Hello? July 2017


. Half-way through summer quarter. 265a (Applied Design) has been full of good stuff, and fun. 265c (Intro to VCD) needs some adjustments. I'm still invested in graphic design + media literacy, but my implementation (so far) isn't landing as the compelling and useful thing I'd imagined.

. . It's alright, I've got feedback to work with, and there's time to make changes. LtD

. . These students have been unusually difficult to get feedback from, and it's been frustrating for me.

. . Good or bad, I need to know how students are feeling about a class to keep us moving forward.

. Krisha Good™


. @vanishingseattle, disappearing Seattle places and culture

. “preemptive pessimism and skeptical tweets”

. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Not Good™

. “The very concept of selling out no longer even exists for most people, because marketing and branding and retail… have been reframed as creative endeavors.”


. Micro but Many, Micro Machines database

. Logobook, black and white logo database


. “Pro tip: do what works for you.”

. It's pretty difficult to say “design is [whatever]” or “[whatever] is design” and be wrong.

. Would I like to be in better shape? Sure. Am I willing to give up MOD Pizza and Taco Bell for it? Probably not.

. Director’s Series: Christopher Nolan #3

. . I think about the ‘escalation’ scene in Batman Begins quite a bit — as a metaphor for how our culture works generally.

. . Also intrigued by the idea that there wouldn't be a Joker unless there was a Batman first.

. . We read about this concept in grad school — that a design, once it's implemented, demands other designed responses from the world around it.

. . Just realizing: this is probably the genesis of LtD.


. draw.io, flowchart builder

. Teaching kids about design isn't really an existing career path. I know this. If career paths are designs themselves (where the goal is a job). And the job I want is new: then the design will be new (untested, uncertain), too.

. . It's helped to keep this in mind. But the last year has still been a little frustrating.

. . Am I limiting my opportunities personally (socializing, traveling, savings) (dating, too) by not following an existing career path? Feels like it, yeah.

. . It's cool, though. I'm confident I'll figure all of this out.

. . I always do.

. The Big Sick Good™

. . Q: “Do you want to stress eat?” A: “F••• yeah.”

. . Movies about parenting make me think.


. Making a mark

. . “These slogans presuppose that… the purpose of human beings is to leave some sort of sign that we were here.… As if making a mark is always a good thing.”

. I don't have any face-to-face mentors. But there are two people in the world whose work I feel especially connected to: Kirby Ferguson and Austin Kleon.

. Assassin’s Creed paper animation

. Seattle Video Voters’ Guide


. I have some of my best ideas for class on the bus ride to campus and on the walk between the bus and the Art building.

. . Today it was a user testing exercise for 265a that went really well.

. I want my classes to feel like they're actively being designed and redesigned themselves. Showing a willingness to improve, improvise, take feedback and run with it.

. I've started to see awkward social interactions as two-way streets (where before, I tended to feel like the one to blame). Whatever's causing the awkwardness (judgement, confusion, sensitivity), I think it's up to everyone involved to help diffuse it.

. . Which means that (as long as I've done whatever diffusing I can) the actual awkwardness doesn't bother me much anymore.


. First trips to Snoqualmie Falls and Twin Falls.

. It's always really good to have Omaha friends in Seattle.

. . Matt Heller is visting now.


. SuperSonics Jersey Hat

. Another bonus of teaching is that teachers tend to age out pretty late, so I should be able to continue teaching as long as I want. Versus the design industry, which swallows old people whole. Seriously: what happens to them?


. Picked up another class at UW (HCDE 308), this one in spring. Teaching in three quarters now.

. . The goal is all four, which would provide 1.  health insurance year-round, 2. enough income to pay the bills, but 3. still enough flexibility to teach middle school design classes somewhere, too.

. . A year ago, I wouldn't have thought this plan was feasible. But based on how well UW is going, and based on the jobs I've found in the search so far, it seems really damn feasible.

. Spider-Man: Homecoming Good™


. Kids named after Shaq now making names for themselves

. It might be possible to summarize LtD as: reflecting on the differences between intention and reality (since a design is a manifestation of intent).

. The power of creative constraints

. “your social interactions are where your statuses, roles, and [expectations] come together for… literally, the performance of your life.”

. Song to Song Not Great™

. Asked a friend (Ashley) this: Do you ever think a certain phase of your life might be over for good, in a bad way? Or do you see getting older and wiser as always better than what came before?


. I rely pretty heavily on feedback from students. I'm always asking, “How'd that go? Did you enjoy it? Was it confusing? Frustrating? What did you learn?”

. Personal project idea: interviewing students who weren't accepted to the UW Design program but pursued a design career in some other way.


. Coindexter's (a pinball barcade) is opening a block from my front door.

. . This is the life.

. An example of LtD from teaching: sometimes I'll pose a question or give instructions and students will respond in a way I hadn't expected. I take those as signals that: 1.  I didn't communicate clearly or 2. missed a potential perspective (or five). But the next time, I'll make some tweaks (using the new information) and usually be able to smooth it out.

. . In the fall, I teach two sections of the same class on Fridays, and it's a great opportunity for this.

. LEGO microscale modular road system

. Curbed Seattle: Tiny Homes blog


. A history of NBA players named Frank (my middle name)

. Students are still finding thoughtful, unexpected ideas for the Square + Circle (used it in 265a last week).

. . It's become the quintessential class exercise for me: 1.  easy to understand, 2. infinite variety, 3. clear, predictable insights to be gleaned, and 4. straight-up fun (for me, too).

. . I originally designed it for the first day of my first class (Concept Development at MCC in 2011).

. LEGO sets changed after they were released LtD

. Once students submit their first hands-on exercise/project, I tend to remember their names. The connection between names, faces, and work tends to stick.

. Elmedia Player and video downloader

. . I save videos quite a bit in the teaching/inspiration archive.

. I'm not a conspiracy theorist.

. Other People Good™

. Every Tuesday should be a holiday.


. Interviewed with three UW Design seniors (Dana, Sam, and Sahm) for their cool summer project on pursuing passions (professionally).

. . I mentioned this site as my main passion project now. Really, it's the biggest one of my life. And the biggest project of any kind (including client work and thesis). By miles.

. . I said that one of the goals of this site is to be an example of a person who doesn't have the answers. Especially a design professional who's still finding their way, changing their mind, and un-changing it back, 13 years into their career.

. The Myth of a Superhuman AI


. LEGO Creator Expert designer interview

. . LEGO released two versions of the VW Beetle just a few years apart: #1, and a way better #2.

. . “We learned a great deal in the design of [the first] Beetle as leaving so many studs exposed at that scale is not ideal…” LtD

. Interface design and our sense of time

. . “The time it takes to receive… a message is also part of its content.”

. . Berlin Syndrome Not Great™


. “progress [doesn't follow] a straight line.”

. . One red paperclip bartering strategy

. “Did he change, or did we decide to view him differently?” #basketballquotes

. The Beguiled Good™

. A recurring thought for 2017 has been: “Hello?” With 1.  the way people generally ignore each other in Seattle (The Freeze), 2. silence after job interviews, and 3. the general weirdness of communicating digitally.

. . I'm not lonely (I'm not even sure that's possible for me), but I certainly feel disconnected.

Learning through design June 2017


. Teaching is fun. Freelancing's a chore.

