to take advantage of the author's "brand" perception. This is one from Harlan's Memos From Purgatory:

This became a template for other designs. Notable here is the author's name in a distinctive, designed type which, in it's curves, evokes Hobo, and seems to echo psychedelia style. Each book in the series was numbered as part of the series, and featured the volume number as a numeral replacing the counter in the O in ELLISON.

The illustrations were created by a famous American illustrative partnership, Leo & Diane Dillon. Two-time winners of the Caldecott Medal, they produced many SF Cover illustrations during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and are still active in children's book illustrating to this day. The artists, personal favorites of Ellison, had a talent for distilling the mix of wonder, hope, disquiet and dread as well as delight that one typically finds in reading Ellison's stories into a illustration that represents the essence of the work in ways both indirect and obvious. The perception that must be involved to do this kind of staggers the mind.

Another feature of the Pyramid series is that the illustration has a hidden picture of the author embedded. In the one above, it's probably obvious. In this one, for the collection Partners in Wonder:

There appears to be a face in the middle of the amazingly-layered and evocative illustration, which doesn't really look like Harlan, although the hair-part is on the correct side. The use of the word "dyn-O-mite" in the cover blurb is charmingly dated, but the design sense overall remains timeless because it's such a strong one.

The last one I have here isn't from the Pyramid series; it was published by Signet in 1974. Harlan Ellison's Approaching Oblivion is, withought a doubt, one of my favorite books by anyone anywhere. It even includes a witty foreward by Michael Crichton (this was back when he still had something to say and wasn't guaranteed eighty gazillion dollars just for getting out of bed and turning on his computer). The illustration, again by the Dillons, captures the sense of wonder, hope, apprehension, and dark joy I got from reading it. It opened up this big wide lens on the world to me that showed both the good and the bad, and somehow, the cover illo displays this emotionally to me:

It evokes the cover of the original SF Book club edition, but is in brilliant color rather than monochome, with this neat, meaty type that I rather enjoy. I dont know per se if Harlan's face is hidden in there: there's several faces, and at least two of them might be him, but pareidolia is a tricky, tricky thing (just ask anyone who still thinks there's a face on Mars).

All for now …

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[pdx] Views Of The West End

2161.SW 13th Avenue, Stark Street, and West Burnside come together at this big plenum which used to anchor the west end of the gay club district. With PDXEagle up on N Lombard now, Club Portland gone, and the Pink Triangle becoming more metrosexual by the day, it's comforting to know that, for now anyway, the district still looks like a slice of old downtown Portland, the downtown Portland that I fell in sloppy love with when I first visited as a teenager out of Salem:

View it embiggened at Posterous here.

Another view I particularly enjoy is looking down West Burnside. Now, my camera does a pretty fine job, my Plastic Fantastic, the ViviCam 3705, but it's views like this that make me wish I could afford a nifty camera with telephoto, because street views like this are so much fun to play with:

View this one embiggened at Posterous.

It's just quintessentially downtown Portland. And I've always loved downtown Portland.

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20 July 2009

[www] Is It Worth It To Support IE6? YOU Do The Math!

2160.The buzz has it that MS Internet Explorer 6 is going to the digital graveyard: if you had any doubts, consider that YouTube – which supports just about anything (well, anything worth using), is ending IE6 support and will soon not play nicely with it, and will give you a link to download IE7 (though I'd suggest you'd at least go with Firefox or Safari).

If all that doesn't convince you, maybe this will. Web developer/branding guru/marketing maven Brian Cray has created a quick equation that anyone with even a few brain-cells of web-savvy can use to determine the cost of supporting what's quickly becoming a digital dinosaur. It's from a marketing and e-commerce standpoint, but I think it has a point to make about unproductive effort in general.

In his example, if your website makes $0.10/visit, if 100 of those visits use IE6, if it costs you $20/hour to employ a web design specialist and it takes them 4 hours to fix IE6 problems, then you're losing $70/hour just for supporting IE6.

Here's the article. Do the math. Can you afford the time and trouble to support this? If you're aim isn't to make money off your website, and given that you can't get that development time back, is it really worth it?

(All my cards on the table here: I run a Mac and use Firefox 3.5. The last version of MSIE I can run is 5, as MSFT stopped developing for the Mac with version 6. Sometimes I load MSIE 5 for Mac just for the nostalgia of it.)

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The One Hundred Thousandth Vistor Has Arrived

2158.It happened today, at last, at 17:22:43 – a surver from Pittsburgh who, crazily, apparently got a search result on the article immediately before this one:

I feel like an adult now.

