28 June 2012

[liff] New Tomatoes, We Haz Them

2852.I'm finally accomplishing something I've wanted to try for a very long time.

I'm growing tomatoes and peppers. Not very much right now: one Willamette tomato plant and a Sweet 100 (cherry tomato) plant, and a regular old California Wonder green pepper.

I have always been fascinated by growing things but never thought I had it in me to actually grow anything. I have found out that, to a certain point, it kind of takes care of itself. You just have to keep an eye on your plants and make sure not too much goes wrong. But the Willamette - a tomato designed to grow in this climate and zone, and an heirloom, so, if I was crazy enough, I could grow more Willamettes from the tomato seeds (heirlooms breed true from seed) and the Sweet 100 have a joie de vivre, to be sure. They both seem thrilled to be alive.

Have had them for something over two months and they're starting to be filled with those modest little yellow blossoms. And … well, one's turning into an actual tomato fruit. See here:

It's right there in that red circle. it's actual size is about that of a big pea.

It's really pretty exciting. This is the first time I've ever grown anything, and the first time I'm growing a veggie that I quite enjoy.

I can't wait to slice and eat this one. This is a special occasion, taught me a little something, and provided me with a skill that speaks to self-sufficiency.

Can't wait for that pepper to start producing. They have the most adorable white blossoms …

[liff] Enzo's Daddy Likes My Graphic

2851.A while back, I designed a little graphic, inspired by Fairey, that honored the head of our favorite weather team (over on KGW), because one day he was just so busy explaining it all … the KGW weather team seems not just passionate but positively geeky over weather and science.

This was it:

Since I follow Zaffino on Twittah, I noticed that he'd changed his avatar pic latterly, and it kind of made my day:

I am so thrilled about this. Now, I thanked him for the honor and then Klouted him with +K's a few times, and he's not responded, but I'm thinking all that might be a little stalker-y, so I'm not going to stress over it. It's obvious where it came from and it's cool, because this is kinda one of the hopes I had for it.

I'm so proud …

[pdx] Mount Hood Near Sunset, Vance Park, Gresham

2849.The Wife™ is of the opinion we need to spend more time outdoors. I agree.

Right now I enjoy long walks in the park, which sounds very singles-bar-ish, which is awkward since I'm happily married.


This is the sort of thing you'll see in Vance Park, in Gresham, late on a early-Summer evening:

Vance Park is on SE 182nd Avenue, just south of Mill Street, a short walk from SE 181st and Stark. So it's accessable. Just a pleasant city park, nothing special except maybe an undefinable something that concentrates time and space into a feeling of … well, something or other. 

It backs up to an old gravel quarry on its eastern margin that you can reach via SE 190th Avenue. It's possible to get into it this way, from the park, as some enterprising people have made a hole in the fence there and here, but I'd advise against it. That first step … it's a lulu. 

It's possible to get some gorgeous shots of Mount Hood though. I really wanted something like this since the cloud adds more than a little bit of drama. That's the maximum zoom the Kodak EasyShare will allow, which is all the optical zoom plus a bit of digital zoom.

… context is all, as they say. Here's some of that, too.

I really recommend Vance Park. It's got a nine-hole disc golf course, a little panhandle which reaches back into some treebound seclusion (which would be good on a hot day, we got the feeling), and a nice amount of lawn and the people around there are awfully decent sorts.

[liff] I've Never Met Dan Piraro, But He Knows Me Somehow

2848.So, I was tooling through existence, just looking for something that would make me smile, and I found this:

Used with the artist's gracious permission. Seriously. I asked Piraro
and he said yes, which is squee-worthy, even for an adult man,
which I apparently am. So they say.)

He almost got my looks right, too. However, for me it's briefs, not boxers (which is probably more than anyone deserved to know but you cannot unthink what you have thought, hahahahaha!).

For what it's worth, one of the shortcuts would be SHIFT-CMD-T. You get bonus points for figuring out what application, but I don't know where you'll spend them. They closed that store down, yo.

Thank you to the actual Dan Piraro for his kind permission in allowing me to illustrate with this.

26 June 2012

[web_design] OregonLive Redesign: Say Hello To My Prelo-Slab Friend

2847.In case you've somehow, during the past day, not dialled-up OregonLive, the The Oregonian-ish website run by Advance Publications, The Big O's parent, you're in for a surprise, boy-o.