. Telling a Story from the Inside Out

. . “a story is as much a journey for the person writing it as it is for the characters in it.” LtD

. . “The mysterious thing about telling stories is that it ends up changing you. As a storyteller, the research that you do, the… focus on a theme that you're dealing with: it ends up seeping into your own system and changing the way you look at the world.” Pete Docter

. Why is LtD a unique kind of learning? Designing reveals our perspective, assumptions, priorities, biases, interests, expectations — our understanding of how the world works and our place in it. So, reflecting on a design is a chance to notice how that understanding aligns with reality. And learn from it.

. . I think. Still figuring this idea out.


. In 265a, as research for a branding deconstruction, everyone got to buy something at Starbucks. A win-win use of class fees.

. . This led to an interesting conversation about whether a national brand could ever really be genuinely ‘personal’ (providing identical experiences in lots of places). Good stuff.

. I say this to students pretty often: the best way to learn about typography is by studying print magazines.

. Communicating clearly and intentionally is hard work.

. My classes tend to be light on lecturing. Lecture classes can be done really well (TED Talk style), but I really believe in learning by doing.

. Designing class exercises feels like building little machines. Plug it in and watch it go. Hopefully in the direction I'd intended.


. Lecture In Progress, design/creative industry information for students

. . I'm skeptical of sites like this, which tend to set weird precedents for students by: 1.  feeling self-important, 2. interpreting design in one narrow way, or 3. being an oblique promotional device for a product. But this feels like a sincere resource for helping people find a place in the world professionally.

. When emoji miscommunicate

. Had pickled peppers for (I think) the first time. Great™


. In 265c, did our first deconstruction (looking at examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ graphic design and identifying the techniques/principles at work). Bad ass.

. . Tried a new presentation trick: a blank Google Doc that any student could drop examples into, immediately viewable to the whole class.

. . So simple! I've been looking for a way to do this for awhile. Learned it from students today and put it right to use.

. . Class days, like no other days I know of, really do meet the criteria of a Good Day.

. . I don't believe in fate or divine intervention. But I do believe I've found the thing I'm better at than anything else (teaching). And that it's the most satisfying possible thing I could be doing professionally.

. I'm a Xennial: neither Generation X nor Millennial.

. . Connects back to an idea I was thinking about earlier: being pre-Internet, but still Internet literate.

. Muppets are a remix. The word and the design are a combination of marionette (moving arms) and puppet (moving head).


. Watchmen and the 9-panel grid

. A super general instance of LtD is how the quality of a person's creative output tends to improve over time.

. . Examples: comparing Jim Henson's first Muppets or Christoper Nolan's first movie to the later versions.

. . 1.  Design a thing, 2. learn about yourself and the world through those decisions, 3. design an improved thing, making different decisions with that new information.


. I've been saying that the connection between middle schoolers and college sophomores is that they're both “in the middle”. Actually, they're both at the beginning: of adolescence and adulthood.

. . But (as pivot points between life stages) the sentiment is still true.

. I have about 1% patience for art now.

. LtD is not intentionally a job-search shtick. But, I'm thinking it'd be helpful to have one. For summarizing my approach to teaching and projecting some kind of ‘expertise’.

. Looking back, I'm wondering if #solveproblems was helpful in how quickly I found new opportunities after Oxide.

. Beatriz at Dinner Not Great™


. “I can't know [if the thing I'm working on is any good] until after I immerse myself in the work.”

. . learning through design

. . I could use an abbreviation: LTD, ltd, LtD, L⇠D?

. 47 Meters Down Not Good™

. The Hawthorne effect: when people “modify… their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.”


. I don't get why anyone still uses ‘www.’

. Mr. Rogers and the Power of Persuasion

. Added Christoper Nolan Batman to the LEGO minifig collection.

. How life expectancy works

. Compliance Good™

. I love how often Seattle or UW are mentioned in other things I'm reading/watching.

. . This week: #1 NBA draft pick Markelle Fultz (from UW).


. Did an exercise in 265a that I've wanted to try: students dissect an interview from Art of the Title to find examples of design process (goals, limitations, concepting, inspiration, feedback, prototyping, etc.).

. . It was solid gold. Love that site.

. Wrote a definition sheet for those words without feeling the need to use ‘problem’ or ‘solution’ once. That shift in my thinking over the last few years has been interesting.

. . In grad school, I picked up the word ‘approach’ as an alternative to ‘solution’. Which I like for being less definitive.

. I bought design265.info this quarter, using it to create short URLs for different stuff in class. It's working super well.

. . Also got design210.info for fall.

.Excited to head to (City) and join the (team name). Tissot is helping me get started with my (team name) watch.

. . Ha, snap! It's interesting how the goal of this post (to promote the watch) is revealed by being the only thing that can't be substituted with (whatever).

. Reflecting on a design process transforms that ‘finished’ design into a prototype — for all design experiences in the future.


. The Ringer Bachelor/ette recaps

. Baby Driver Good™

. . This is my kind of movie. It's self-aware: a movie about what makes a movie a movie. A movie's movie.

. Defender of the Favicon

. All three of my doctors (physician, dentist, optometrist) are women. Is it sexist to say that women are generally better than most things than men are?


. First day of summer classes.

. . The “What is Designed?” exercise in 265a was sweet. The prompt: find three things that you feel have been designed, anywhere on campus. The questions: 1.  How do you know this was designed? 2. What do these things share? 3. What makes them different?

. . It worked for getting right to the core of the class: that a thing is designed towards some goal, and that things are designed differently because they have different goals.

. I felt a lot less anxiety today compared to previous first days of class. Like a lot less. It's not entirely gone, but I feel pretty damn comfortable up there now.

. The more tired I feel, the worse I am at explaining things.

. Finished my final Film Streams newsletter.

. . This makes exactly 10 years, and it feels like a good time for the door to close.

. . I'm still working towards transitioning mostly to teaching (instead of freelancing) by the end of 2017.


. Deckset is the presentation-building app I was hoping for. It's removed so much of the angst between the ideas and the communicating.

. . Absolutely replacing InDesign for this. Stoked.

. . I really believe in this philosophy, of as little interface as possible. It's why I: 1.  use FoldingText for writing and tasks, 2. organize files and photos in macOS folders, and 3. run this site on Kirby.

. . It's so easy for the interface to become a thing on its own (a place for customizing, a layer of tech that can/will break, and proprietary formats that can/will be wall-off or made obsolete). All anxiety-inducing.


. Wrapping up summer class planning (265a/c). In distinct ways, each is shaping up to be (what sounds like) a fun class to teach and take.

. . Both classes are chances to prototype. With 265a, I can trial some learning through design. With 265c, new ideas I have for Color & Comp in the fall.

. Sold a big chunk (maybe half) of my LEGO collection for $1,900 (to a Craigslist buyer).

. . This is a big deal. I now own few enough things that my tiny apartment suddenly feels comfortable.

. . Part of the ongoing 2017 minimizing project. Drums, books, and LEGO are done. Video games and toys are underway.

. . It's been interesting, getting older and watching the stuff I collected in my 20s transition from a source of satisfaction to a burden.


. Bought learningthrough.design and learningthroughdesign.org

. . There won't be anything here for awhile (possibly never), but I'm feeling really good about the potential of this idea.

. It Comes at Night Good™

. I've gotten pretty good at parallel parking since the move.

. Discovered a bonus of using a standing desk in a tiny apartment: since there's no chair, all the space underneath can be used for storage. Nicej!


. LEGO Modular Modern Home

. . The dream (tiny) house.