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Yu Wan Mei: Fish Time Is Success Time

2158.With the economy and the world the way it is, it's good to know that one company has proven itself to to have the insight and long view to monetize the salvage fishery sector for the betterment of all. That company: Yu Wan Mei:

Yu Wan Mei Amalgamated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Group is dedicated to harvesting the ocean’s great aquatic bounty to bring residual fish and fish-related nourishment and substances to honorable consumers across the globe. Through research and care, Yu Wan Mei has developed expertise in a number of the latest fish-extraction techniques, pleasing all who consume its line of healthful, pleasing products. Laborers and machines work in harmony at Yu Wan Mei, ensuring unparalleled achievement in all possible arenas.

This is why SATISFACTION is synonymous with YU WAN MEI
What sorts of helpful, healthful, pleasing products will you consume that will contribute to your robustness? Well, how about:

  • Gel Made with all ingredients, this gel is perfect for any occasion. Child and adult enjoy it equally, sometimes, as do even pets! If you need gel, buy this gel.
  • Yu Wan Mei Device The device has been completed and is now available for sale. Code 41-Virtue-00B
  • Yu Wan Mei Miscellaneous Flavor Paste Any meal or food can be a better meal with the magic touch of the Miscellaneous Flavor Paste spread on it! It is strongly recommended that you buy two, because of the compelling power of this product.
How can you resist? I know I can't!

Fish time is Success Time! And I, for one, welcome our new fish by-product masters.

Man, I tell you, this stuff is just like reading The Onion.

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The One Hundred Thousandth Visitor

2157.At this writing, I have 155 more visitors to go.

And at the rate I've been racking them up lately, it should happen sometime between 2 PM and 6 PM local.

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17 July 2009

[graphic design] Virginia Woof Doggie Daycare – Divine Logo, Awful Type

2156.At the corner of SW 16th Avenue and West Burnside Street in Portland is the Virginia Woof Doggie Daycare. This is a noble venture that provides high-quality dog care and provides training to at-risk youth. This is a division of the well-known Portland area charity Outside In.

The logo melts my heart and makes me smile:

Clever reference to the literary allusion, and I'd swear that Border Collie is enjoying reading a book (in my experience, most doggies are more comic-book readers). That is a happy doggy!

The logo hits a home run. What's the only way you can break my heart with this sort of thing? Well, here it is:

Use ITC Matisse. Why, why, why did you have to emblazon your windows with this font, Virginia Woof? It sticks in the eyes like little daggers.

Honestly, I don't know why it was called Matisse. Matisse was a skillful master artist. His namesake font is anything but artistic. I cry and die inside whenever I see this.

That being said, it's a charity, it makes pets happy, it makes pet owners happy, it gives kids skills. So you should maybe donate? And, Virigina Woof – please consider some other type. I'm sorry to be blunt – but Matisse is oogly! No, more than that – double oogly! And it makes designers cry.

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16 July 2009

[type] Semi-Covered-Over Type on Building at SW 17th And West Burnside

2155.Seen on a walk today:

SW 17th and West Burnside. I think Dimitri's Greek nighclub is or was there.

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[branding] Whatchu' Talkin 'Bout, Sears Tower?

2154.Because my blogging card will be confiscated if I don't make an awkward Diff'rent Strokes reference because America's tallest building is now officially the Willis Tower.

Yeah. That's what I'm talking about.

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[print tech] I May Not Be Rich, But My Black Is

2153.I got a tipoff to a great article today about three sins in print design, and they're good things to remember.

They reduce down to three things they even teach you in Community College design school, they are that basic. they are, in order: Designing in RGB rather than CMYK; using black rather than "rich" black; and not using 300 dpi images in designs meant for print.

The first and last can make up an article all on thier own. But the second really caught my attention, because I also have a love of words that make things that don't necessarily happen together stick in the mind. Though the idea of "rich" black should stick in every print designer's mind.

Okay, enough circumlocution, and besides, what non-designer readers might want to know is, just what is rich black (disposing of the quote marks hereinafter)? It's pretty much what it suggests it is: black with a little "something extra".

Color print (other than spot printing) involves using the four so-called process colors cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K) to create the colors you see on the final product. Nothing is perfect, so CMYK can't produce every color you find in nature, but the gamut (a color theorist term for the range of possible colors that can be produced) is wide and useful enough that you'll never run up against a wall. Since inks aren't perfect, then black isn't perfectly black. You have to give it a little help. How? By adding one of the C, M, or Y inks.