If you've sworn off OLive (as some I know have), here's what you're missing:

A cleaner, leaner design. A big, meaty guts-column of real-time-updated stories, theme selectable by a drop-down (Top Stories/News/Sports/Entertainment/Opinion). A buff-colored, spacious header that extrudes into the page as you scroll down.

Departments? They got'em:

Each one of those blue buttons open a dialog that allows you to select criteria, you click a search-button, and it's off to the races. This is all below the "fold" in the right-side column. Below this, you'll find a most read/most commented block, and at the footer, direct links to direct sections.

One of the biggest complaints about OLive over the years it's existed is its clutteredness. It was not the most useful of interfaces, and unless you knew what you were looking for, you could indeed get lost while looking for what you were (or weren't finding). The most irritating thing to me was the center, where sports stories were thrown together in a mixed-hierarchy goulash. While the sections were laid out across the top, it was a matter of guessing to see to it that you picked the right one to drill down into.

This is, indeed a better design. Although the menus that would explode into the screen when you merely moused over the section titles along the top were a little tough to get use to … well, all interfaces have a learning curve. This one's mercifully short. I already, after just a few minutes, know where I want to go to get what I want to know. The clean, clear, and organized look of the site is a refreshing change from the gallimaufry chaos of the original OLive.

The most striking feature of the redesign, and the one that leaps right out (and almost grabs you by the throat), is that heavy, authoritative font. It's called Prelo-slab, you can find some here, and boy is it an aggressive look in the application. It almost dares you not to click it. Actually, in the ways it's being used, it comes off as a little too heavy; I note, at the vendors page, there's maybe another weight I'd use for those headlines.

But you know what? I like the redesign.

Although, biggest flaw? For a few minutes I thought I'd stumbled into some big ol' Reddit.

23 June 2012

[logo] The Biggest Bimbo You've Never Heard Of

2846.One of the niftiest and funnest things in language as well as design is when a foreign firm or company translates itself into American English terms without changing the name that made them famous, even if that name picks up baggage in the translation.

For example.

If I asked you, without Googling, now, what the largest bakery in America would be, what would you say?


Guess again … Bimbo.

Portland newsie Kristi Turnquist peeped this on the back of a delivery truck, and it struck her as funny, presumably because the word bimbo has a historic association with women of a certain perceived character.

The real funny thing about it, though, is that the word Bimbo … pronounced in its native Spanish, "BEEM-bo" rather than the American English "BIM-bo", means nothing in that native tongue. Research indicates its a made-up word. In Latin America, however, it's a market titan, and in some countries, it's pretty much a synonym for bread itself.

Like many companies these days, it's a multinational; it has a huge subsidiary in the USA called Bimbo Bakeries USA which, during the last decade, has merged its way into becoming the single largest baked goods producer in the nation.

Had a Boboli pizza crust? Oroweat bread? Thomas' English Muffin? You're having a Bimbo for lunch, bucko.

Now, that's one big Bimbo. 

22 June 2012

[art] Terry Moore's Comic Art Tumblr

2845.Now that I've gotten back into Strangers In Paradise, I suppose I'll start being obsessive about it. I'm ADD about the things I like, but it's kind of telescoped-out … I'll get into something, make an earnest attempt to get every single bit of interesting information out of something, endeavor to leave it like a dry husk, then move on.

I don't know why I do this. I long ago learned not to question it.

So, in the opening gambit to obsess on the astounding work of Terry Moore, an artist who's pencil I could but merely hope to borrow, if that, here's a bit of a delight: TerryMooreArt, his tumblr blog. What sorts of things will you find there? Why…



… and David

… amongst other things. Like Supergirl riding a meteor and drinking a Coke.

It's cool stuff. It's http://terrymooreart.tumblr.com/.

20 June 2012

[logo] How Much For That Saul Bass In The Window, or If You Have To Ask …

2844.Saul Bass … logo design legend.

No, God.

Ever wonder how much God would charge you if you were His client?
My biggest sale using this approach was the Rockwell International logo and subsequent branding, which paid the Bass firm more than $2 million in fees over two years. Continental airlines paid us about a half million.
So saith Bill Haig, Ph.D., someone who is "not a graphic designer", but has a doctorate in logo design, and is one of the grand old men in the branding game. He did learn his trade under God, however.

The Logo Design Love Blog asked him how much the firm would bill clients and he gave some very enlightening answers. These were in late-60's dollars but it would still be a pretty sweet payday for any graphic designer or firm.