. If You Build It

. When I have a big project approaching on the calendar (like summer classes), it's a useful opportunity for me to check off a bunch of small things. It feels good to clear the way.

. Interviewed for a makerspace assistant at (Evergreen) a private school, and I think it went well. I just laid it all on the table: I think I have a lot to offer, and I'm excited about this position. I'm ready. Let me loose. I'm the guy for the job.


. Spent 88 volunteer hours at BFI this school year.

. Emoji Lookup for LaunchBar


. USB-C to VGA/HDMI adapter + USB-C/A Double-Sided Flash Drive. Final gear for classes (starting next week).

. LEGO microscale castles in glass domes: Tall Castle + Seaside Castle

. . I love tiny environments.

. The Seattle No-Look Pass. Hello?


. Helped interview students for the UW Design Entrance Workshop.

. . It's inspiring to meet them at this stage. Where their interest is so clear, and their future as professional designers-of-something feels like only a matter of time.

. Thinking more about why I prefer teaching over the design industry. For me, classrooms tend to be about understanding things as they really are. Versus the design industry, which is often (but not always) about constructing the facade in the first place.

. Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King Good™

. The first thing to go when my calendar fills up is exercise.

. It took almost three years, but I finally have a Bachelor/ette friend (Aubree) in Seattle. Stoked.


. In July and August, I'm organizing a weekly Summer Personal Project workshop for the UW Design juniors.

. . Just realized that this workshop itself is MY summer personal project. Whoa.

. Dan Perrera website

. This week, I bought a TV and (later that same day) decided not to keep it.

. . And this was after agonizing research on choosing the right one.

. . Why? Basically: 1.  I was randomly selected to be a Nielsen ratings household (which'd be super cool), and I need a TV for that, but 2. I discovered how much I really don't want another big tech thing in my life.

. . Although this was time-consuming (researching, buying, setting-up, re-boxing, returning), only to end up (still) without a TV: having gone through those steps is not the same as not buying the TV at all. Now I know.

. . An example of learning through design.


. LEGO typefaces

. Amazon Smile Always Chrome extension

. . My Smile purchases donate to BFI.

. Batman: The Animated Series title sequence

. . This show is another touchstone from the middle school era that's stuck with me.

. Minimalism

. . I have a lot of life goals yet to reach, but I'm really happy with how meaningful it already feels. I have no shortage of ideas, direction, or purpose.

. . I'll almost certainly live in a tiny house some day.

. Another reason I'm drawn to the process (over the product): it's where the learning, growing, and changing happens.


. UW Design Class of 2017 Senior Show

. . Big fan of Rachel's project.

. . These undergrads' first day in the Design program (September 24, 2014 in Color & Composition) was also my first day as a grad student.

. . They've changed a lot, it's crazy.

. . Doesn't seem like that long ago. But now, many of them have full-on design industry jobs (or deserve to), and I'm teaching that class.

. At some point, I think I just have to be OK feeling like a weirdo. The alternative is living my entire life being anxious about it.


. “Hard to say, as I’m not really into making predictions at this time.”

. Deckset, Markdown-to-presentation app

. . Looking for a way to streamline presentation-building for class. Which is one thing about teaching (along with grading) that I really don't enjoy.

. inspiring.online, interesting web things


. When we say something was personally ‘influential’ in our past, I think we're really saying it helped us recognize something that was already there — an interest. Rather than spontaneously igniting a brand new thing.

. The Mummy Good™


. The Ringer Exit Surveys

. . “You could schedule a nap during the climactic battle of every single superhero movie and not only miss nothing, but come out better rested and more entertained.”

. . I really dread the climactic battle scene.

. Realized that I can print stuff at my neighborhood public library instead of driving to Kinko's.

. Tech things continue to frustrate (Kindle doesn't update New York Times consistently, GE C-Sleep bulb stopped turning on in the morning, wireless headphones only-sometimes control Spotify).


. Added ‘shtick’ to Notes on design. This was one of my favorite words for years before I really understood (or was able to articulate) how it connected to design.

. . For awhile, I owned schticky.com (and three variations) that I considered doing something-someday with. Instead, I sold them for $7,500 to the ShamWow guy (in 2011).

. Pixel art lessons


. “I used to be a guy who was experiencing the world. And now I feel like the world and the universe experiencing a guy.” Jim Carrey

. 5‑Minute Crafts, wacky-simple solutions

. . Cooking hacks

. v4.1 of this site.

. . Simplifying further: 1.  there's only one typeface now (instead of two), 2. only two text sizes (instead of three), 3. only two weights (instead of three), and 4. nixed the page border.

. . Why? I keep coming back to this idea: that a design with fewer decisions-made (fewer typefaces, fewer sizes, fewer elements) is more likely to feel more resolved for longer.

. . Each decision is an opportunity for mistakes, critique, tweaking, falling out of fashion.

. . This is just another way of talking about simplicity or normalcy. But I think it might be possible to quantify it in terms of decisions.

. “The best of The Wire was season 4.”


. Had a breakthrough: learning through design, tying together my favorite approaches to both teaching and design.

. . It works in two ways: 1.  learning about yourself through the decisions you make in a design process (reflecting), and 2. learning about the world by putting that bundle of decisions out there and watching what happens (observing).

. . Not my invention, by any means. But I think I can seam together a few existing design + education ideas, framed in a way that's totally accessible to kids.

. . Oh man! I think this might be it, the thing I've been working towards. Assembling notes for a longer write-up.

. The Blackcoat's Daughter Good™


. I'm a little worried that, by committing to teaching instead of the design industry, I'm leaving a lot of potential financial security on the table. And in the short term (while I'm only teaching and freelancing part-time), I'll continue to have very little of it at all.

. Been watching NBA Playoff games at a bar in my neighborhood. Having the confidence to sit at a bar alone is a very new thing in my life.

A dense metropolis May 2017


. LEGO Old Fishing Store

. Wonder Woman Good™

. CloudMounter app to use Dropbox and Google Drive without syncing

. Started making notes for an essay about digital anxiety.

. Got my book collection down to (I think) the core set I'll keep for awhile (35 books).

. . Mostly, favorite books from childhood and graphic novels.

. . It's a third of where I started at the beginning of the year — having since sold, donated, or digitized 75+ books. Feels good.


. Bought a ticket to see Mike Birbiglia live in November.

. . I love living in a city large enough that, if someone's on tour, they'll probably stop by.

. Use InDesign Quick Apply to style text with the keyboard


. Profile of a fringe scientist

. Tramps Good™

. Batman: Ego and Other Tails Not Great™

. Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Good™


. Moved the rest of the old journal posts here (2015 and 2016).

. . Already, there are things I didn't remember writing about or linking to. And that's in just two years.

. . I'm in this for the long haul, so looking back in 2067 should be pretty interesting.

. . Reflecting on change is so valuable. Noticing how thoughts, feelings, relationships, and goals transformed over time — retrospectively witnessing the process.

. . In this case: 1.  how thesis wove itself together from distinct ideas that (originally) didn't seem connected, and 2. how my job decisions evolved (in full circle) as I moved away from teaching and back again.


. Moving close to the gym has been so helpful in actually being there consistently.

. Did you see what I saw?, media literacy exercise on perspective and fact vs. opinion


. human brand: oxymoron?