On the left, true black @ K=100, On the right, rich black at C=90,
M=60, Y=30, and K=100. Inspired by the linked article.

Long ago, some wag said you can never be too rich or too thin. In the CMYK model, that's only half right: as you can see, you can indeed be too thin. True black ink, printed at 100%, may seem black, but when put up against rich black, it seems gray. A very dark gray, to be sure, but unmistakably gray. You amp up that black by throwing in a bit of one, two, or three of the other process colors.

Amusingly (and perhaps predictably) there is more than one opinion as to what constitutes a good rich black. One of the commenters in the linked article, Darren, put it in a way that's both interesting, has a clear grounding in color theory, and is easily rememberable:

I am a prepress technician and a true rich black or super black is 100% K and 40% Cyan for a cool black or 40% Magenta for a warm black. Don’t use any other percentage combos as they cause problems for the printer. Also don’t use a rich black for any text under 20pts (printers hate that). And if you do any of the above most printers will convert your pdf to the percentages I have above. Only use it for large black areas and text over 20pts.
And that's another thing: rich black isn't ideal for every part of the application. True black is typically adequate for small black areas and type you're going to be reading; the more ink you use, the more saturated the paper is going to become, which has the unfortunate tendency of munging up the works.

But if a real good black is part of the overall design scheme, you'll want to remember to use rich black. Black is a powerful color, and if you're looking to make an impact with that design, you'll want it to crackle and pop, and if you take the edge off your black, the pop just won't be as large.

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15 July 2009

The Horizon and The City: "Bluffing" Portland

2152.Another thing we did on a day simply pointing the car in whatever direction and taking whatever picture we felt was there are, as everyone knows, great places to get long-view skyline photos of Portland.

Visual Portland is a treat. If you could eat the view, it would taste like your favorite food and would never get you fat and never give you heart disease. And we have great viewpoints that we can take our leisure at. Here's a few we found, and if you want to view them embiggened, then click on the words "Posterous Link" that should appear beneath each photo. If you want to see my whole Posterous stream, it's at http://zehnkatzen.posterous.com.

One great place is the University of Portland. The very cheerful campus, located in north Portland, is located at the lip of a cliff called Waud's Bluff. It affords a commanding view of the working harbor of Portland, Swan Island, and the Swan Island lagoon:

If you move just a schoshe to the west, you have a handy-dandy, neato-mosquito ready-made visual frame made out of foliage:

In the first, you get a great view of the harbor and Swan Island. In the second, you get a layered effect; nature, Island, and bustling city in the distance.

I've got to say also at this point that the UP is a very welcoming host. Me and The Wife™ wandered onto campus with a camera and just started pointing and shooting, and as soon as Campus Security realized we were just takin' landscape snaps, they let us be. Thank you, UP security. You rock.

At the other end of town there's a bluff which I don't know the name of, which overlooks two very special Portland places. One is the wetland known as Oaks Bottom, which is an urban wildlife paradise, and the other is the Oaks Amusement Park, one of the last of that old-fashioned breed, 104 years old and just as popular as ever, with a legendary roller rink.

At the lip of the bluff overlooking the bottom, there's a shortish street called SE Sellwood Blvd. Narrow, pleasant, and lined with homes that are so very modest and charming you just know they cost more than $500,000 each, even in this economy.

Well, you do get quite a view for your coin, especially at sunset:

If you let the land dominate, rather than the sky, you get this view:

These two shots demonstrate a certain thing that I always had a feel about but didn't really realize solidly until I saw it. It's true in the University of Portland shots but it really jumps out to you in the Oak Bottom pair. The upper shot, containing just the sky and the skyline, is very warm, very dreamy – almost ephemeral. The new buildings in the Portland skyline almost make it a truly-futuristic thing. But when I let the land dominate, it changed the color balance entirely, making it very cool and less Brigadoon like.

On the UP photos, including the nature in the foreground softened up and gave the view a boundary. But with the Sellwood/Oaks Bottom photos, it goes between dream and reality.

Such is the magic of composition. No matter what camera you got, you can choose for effect.

And Portland makes a very cool model. I frigg'n love my hometown.

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A Rainbow on the Floor

2151.Just a chance photo, it is what it is:

It amazes me that Isaac Newton looked at something like that and said "ah ha! Color! Separate wavelengths!"

View it bigly at posterous here.

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How Do You Make A Comic Sans Poster Even Worse?

2150.By adding Papyrus, a/k/a, "The thinking man's Comic Sans".

You can view it at this link at Typophile. I was thinking of hotlinking the photo, but I wanted to give y'alls fair warning. I'm not into pointless cruelty.