I think I have a business model now.

As Steve Martin once said, "This is what I'm shootin' for. One show …  goodbye."

19 June 2012

[art] Blade Runner … in Watercolor

2843.(Via Slate) Aquarelle is a particular style of watercolor painting. Made with a transparent wash, they're airy, atmospheric, and very, very soft – and you have to get them right, first time. You can't 'fix' an aquarelle.

Via Slate I stumbled on an amazing media project, mounted by Anders Ramsell, which is the rendering of the film Blade Runner into aquarelle. This, my friends, is the teaser:

It takes a little visual-getting-used-to, but once you do the feeling of air and space and atmosphere takes over. It seems apparent that he's rendering frames, one-by-one, and photographing them, making this whole endeavor sort of a mashup of rotoscoping and animation.

Very inviting to the eye. Very daring.

It's going to take tens of thousands of individual paintings to complete, and he's 3,000 or 4,000 in now.

[art] The Resurgence of Miss Ankle-Strap Typewriter

2842.They say that typewriters are dead and/or dying?

Maybe. But maybe not.

There is a particularly vital existence for the typewriter in this post-typewriter media world however. Similar to the retro/funky/cool/connoisseurs vibe that the vinyl LP record is enjoying these days, the typewriter simply refuses to die. And people keep coming back to rediscover a classic:
 Banuelos, who started working at the store 44 years ago, when he was in high school, isn’t surprised by the recent bump in interest. Typewriters are beautiful objects, he said. People want to buy them.
“We have customers all the time,” he said. “[It’s] somebody’s birthday, somebody’s anniversary, or somebody in love with a young boyfriend.” To want a typewriter, you have to be a bit of a romantic, he added, “and besides, they’re cool.” They can also be a relief from computers and the distractions of the Internet. “They want a machine that has to be old, unique and nice,” Banuelos said. “Why? Because of this. The click, click, click. They want that.”
Not only are people who value and feel romantic about the past using them, certain Great American Writers still swear by them.

The whole story is at Salon, here: http://www.salon.com/2012/06/19/a_typewriter_renaissance/singleton/

17 June 2012

[diary] The Diary of a 5th-Grade Girl

2841.Since I haven't posted anything on diarizing latterly, I went looking for something … and I wanted that something to be quirky, cool, and kind of special. And here it is … The Amy Diary.

There is a certain reputation diaries have, and maybe it's because of young tween and early-teen ladies who write in handwriting that is based on squashed circles, beginning each entry Dear Diary and ending by signing their name. It's such a dear, sweet, girly thing.

Maybe that's why few adults, and even fewer men, keep diaries. And if they do, Lord, don't ever expect to hear them call it a diary, because that's what young ladies do! The'll call it a Journal or a Chronicle or a Log or something.

I think that's an unfortunate thing. All a diary is, is a daily (well, more-or-less). But I digress.

AmyBarbara's 5th-grade diary does read like a stereotypical young-girl's diary, filled with friends, boys,  feelings and the like, and written in a stereotypical young-girl's soft, squashy script. But this, too is its charm; it has unabashed sweetness, sincerity, and authenticity. Every time one sees her sign off on one of her single-page entries with the mononym Amy, it's hard to suppress a smile. And the adult AmyBarbara has to be commended for having the courage to share it.

But, too, there's unexpected precision and attention-to-design and layout that is there. Note, above, the format of the page header. Upper right, day; Upper center, date; Upper left, the day's "grade"; below the grade, the year. Each page formatted exactly the same, every bit of information in its place, nothing out of place.

I format my diary pages similarly. Though an individual entry can (and frequently does) span multiple pages, in the upper left is the entry number (I am obsessed with serial sequences) the upper right is the page number (yes, I number pages in my book) and all are formatted similarly - the same form, not symmetrical to the center spine, but as though they were a stack of individual sheets.

I was surprised that I approach the layout of my diary in the same manner, in this way, as a young lady did in 1993. But life is surprising that way.

She was so methodical and organized in the production of her diary …

… that the entry for May 20th already had all the essential elements in place, including the opening salutation and the circle for the day's grade, all waiting and ready to be filled in.

The whole thing speaks of the passion for living of a rather bright young lady who has an ordered mind besides.

She must have been a kick-ass young girl.

What she's released is here, at http://theamydiary.blogspot.com/.