. . No matter what qualities a brand communicates — and no matter how accurately it reflects the company/product behind it — there are always business objectives embedded with the designer's choices. In this case: desaturated colors, textured lines, and smiley faces communicate human-ness — but the primary goal is to sell Dropbox (by framing it as friendly and easy-to-use). It's true for every brand. That's not necessarily bad, but it's awkward, and ‘human’ (as a communication goal) makes that especially clear.

. . This write-up will be a great resource for 265c.

. . Ryan Putnam and Burnt Toast, illustrators

. Scientists explain one concept in five levels of difficulty: CRISPR + Connectome

. . Teaching requires being a responsive communicator. Not just yammering on, but listening, too.

. Palo Alto Good™

. . I'm fascinated by growing up: how we learn about life as we get older and the choices we make along the way.


. How Seattle temperature works (why it's great)

. On Thursday mornings, I've been helping with WrOBOT field trips at BFI — working with 4th/5th graders as they write a story in two hours. My job is to (simultaneously) type the story, seam students’ ideas together, encourage everyone to contribute, and help them negotiate the creative process overall. It's a blast.

. Talking to a UW Design senior (Kelly) about what she might do next, these are the things that've helped me find direction in life: 1.  journaling, 2. compiling (over a few years’ time) a list of qualities of the ideal job (without knowing what that job would be), 3. prototyping jobs quickly through volunteering and side projects, 4. sharing my work and process (which opened doors and helped me reflect).

. Louis C.K.: 2017 Good™

. I keep coming back to interests: that 1.  a clear, meaningful, unique picture of person sits at the intersection of whatever they enjoy, and that 2. those interests are examples of a person's passions and perspective, and so, suggest what they may be uniquely qualified to offer the world.

. . There's something here, probably with kids and future-planning. But I'm not sure what to do with it yet.

. Survivor: Game Changers Good™

. . A reason I enjoy this show so much is the design of the show itself — it's a simple system with complex and surprising variety. A fun sandbox.

. . I'd like to host something again.


. Norm Macdonald: Hitler's Dog, Gossip & Trickery Good™

. How to find your life’s purpose interview

. . “One of the things I always tell teachers is that you have a great opportunity to tell your students why you find teaching meaningful. Why is that your calling in your life?… The point isn't to convince students to become teachers themselves,… [but] to show young people what it is like for a grown-up to have a sense of purpose.”

. “Forget season 3 of Master of None. I'm also doing season 34 of Aziz Ansari.… Let me live a couple of episodes.”


. 180° Pivoting TV Mount IKEA Hack. Trying to figure out how to use one screen as both a monitor and TV.

. It can take me months (months!) of postponing to do things like scheduling oil changes and doctor's visits. (I finally did both this week.)

. Alien: Covenant Good™

. . There are few more satisfying moments of adulthood for me than seeing a movie in the middle of the day, eating a bunch of Peanut M&M's, and drinking as much Coke Zero as I want.

. Comparing the cultures of the Spurs and Warriors


. The Evergrey, Seattle events and issues newsletter

. When2meet, group meeting scheduler

. Indie Game: Life After

. Personal project idea: interview someone, and then interview them again a few years later about how they feel (now) about their responses in the first interview.

. I admire people with the confidence to give compliments to complete strangers.

. Sometimes I'll write something for this page only to decide I don't really believe it. It's a good test.


. psychological asymmetry: “We are continuously and intimately exposed to our own worries, hopes, desires and memories…. Yet when it comes to others, we are tightly restricted to knowing… [only] what they can or choose to reveal.”

. . “We grow boring and conventional, mimicking the externals of other people on the false assumption that this is what they might truly be like inside.”

. Everything Must Go Not Great™

. 72Pins, modern NES cartridges

. Changed the text on this site to black (from desaturated blue, from bright blue and red, from bright blue).

. . It's interesting how choices like this can feel like they communicate accurately… and then eventually they don't. Some choices here have started to feel like they're still trying too hard.


. “From the start, we are not self-inventing. We are born into a social context that forms the framework and the limitations of our self-knowledge.”

. Just noticed that the logo on Real Life Magazine fills in randomly each time. I like this kind of shtick (like the link colors here) — designed to do a thing, but giving up some control in exactly how it gets there.

. . Also Brian Eno's generative music apps

. Seattle weather is so much better than advertised. Despite the PNW's reputation, the midwest's barrage of extremes felt a lot more depressing to me.

. . This last winter was even Seattle's rainiest ever, and I hardly noticed.


. The final_final straw

. ScreenPrism film analysis video essays

. . Rom Cons: Problematic Romance Lessons

. . Inception: The Film is the Dream

. Nathan For You, management consultant


. “You call it procrastination, I call it thinking.” Aaron Sorkin

. . I'm a serious procrastinator. (On everything: preparing for class, freelance, emails, this site. You name it. Even things I enjoy.) For a few reasons: 1.  The extra time is reliably helpful in figuring things out. 2. I'm a perfectionist, and procrastinating allows me to postpone the anxiety and disappointment. 3. I could refine anything indefinitely, so starting closer to the deadline feels like a smarter use of my time. 4. I think the work is usually better for it.

. . When I was younger, I just instinctively procrastinated and felt ashamed of it. Now, it's an intentional part of my process. It feels like a healthy, productive relationship with my own mind. And I'm likely a procrastinator for life.

. Master of None² Good™

. I've always wanted to live in a city large enough to have national ad campaigns placed on the sides of buildings and buses.


. “People who are afraid of their feelings like to tell… predictable stories to explain everything that’s happened and everything that’s going to happen.”

. New email trend emerging: the “thanks for that info I asked for” non-reply. Did you even get that? You're welcome? Hello?

. LEGO Four Seasons modular vignettes


. Thngs, industrial design database

. The omnipresence of job-searching/switching is a whole new thing in my life since the move. Not just for me, but for so many of the people I know here.

. . It feels symbolic of the size, potential, and energy of this city. But the power dynamics (between employers and job-searchers) is a little weird.

. I'm part of the very last generation — in all of human history, past and future — who will clearly remember life before the Internet. Old enough to appreciate the differences, but young enough to actually make use of it.


. “people are layered and interesting, provided they’re given a voice to explain how.”

. New York Times for Kids (layouts)

. . It's an empowering thing to publish (or somehow physically realize) kids’ words and ideas.

. . At BFI, we print books on-the-fly during field trips. In high school, I was in an Omaha World-Herald workshop where we designed ads and printed a small newspaper.

. . NYT Learning Network, news literacy lessons

. “Assuming other people are focused on the same thing we are is at the root of many kinds of miscommunication.”


. I love living in a dense metropolis. I wanted to watch the Spurs-Warriors game today at a bar, and I have a bunch of options within blocks of my apartment.

. I'm just realizing that, since most of my wardrobe is black or gray, I'm usually perfectly dressed to watch a Spurs game.

. I'm so ready to move on to the next phase of my life. So ready.

. . What'll that look like? 1.  More money (for dating, socializing, clothes, less financial anxiety), 2. dating again, 3. a wider social circle, 4. a bigger apartment (for dating and friends), 5. finally finishing my minimizing projects, and 6. a job that feels like the payoff of my grad school adventure.

. It's been a good week for introspection.


. Posted Notes on design. This'll be the definitive place for outlining what design means to me, and it'll grow and change over time.

. . Collecting related ideas in one place really helps me think. I'm excited to finally have that file for design.

. . A lot of this is from grad school. But as a class, we weren't really talking about design in this way. We were reading the same papers, but each of us was on our own little design adventure, cherry-picking the ideas that resonated with us. Cool.