Well, somtimes I am. Just not here.

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KOIN's Owner Files Bankrupcy (Breaking)

2149.This just in, as reported by the Portland Business Journal and Portland Housing Blog:

The owner of Portland’s channel 6 KOIN TV station will enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware this week, under a financial restructuring plan with debt holders.
Los Angeles-based New Vision Television, which also owns KBNZ in Bend, will eliminate $400 million in debt and guaranteed obligations and obtain $30 million in new financing under the agreement with first- and second-lien debt holders, the company announced. In exchange, debt holders will receive equity in the company and seats on its board of directors.

Teufel Nursery's going down too.

Welcome to the new economy.

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Another New Street Blade – On E Burnside

2148.One of the street blades we were out to get yesterday I missed putting in the big post a couple back, but there's also a new one on E Burnside.

This is East Burnside Street in the 9100 block, looking east. The car in the distance is just crossing the I-205 overpass.

Standing on the north side of the street at this point you are at the physical corner of East Burnside and NE 91st Place. Looking across the street, you can see this:

Atop that post, just visible in the foliage, is the street blade, mounted so as to identify the cross street to someone leaving NE 91st Place … though with all that foliate, we aren't quite saying "mission accomplished" here. However, it makes a first-class background for a close up picture:

The new sign, like the others we've been increasingly finding, is in the Clearview font.

The block index ought to be zero, and should read "00" in the upper right hand corner (which you'd read "zero-hundred" maybe). Although it is possible that it was deemed unnecessary to include a block number because it is the baseline and this is a well-known thing. Still, as a format-completist, I'd like to see the double-aught there.

Free e-book: Contracts for Designers Who Hate Contracts

2147.Ross Kimbarovsky of CrowdSpring offers a free e-book about contracts and copyright for designers, that even includes a template document you can adapt to your own needs.

I'm opposed to the 'crowdsourcing' model, because I think if you want a good job you don't improve either the quality of your product nor the quality of the design profession by cattle-calling. But I'll give the Devil his due there; the e-book is a good, quick read about copyrights and designers rights which is free, a quick read, and lays it out all quick-and-simple, which is a boon for designers who'd just rather do the designing. I salute this.

Yes, I did say it was free. Download it from here.

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R.I.P. Max Factor, et. al.

2146.Yes, its true: Max Factor is being pulled from the market by the year 2010.

This article (via megaTwitterer iamkhayyam) offers a look at 20 large companies who ended in 2009. Some you've heard of; many you haven't (if you're an Oregon local anyway) and it all paints this picture of economic Darwinism in action. All of these companies are I'm certain – to anyone who's heard of them – companies that nobody probably thought would ever go away.

Sic transit gloria. And so it goes.

(PS: I was notified by a commenter that I didn't actually include the link to the article. Duh. Fixed. here's the URL for your reference: http://www.businesspundit.com/20-brands-products-that-died-in-2009/)

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Sign Safari: New Blades on outer Tibbetts and Taggart, And A Couple of Oddities

2145.We went on sign safari again today, and came up with some goodies, from one end of the east side to the other. New Street blades, with the new Clearview font, show how the new Portland street blade look is shaping up. We have a couple of oddities as well, one which proves an assumption we made earlier.

Not long ago, I don't remember why, I had an occasion to be along SE 162nd between Division and Powell, and caught a glimpse of the new blades in passing. Went back today, and here's what we got:

Zooming in for a nice, close look, we find that while the numbered avenue still seems to use the old-style glyphs:

… the named blade uses the new Clearview type (this is also kind of evident in the photo above):

The tracking amongst all the letters is rather appropriate, and nothing in the positioning of the glyps looks forced or awkward at all.

The ironic thing about this was, I had forgotten the name of the street, confusing it with another T-named street nearby – Tibbetts. I told The Wife™ we were going out to 162nd and Tibbetts to see the new blades. She wanted to do a little neighborhood cruising and we found our way to Tibbetts. What should we find at SE 167th Avenue and Tibbetts Street, of all things, but this:

Another catch! In constrast to the last blade set, whereas the blade for SE Tibbetts Street is in Clearview:

So, also is the numbered avenue blade:

The downstroke to the 7 is the dead giveaway where, but the subtle curves and tapers on all the glyphs should be obvious to students of the form.

This is additionally notable because it's the first one which is solidly away from any main thoroughfare. SE 167th and Tibbetts is in a sleepy corner of a remote SE neighborhood, which is still very charming, with mid 20th Century ranch-style houses and gently curving streets. Very pleasant area overall.