09 June 2012

[logo] I Love Logo Design: Bird Is The Word

2840.Twittah, as most of you know, just engineered one subtle logo rework. And they're serious about it.

Via Logo Design Love, the birdie has a strict set of things you must not do to it. Actually, this is the soul of good logo practice; the graphic standards guide specifies how the owner wishes it best used. Owners right. However, being what it is, and the Internet wag society being what it is, there's going to be some savagely funny takedown going on, such as with Gawker, who interprets this "don't do it" graphic:

… into the following standards, respectively. You must not:

  • add a gray speech bubble next to the bird that makes it appear as if the bird is talking or smoking hookah
  • make the bird be upside down
  • reunite the bird with his bird family
  • change the bird to a better color
  • give the bird a small gray ledge on which to perch
  • transform the bird into a bubble letter "t" or the word "twitter"
  • give the bird eyes and legs and a song in his heart
  • make the bird look the way he used to even though no one would notice
The company also asks that users not manipulate the bird, because he trusts you and he's too young and beautiful to be hurt like that.

So, be nice to the bird. Because the Bird is the Word, or as Doug Bowman, Twittah's creative director, intones, Twitter is the bird, the bird is Twitter. 

Aummmm …

06 June 2012

[liff] The Bottle of Dandelion Wine has Gone Dry

2839.Summer is over; the man is no more, though the illustrations may endure.

Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012, aged 91.

It's a sad and big loss, but we are cheered inasmuch as he was one of the most celebrated and influential American writers of this modern age, and is roundly credited as:
elevating the often maligned reputation of science fiction. Some say he singlehandedly helped to move the genre into the realm of literature.
I wouldn't say he did it all by himself. But it wouldn't have happened without him. He was the prime mover. He made the world safe for authors such as Ellison and Lem and even Mieville. And now he ascends into the pantheon beside Hawthorne and Poe and suchlike, the heavenly panel of literary judges, and that is indeed precisely where he belongs.

It was Fahrenheit 451 that was, in a seminal germ, responsible for teaching me critical thinking. I'll tell y'all sometime (but it's perfectly possible I've already prattled about it sometime in the last 2,837 entries. It was a formative moment).

02 June 2012

[pdx] Connect The Freakin' DOTS, People!

2838.You know, with 24-Hour Banking across from 24 Hour Savings …

… if I didn't know better, I'd say the WinCo and the Key Bank over on NE 102nd Avenue in Gateway weren't conspiring for something. What it is, though … I have no idea.

Remember. the truth is out there. Or on there. Or in there. Unless it isn't. Maybe it's just the bottle return room. who knows.

01 June 2012

[type] Now, This Is A Bad Sign (#1 In A Possible Series)

2837.Time to inaugurate a new, random, occasional series here in The Times, and I'ma calling it Now, That's A Bad Sign. It's the continuing story of public signage that, but for an inattentive eye, became a silly joke.

Our first semiotic delinquent was found hanging out, taking up space, at the corner of SE 105th Avenue and Stark Street, on the east end of beautiful downtown Russelvillelandia. It was a No-Right Turn sign, because Stark Street is part of the one-way grid stretching from SE 108th Avenue to SE 78th Avenue, where they merge to become Thorburn Street and go over the shoulder of Mount Tabor.

Anywho, I saw what I thought was a sundog and tried to get a picture of it (didn't get a good one) and decided I liked the fresh air so I called The Wife™ on the phone and said "Huns, I'm enjoying it out here, can you come collect me when you come out of the Dollar Tree?"

"Sure," She said. "It should be about five minutes."

Twenty minutes later (don't ask) I began to get bored (there's only so much cultural resonance to the westbound traffic at SE 105th and Stark in Portland), and began to take a close old look at the back of the sign. Now, The CoP puts little stickers on saying when the sign was erected and warning you that if you're thinking of messing with the sign you should find some other hobby maybe, and I took a close look at it. And I read it. And it said this:

Reading is fun-da-mental, boyz and girlz. And this one read thuth:

It is unlawful to remove or detach any official road sign
or traffic control device punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.

So, presumably, if this was a sign not punishable by fine and/or imprisonment, then you could mess with it all you want. But, still, the question is raised:

Just what exactly is a "sign punishable by fine and/or imprisonment" anyway?

Punctuation and grammar. It's the difference between Let's eat, Grandma! and Let's eat Grandma!