. . In fact, we were so much not talking about design in the way I'd hoped, it's the reason I started this site when I did (March 2015).

. Win It All Good™


. egosystem vs. ecosystem: “competition, power, and self-interest” vs. “cooperation, community, and care”.

. It's helpful for me to assume that Trump will eventually fail. Because he can't simultaneously be an everyman and a businessman. Or simultaneously a government outsider and the president. It's only a matter of time before he loses support from the people who thought those absurd contradictions were possible.

. The best thing about 2017 so far is finding my lane professionally. The plan is: 1.  keep teaching at UW, while 2. also teaching design/digital literacy to middle schoolers.

. . This was roughly the plan before grad school, too. But there've been some detours. In the last year, I've found confirmation that my heart is in the classroom and the design industry isn't for me.

. Riverdale¹ Good™

. I honestly don't understand how so many people have managed to assemble the elements of a ‘normal’ life.


. Q: “What will give you the edge…?” A: “Lots of things. It’s a game of mistakes, it’s a game of playing well, who knows?”

. . I could fill a website with of out-of-context basketball quotes that translate directly to real life.

. NBA Playgrounds video game

. . Some of the purest moments of joy growing up were playing NBA Jam. The dunks, cartoony giant heads, hidden characters, secret codes. I loved every part of it.

. . Basketball really became a thing in my life in middle school. And here I am, still totally into it.

. . So did graphic design.

. I'm noticing (volunteering at BFI) that people who are really good at working with little kids (elementary and younger) are essentially performing as they're teaching. Which just isn't a skill I have, and I'm cool with that.

. Enable speech-to-text on a Mac

. Class idea: Design vs. Media Literacy. Students design projects with secret goals that, then, other students try to decode.

. The BFI project at Denny Middle School has turned out feeling like the other ‘at-risk’ Seattle programs I've worked with. The students aren't particularly engaged (some not at all), and I'm not sure if much of it is resonating. I leave Denny most weeks indifferent and uninspired.

. . It feels selfish to say, but I'm only interested in working with students who are self-motivated and engaged. I think some teachers thrive in classrooms like this, but they aren't for me.

. Director's Series: Christopher Nolan #2


. Spending time this week getting organized digitally: 1.  sorting folders of inspiration (design, LEGO, illustration) that I've been dumping images into for years, and 2. reviewing leftover readings and research from grad school.

. . Man it feels good to finally get these done. Even digital clutter weighs on me.

. One of the trickiest things in life to differentiate — when you're excited about an idea that just isn't landing with other people — is: am I crazy? or am I really onto something?

. . More often than not, I think it's the second one.

. Fleabag¹ Good™

. . “That's the very reason why they put [erasers] on the end of pencils.… Because people make mistakes.”


. The insidious rise of the microcelebrity

. . “the democratization of fame via social media… is ultimately part of a heightened consciousness of everyday life as a public performance — an increased expectation that we are being watched, a growing willingness to offer up private parts of the self to watchers known and unknown, and a hovering sense that perhaps the unwatched life is invalid or insufficient.”

. Chuck Not Great™

. . A compelling question, though: how does making a movie about someone's life, after it's released, change the course of that life?


. Decided it was time to start assembling my earthquake emergency kit (in case of The Really Big One).

. EarPod Covers

. Director's Series: Christopher Nolan #1


. Sonics Arena project. It's getting real!

. . Two of my life goals are to 1.  live in a city with an NBA team, and 2. have season tickets.

. furniturisation: “the tendency of everyday objects to be transformed by consumer culture into self-conscious 'designs'.”

. Fuller House² Good™

. . I'm really impressed with how creatively well-resolved this show is. For what it aims to be, it's perfect.

. The World's End Not Great™

. Presentation remote + laser pointer. Gearing up for class (starting next month).


. That first warm day: “it remains an unalloyed fact: The days will lengthen. The ground will thaw. The sun will come. The trees will bud,… and you will be released from that persistent fear that you might not make it.”

. Offscreen Dispatch, digital recommendations newsletter

. Kap screen recording app

. Another reason I like teaching the sophomores at UW is that it's really the last, pure moment before the industry takes hold.


. Building presentations is one of my least favorite things to do.

. . It can be a helpful step, for sure, in figuring out how to communicate an idea clearly. But that often feels offset by the distracting layer of graphic design choices embedded in slides.

. . Some day, I'll present ideas with a just a FoldingText file and images in folders.

. When Objects Fail

. . “a shiny object… is a ‘lie’ in its concealment of all the actors or interests that gathered together to form [it].”

. . “When things stop working…, intentions, motives, and negotiations reveal themselves bare faced behind the objects and facts.”

. . A major bonus of teaching at UW is getting to keep my access to the library, which is legit.

. . Dense, academic writing really irritates me. Do you want to help people to understand, or not?

. I'll be freelancing for awhile longer, which is fine (I'm glad to have it as an option). But I'll be ready — when the right teaching spot is available — to cut this cord.


. Cards Against Humanity: Design Pack

. . Is this intended to be ironic? Contemporary graphic design is so shellacked with BS, how would anyone differentiate the ironic and sincere versions? Graphic designers have gotten themselves into a real pickle here.

. Dictionary Story: Chin Up

. Font of the Month Club


. Washington Teaching Artist Training Lab

. . Maybe applying for this. I'd like to fill some time during the job search with new and interesting ways to keep teaching.

. The Great Perils of Social Interaction

. . I hate the whole handshake/hug decision. I avoid hugs generally. I don't know how to do cool handshakes. I hate the awkwardness of leaving small groups and I'll usually stay longer than I want to because of it. I won't try to stop anyone from paying the bill. I don't say “bless you”.

. I think about the Your Life in Weeks post on Wait But Why a lot. It was a fundamentally perspective-shifting way of looking at my life.


. Their Finest Not Great™

. Selfie: The revolutionary potential of your own face

. . “Hugely instructive conversations can come out of asking a person why they posted a particular selfie on a particular day.”

. . Selfies are media literacy + everyday design.

. Catastrophe³ Good™

Of what? April 2017


. Rogue One vs. The Force Awakens

. . I like this format: critiquing two things at the same time — identifying strengths and opportunities while always having access to an alternative example.

. The Brand Called You: The CEO of Me Inc.

. . From 1997. Super gross and truer than ever.

. . The awkwardness of personal branding, for me, hinges entirely on intention — the design. Are you “teaching a class at a community college” because you, primarily: 1.  want to be helpful, or are you 2. “enhancing your profile”? These are very different things.

. . Anyone should be asking the same question of this site.

. . Why does personal branding bother me so much? Because if we embrace the idea that every interaction with a person is just a potential sales opportunity, how do we know what's real? How do we know who to trust?

. Confidence

. . “Such are the pains people take to appear normal, we collectively create a phantasm – problematic for everyone – which suggests that normality might be possible.”

. . “The way we enter the world carries with it an inherent bias towards an impression that history has been settled.… History, we feel, is what used to happen; it can’t really be what is happening around us in the here and now.”

. Drinking Buddies Good™


. Working on moving more of the old journal posts over here. I'm happy with how easy it is to update this site now (thanks to Kirby).

. Sleeping With Other People Not Great™

. They Look Like People Good™

. HAIM: Right Now music video


. “the interface of this app is not the screen of your device but your life itself.”

. Just realized this: my angle on teaching is learning (about yourself, other people, the world) through the process of designing (building/creating/making) a thing.