In the area, we also found an oddity. Street blades have been appearing on very narrow streets serving infill housing on greatly subdivided lots; these seem to typically be green glyphs on a white background, opposite the Portland standard. Given the look of the property this following street stub serves, we're pretty sure that these signs denote privately-maintained streets whose developers arranged to be integrated into the address grid for purposes of ease of location. This sign was seen along SE 162nd Avenue, between (as you might expect) Division and Stark Streets:

At least two notable differences are immediately apparent here. First of all, unlike any other sign of this type, the specific (HAWTHORNE) is larger than both the directional (SE) as well as the generic (CT). Situate as it is, we can safely assume that it was named as an extension to SE Hawthorne Blvd (it's the county standard to do things this way). Secondly, the post on which the single blade is mounted is not the round metal pipe, but rather more of a fence-post which is square in cross-section. Also, as you can tell by this photo:

It's built rather lowe to the ground. The city doesn't seem to mount blades this low without some sort of reason, which is usually apparent from the surroundings. There's no real reason to put the sign down this low – as a matter of fact, a taller pole would actually make it more visible. Also, something about the location of that sign within a private front-yard fence line strongly suggests that this is a private installation.

To close out this safari, how about something you may not have known: you're aware that any numbered street (except in Linnton) is an Avenue. How about one that's a Boulevard? For a while now, the section of NE 122nd Avenue north of Sandy, through Airport Way to Marine Drive, has been designated as such:

This blade is at the corner of NE 122nd and Marine Drive, but has been marked "NE 122nd Blvd". No apparent reason for this except, we guess, that 122nd north of Sandy very wide, high-capacity road serving the industrial flatland. However, though the signs along most of this stretch have it as Blvd, new signs going in at 122nd and Airport Way now denote 122nd Avenue, so maybe that designation is reverting.

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14 July 2009

Ad Design FAIL: Apparently, They're Letting Any Tom, Dick, Or Harry Be Your Mom

2144.I've noticed that regardless of how people feel about the "stimulus", there's no shortage of people willing to try to make a few bucks off of being seen as somehow connected to the whole thing. I've seen "Obama's stimulus this" and "Obama's stimulus that" all over the place: phone poles, roadside signs, and banner ads:

You understand that the face of an African-American man is being used here to promote moms being encouraged to return to school?

Call me sexist if you want, but I think that, all else being equal, a mom is usually a lady-type person.

Or are they just thinking that they throw any black person's face in there and I'll think its President Obama?

Banner ads, my patience with you is rather short. I've learned to accept you because I have no choice. Don't lord it over me, yes?

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12 July 2009

Ellison Webderland

2143.Ellison Webderland is Harlan Ellison's officially-endorsed home on the web. I'm hardly the first person to have found it, but I must mention this because I was slightly incorrect on a remark I've made earlier: while it does seem to to be correct in the main that Ellison has little truck with the intertubes, he does not completely eschew the komputenmaschine; he does occasionally answer and banter in the "Art Deco Dining Pavilion" section.

But it's a fun site, and maybe no more fun than realizing that it's a paradise of 1998-era web design. But the denizens are terribly welcoming. I'm glad I found it.

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A Bridge To Wordpress

2142.This is more a bit of self-documentation of the evolution of this blog, but I suppose it is a fishing expedition for suggestions as well. Also, those who blog tend to write obsessively about what they're doing with their blogs because we are all the masters of our own worlds (we've got to be … otherwise why have a blog? We might just as well continue keeping a diary, yes?).

Anyway, for a while now I've been wanting to sharpen my Blogger customization skills. I have a little Blogger mojo but not as much as I want to. Sadly, though, every time I start studying Blogger markup, my eyes just glaze over, and the new regime with widgets – while mad fun and easy to add spiffy stuff – just starts to make my eyes cross.

Not long ago I broadcast an appeal to teh Twitter for any suggestions for good Blogger references that won't make me want to, say, go out and mow the lawn just to get a break from it. And it was suggested to me that I move my whole operation to Wordpress. What I didn't publicize at that time was that I have had a Wordpress version of this for a while – it's at http://zehnkatzen.wordpress.com – and I've been using it as a mirror/backup to this one.

It does have awesome functionality, and I'm exploring it slowly. A move may be in the offiing – and it may be just the thing.

Fortunately, ScribeFire (the blogging plugin for FF) makes it easy to post to both places. So, starting here, that's just what I'm going to be doing.

Does anyone know of any resources to help me pierce the inscrutable veil around the Blogger markup? Also, is Wordpress any easier to customize?

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