. . Seems obvious, but this is the first time I've tried to articulate it.

. Many of my clearest thoughts happen in the midst of conversations with friends — just having someone who cares asking questions.

. If all else fails, I'll work at The Container Store.

. I really appreciate how reliably enthusiastic Seattle bus drivers are about their jobs.

. A secret lair layer.

. I might actually prefer not-having a full-time job for awhile longer. I could use more time to complete some big, anxiety-inducing personal projects: 1.  selling my video game collection and a bunch of LEGO sets, 2. reducing my book/Instapaper queue, and 3. generally minimizing digitally and physically. This stuff weighs on me.

. . An opportunity cost of a full-time job is having less free time. And I love my free time.


. Vibes are an important factor in my decision-making.

. . Interviewed at Evergreen, and the vibe feels way off. Compared to Lakeside (for example), it feels less modern, less welcoming, less genuine — out of touch.

. . I got the impression that they don't really get what I'm up to. Which is absolutely a trend — in grad school and the job search. It's been difficult: feeling so convinced of a perspective on design and teaching that's only rarely resonating with professional designers and teachers.

. . But, I'm getting better at holding onto my confidence in these ideas moving on.

. In the job search, I probably won't be willing to give up teaching at UW. It's at the top of its game, I love the students, I'm proud to be there, and I'm planning to stick around for awhile.

. Always awkward: video chats.


. @thedesignprofs, UW Design faculty quotes

. Is life all downhill from here?

. . “by the time you really do face all of the terrible things you’re imagining, you might not feel like the same person who is sitting here today.”

. . What an idea. That having lived through something might actually be the thing that prepares you for dealing with it.

. UW Fail Forward: Leaders Panel, respected faculty/staff talking about their failures (i.e. un-idealizing their bio and reading embarrassing student feedback). This was awesome.

. . I'm really inspired by the faculty and stuff at UW. They're all so good at their jobs.

. In the last few years, I've intentionally found opportunities to be in different kinds of classrooms and with different age groups. Big lessons from that: I'm not a very good or confident teacher unless: 1.  I have the chance to get to know my students over time, 2. students are interested in the material, and 3. they're making something.

. “I gotta twist your arm to hold your hand.”

. I'm deeply resistant to the idea that anything popular isn't worthwhile.


. “The single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can to prepare the next generation… to take up the baton….” The man, Obama

. . At 37, I feel like I'm solidly on the other side of… something. It's a place where I can see things I didn't see when I was younger, and where I feel like I have a fair amount of control over my life. Looking back, that transition feels mostly a matter of just knowing and experiencing more things — not necessarily age. I think I could've gotten here earlier with more guidance. And I feel a responsibility to help younger people get there too.

. Here's a typical Seattle Freeze thing to do: If I'm standing somewhere and happen to be an accidental barrier to something someone needs (like today, a backpack on the floor), they'll often just grab it without saying anything. So weird.

. Iverson or Hardaway: Who's King of the Crossover?

. Applied for a teaching position at The Evergreen School. I'm less excited about this one than the (nearly ideal) Lakeside job I applied for in February. But still, this could be good. And it's encouraging to know similar jobs might be more common than I expected.


. UW Teaching & Learning Symposium

. . Teachers, generally, are the best communicators I know.

. Got an Alaska Airlines Credit Card. Pretty sure I'll be able to get back to Omaha for free from here on out.


. Finished the Teaching page.

. . I'm stoked about the idea that this is my portfolio now.

. . Every time I build any kind of portfolio anything, it's shocking how much time it takes to build images and write descriptions. Every time. Shocking. (This was probably 8 hours, and most of the text was already written.)

. Black Mirror³ Not Great™


. myNoise background noise generator

. Everything video game

. . “wherever you are, and whoever you are, and whatever you are: you're in the middle.… Your senses extend a certain direction, in all directions, and therefore give you the impression of being in the middle. (Because the definition of a person is where you look from.) Everything in the world feels like that.” Alan Watts

. Alan Watts lecture collection

. As I get older, I've started to recognize new connections between the things I've been curious about for… ever.

. . An example: between self-centeredness and design process — how our natural tendency to ignore other people's perspectives can be overcome by actively seeking feedback.

. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Good™


. Intentions vs. goals. No matter the vocabulary, being somehow purposeful in your own decision-making is design.

. . For me, the word ‘goal’ seems to connect with the most people in capturing whatever that purpose/intention/objective/preferred-situation may be.

. “Q: Who designed the website? A: I helped it.”

. Passengers, Rearranged

. Introduction to media theory animations


. “people [on Facebook are] less willing to post updates about their lives as their lists of friends grow.”

. At BFI, helped two middle schoolers with autism write a story. I really enjoy being a part of this kind of exercise, seeing students negotiate a collaborative creative process: their confidence (or not) in contributing ideas, their compromises and disagreements. Good stuff.

. The word ‘founder’ — and the startup-y focus on communicating “I'm a person who started a business” — feels pretty gross to me.

. Resolved an important lingering thought about grad school. The reason that my interactions with one faculty member (Tad) were so anxiety-inducing for me was that, in his classes, learning was embarrassing. Which is a shameful way for any classroom to feel.

. . What a prick.


. Writing six-word stories with BFI at Denny Middle School. A fun, easy exercise in the power of limitations. That also highlights how different people can interpret the same thing differently. Examples from today: 1.  “I called you my best friend.” and 2. “Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. BOOM.”

. First trip to the Seattle Bouldering Project.

. . Even if I try a new thing and I'm not into it, I still tend to enjoy having-experienced it. It's interesting to me that people are interested in [super-specific sub-culture] in the first place. And the way things are designed in response to that super-specific environment (in this case: how the chalk bags seal themselves by twisting closed, or how the color of the hand/footholds indicates the difficulty).


. Trend List, graphic design trends blog

. Colossal Not Great™

. Honey Hole Sandwiches


. Northwest Association of Independent Schools. For the (middle school + design/digital-media) job search.

. So far, it really feels like 2017 is going to be the year when it all comes together.


. I almost always regreat agreeing to freelance over the weekend.


. “From the age of 6 I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs.… When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself.… At 110, everything I create — a dot, a line — will jump to life as never before.” Hokusai

. FlipBooKit handcrank animation machine

. Maybe the biggest reason I love Seattle is the potential. It feels like so many of my goals are within reach here.

. . Potential, abstractly, is one of the driving forces of my life. It's why I cruise IMDb to see what movies are on the horizon. And why I love teaching and design.

. Everyone is a designer. Totally, yes. But I think this essay is misleading. It's trying to zoom out on the definition of design (which I appreciate), but it's still narrowly using the word ‘design’ as a synonym of just one kind of design (digital product design).

. . For me, “Everyone is a designer” means potentially everywhere, all the time. A person making a sandwich is designing.

. M&M's Bite-size Beats

. Little Dicky: Pillow Talk music video


. When anyone says “I'm a designer,” I think the appropriate response is: “Of what?”

. Am I Normal? card game

. “Cynicism and tribalism are among the gravest human temptations.”

. Djokson, LEGO character builder

. It continues to baffle me how a small shift in my confidence in any situation seems to affect the outcome (teaching, any conversation, conversations with women, boxing). I wish I'd figured this out when I was younger.

. The Fate of the Furious Not Great™

. . My favorite thing about these movies is that they've stuck to their central limitation: anything cool that happens must involve a car. The limitation makes it what it is.

. 18th century modular handwriting robot


. New Minnesota Timberwolves logo

. . Although, there's some BS here (e.g. “The… wolf is facing forward because we want to honor the past we are proud of, without forgetting it.”)

. . I think branding BS is intended for the client, to give them a sense of having gotten their money's worth.

. . What is branding BS? Maybe… any rationalization that sounds credible, but the design doesn't actually communicate those ideas (independently of designer's explanation).

. . RARE, sports logo design studio (also responsible for the New Orleans Pelicans, which I think is top notch).

. Getting back to Seattle, boxing was the thing I looked forward to most.

. Omaha friends recharge my confidence.

. I won't ever have a tombstone, but if I did, I wouldn't mind if it read: “He wasn't full of shit.”


. {>} Seattle

. . I didn't see everyone I wish I could've on this trip. But that was intentional, the opportunity cost for actually enjoying these vacations. I'll catch them next time.

. . I drove 275 miles in Omaha in the last four days. In Seattle, I drive ≈ 125 miles/month.

. For me, ‘award-winning’ and ‘online backlash’ are meaningless designations.

. Thinking about why I keep coming back to teaching. It checks the most important intangible job boxes for me: 1.  it's engaging/fun/satisfying/worthwhile (I get a lot from it), and 2. I feel suited to do it (I have a lot to give).

. Added two LEGO minifigs to the collection: a gray Monofig and Seattle SuperSonic Gary Payton.


. Got a Round & Round Notable Banter book, which feels like a real treasure.

. Sometime over the last year, I hit the tipping point where Seattle feels more like home than Omaha.

. . Omaha's changed quite a bit since I left (2 ½ years ago). A feeling based mostly on (weirdly) stores and restaurants that've opened, closed, or moved.

. Driving through Elkhorn, I hit a coyote and probably killed it. The first time I've ever hit an animal that size.


. Turn signals (blinkers) are proactive communication.

. It's tricky to talk about why I like Seattle without comparing it negatively to Omaha (weather, mentality, culture, opportunity, religiousness).

. There's too much eating on my trips to Omaha. Feeling pretty gross.


. Based entirely on vibes, I think most people probably don't get this site (which is cool). But with the people that do, it's been a meaningful filter for starting and maintaining the realest of connections.

. I miss shopping at Target.


. Radical candor (care personally + challenge directly). The same approach as the teaching concept of the ‘warm demander’.

. Does ‘third time's the charm’ indicate something special about having two rounds of feedback?


. I think a reason I like RSS so much is that — since it collects all the things I'm into (pop culture, design, movies, basketball, longform journalism, LEGO, etc.) in one place — it's a constantly-renewing opportunity to remix ideas.

. People in Omaha make more eye contact with strangers than people in Seattle. No doubt about it.


. {>} Omaha

. Brave private web browser

. “meanwhile, a huge amount of faith is put in technology, which fails constantly.”

. A bonus of using Kirby for this new site is that I can edit it offline when I'm traveling (since the pages are just text files).


. Michael Bierut on designing the Clinton campaign logo

. . “It isn’t pleasant to have [people] making fun of your work…. It was just some simple geometric shapes and a couple of primary colors, yet it seemed to drive so many people crazy. My wife… put things in perspective: ‘Maybe this isn’t really all about your little logo.’”

. . Anymore, I'm pretty skeptical of the value of branding. But 1.  I'm still interested in how text and images can communicate thoughts and feelings, and 2. I like logo design as a kind of puzzle. But 3. I think justifications of branding decisions trend towards bullshit, and 4. it all feels a little manipulative. I'm also disappointed by the way branding exposes our tendencies to: 5. resist change and 6. value container over content.

. . The negative reaction to our branding of Big Omaha 2012 is one of the big 3–4 moments of my graphic design career that switched the light off for me.

. Nike SB Check Solar Suede Sneakers

. . Buying shoes really stresses me out. I try to own as few as possible, so the ones I own need to be usable in most times/places. And finding the right ones can be tricky.


. Adhesive banana hook. Saving some counter space.

. . Hacking the tiny apartment for maximum efficiency is a pretty fun, ongoing project.

. Little Big Lies Good™

. It's been interesting, getting older and recognizing how much I'm like my dad (being naturally pretty selfish) and grandpa (being sensitive and angry about it). Except that, somehow, I'm also able to: 1.  see the effects and 2. want to change. Maybe, only because I recognized those behaviors in them first.


. Untitled Sans & Serif, not special typefaces

. . Post-rationalization: finding justification for decisions after they've been made — “an open secret in the design industry.”

. “Special is generally less useful than normal, and less rewarding in the long term.”

. Didn't realize that Jasper Morrison designed the Punkt MP01 Mobile Phone, which I've considered switching to multiple times.

. About page posted.

. . Jesse and I decided once that an About page maybe dilutes the credibility of a journal site (mixing personal and professional). I still agree, but professionally, this feels necessary.

. The double-twist Tribal Council on Survivor

. . I see so many parallels between this show and teaching: 1.  engineering exercises, 2. guiding people on a path to their goals, 3. opening up discussions about decision-making, 4. providing on-the-fly feedback and commentary, 5. incentivizing the best in people.


. Caleb's lo-fi animation technique

. Figured out my problem with April Fools’ Day: the Internet has turned it into a day about disappointment (good news isn't true). Pre-Internet (in my experience anyway), it was a day about relief (bad news isn't true). It was a reminder of how good you've got it.

. Designing for shareablity: “what might be best for the… product may not match what is favorable in terms of making it a… viral hit.”

. How to Be a Good Teacher

. . “Every one of us, whatever our occupation, needs to become a good teacher, for our lives constantly require us to deliver crucial information with grace and effectiveness….”

. . “[Good teachers] admit that they are, in most areas of life, pretty ignorant and stupid.”

. . “Good teachers know that everyone has a lot to learn and everyone has something important to impart to others.”

. . “the more desperate we feel inside, the less likely we are to get through to others effectively.”

. The Discovery Not Good™

Be the thaw March 2017


. How to Narrate Your Life Story

. . “Mistakes do not have to be absurd; they can be signs of how little information we have on which to base the most consequential decisions.”

. . Mistakes are a form of feedback.

. . “No one gets anywhere important in one go. We can forgive ourselves the horrors of our first drafts.”

. . This was an essential lesson from grad school: learning to embrace the awkwardness of showing half-resolved ideas. That a draft of something (usually a few half-somethings), shown to someone for feedback, is better than trying to resolve any of it on my own first.

. The behind-the-scenes experience of a thing coming-to-be is often pretty different than the version that's communicated afterward.

. . A major reason I originally decided the design-pro world isn't for me is feeling uncomfortable with this contrast — between 1.  the frequent (and totally natural) frustrations of designing things for other people (at Oxide) and 2. the idealized, frustration-free project page at the end.

. It's so nice to have a place to put things like this.

. NBA torrents. I can't watch NBA games on ABC or ESPN without cable, and I think that's dumb.

. For me, the connection between design process and life is in the questions: 1.  Who am I? 2. Who do I want to be? 3. How do I get there?


. Approaching the end of a (productive and good but) unusually stressful week. Soon, a movie theater will be visited. Bags will be punched and ropes jumped. Junk food will be eaten.

. Life Not Great™

. . I love something-happens-to-a-few-people-in-space movies. Even if RT suggests I'll be disappointed, I'll probably see it.


. A major, unexpected bonus of grad school was that, as a TA in Color & Composition and Typography, I learned a lot of new stuff about color, composition, and typography.

. First day volunteering with BFI at Denny Middle School.

. . These are the kinds of opportunities that a freelance schedule leaves room for, and I do really like that about it.

. I get a real confidence boost talking to the UW Design undergrads.


. LEGO Ideas Test Lab: 4th Build Challenge

. . I love this setup (for everything, not just LEGO): 1.  here are the elements you have to work with, 2. here are the rules of this system/series… now 3. make a new thing that fits.

. I've just about got my mojo back (I'd say I'm at 95%). I haven't felt this good personally or this confident in my goals professionally since I left Omaha.

. It's a bummer that there probably won't be a Tron 3.


. I think it might be possible to define ‘technology’ as: a thing that works, at best, only most of the time. If it works all the time, it's something else.


. “you just have to trust that people who torture others also torture themselves.”

. Half the fun of building my own website is in the tweaking (solving little problems, making tiny adjustments, building it up over time). It's so satisfying.

. . This week, figured out how to show the link colors in the sidebar only on the pages where they're needed.

. Building seamless patterns in Illustrator

. Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive Good™

. Mike Birbiglia: Thank God For Jokes Great™

. . This follows two patterns of things I connect with: 1.  all of the pieces are framed by a larger, unifying thing (the whole show fits between the setup and punchline of a single joke), and 2. it's meta (many of the jokes are about jokes).


. Steal Like An Artist Good™

. . “And then one day someone will steal from you.” Coppola

. . “when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.”

. . “It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to.”

. . “Copying is about reverse-engineering.… Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style.”

. . “it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.”

. . “Conan O’Brien tried to be David Letterman but ended up Conan O’Brien.”

. . “I have stolen all of these moves from all these great players. I just try to do them proud,… because I learned so much from them.… It’s a lot bigger than me.” Kobe Bryant

. . “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” Aiken

. . “What we respond to in any work of art is the artist’s struggle against his or her limitations.” Steinberg

. . “One day, you’ll look back and it will all make sense.”

. Kitsch&Tea logo

. It's easy to be upset with my new neighbor because he's awake when I'm trying to sleep. But someone is always awake when someone else is trying to sleep. He's just a dude living his life.

. . I do tend to get plenty of reading done when I can't sleep, though.

. FTP Alias drag-and-drop uploader.

. . I can now update this page on the server in five keys: ⌘ + Space + J + Tab + Enter (activate Launchbar + select Journal.txt + send to FTP Alias). Boom.

. Fruitvale Station Good™

. “Coming never.”


. Trainspotting 2 Good™

. Having 100% weekend downtime is a measure of a good life for me.

. . This weekend, I'm working on a freelance project for Studio Matthews. The $1,200 I'll earn feels only barely worth a lost weekend.

. As a graphic designer, on paid projects, the fun of finding a satisfying solution doesn't always, anymore, outweigh the stress of needing to find it.

. . Teaching is stressful for me too, but comparing these two things, teaching feels worth it. For most graphic design projects, the stress usually feels artificial.


. Been journaling here for two years. It continues to be an essential exercise in making sense of thoughts and feelings. (Still working on getting the rest of the posts moved over.)

. Another problem with social media: disembodied words and actions are so easy to be upset by. It's harder to be upset with someone you can see/hear — negotiating their life, in real time, just like you.

. . I had this thought when I figured out my new upstairs neighbor is an old guy, which makes it harder for me to be frustrated by the whole thing.

. Catastrophe² Not Great™

. Freeze update: I'm finding if I'm willing to initiate the thaw, people are pretty receptive to it. Be the thaw.

. I don't think I'll ever know what it's like to be rich, and that's disappointing.


. Prayer is a form of journaling. A way of articulating thoughts, feelings, and goals.


. Daniel Gray graphic design blog

. Midnight Marauder, movie poster designer

. “I don't care how good you are [at what you do]… you're gonna be a fan one day. Even Michael [Jordan]'s a fan now.”

. “Unlike facts, which can be accurate or inaccurate, narratives have winners and losers.”


. Went skiing for the first time.

. . Skiing is a rare thing where you can see people learning and failing out in the open. And where kids and adults are learning together.

. . Pretty consistently this year, I've had fatherhood on my mind. Watching Louie sent it into high gear. And moments like today, seeing parents skiing with their kids. I really think I want that.

. Got the Sparano Scale and Great™s pages moved here.

. . I've spent way more time on this new site than I expected. Despite its straighforwardness (which was a goal), I've invested 80+ hours over two months in graphic design and code.

. Wondering if the second-from-the-top floor of an apartment is maybe the worst floor (noise-wise) because my upstairs neighbor doesn't know what it's like to have an upstairs neighbor.

. . I had no idea MY floors weren't soundproofed until now.


. A problem with social media is that it's so easy to interpret messages out of context — because there's so little context to be had. The gears of Twitter/Instagram/Facebook are greased by limited information and limited understanding.

. The cool man vs. the warm man

. . The warm man “has done stupid things,… he has made [dumb] decisions. [But] his weaknesses have made him immensely generous to others.”

. Pegboard shelf wall

. Designing machines we can't understand

. The electric environment: where “everything happens at once. There’s no continuity, there’s no connection, there’s no follow-through. It’s just all now.”

. Daniel Savage, illustrator/animator

. I think people use the word ‘design’ sometimes when they really mean ‘graphic design’… but what they really-really mean is ‘illustration’.

. Khalid × Brasstracks: Whirlwind Great™

. Catastrophe¹ Good™

. ColorHexa, Hex color encyclopedia

. Trainspotting Not Great™


. Diff Checker tool to compare two text files

. “Pay attention to what you pay attention to.” Rosenthal

. Personal Shopper Not Great™

. . Starting today, there's a new movie I'm excited about every week through summer. It keeps me going.

. Any Friday night with new videos from Lessons from the Screenplay, Nerdwriter, and CineFix is a special one.

. Blue Jay Good™

. Tinashe: Company music video


. Kermerling. That guy. Always looking out for other people.

. “You can be our life teacher.” UW Design sophomore

. Teaching is it for me. I can't believe (especially since grad school) that I considered anything else (design research, UX, full-time freelance, bailing out completely).

. . What changed my mind? It was 210: 1.  teaching my own class again (vs. TAing) means getting to design projects and watching them unfold, and 2. meeting a new group of great students and seeing them start to put the pieces together for themselves. There's nothing better.

. . I'm glad I considered those other things, though. It's so valuable for me to get as close as I can to see how I feel when I'm there. (UX, especially, isn't for me, and I'm happy to know that.)

. . Returning to where I started (teaching) doesn't feel like wasted time.

. . Two downsides of teaching (part-time at a university, anyway) are 1.  there's no team to belong to professionally, and 2. it doesn't pay particularly well. These are the big reasons I considered a corporate design gig.

. . Although, (thanks to the Lakeside blip) I think teaching in a middle school could provide both of these things, which is exciting.

. I love office supply stores.

. “What would Mr. Rogers do?” is a pretty useful trick for me to get my ego out of the way during a disagreement.


. Officially signed up to teach a second class this summer at UW: Intro. to Design Process (265a). Unofficial subtitle: learning to design anything.

. . I spent a few weeks deciding whether to take on a second class. But I couldn't-not do this. It's a legit opportunity to engineer exactly the kind of thing I want to be teaching from here on out. Should be fun, too.

. . Stoked about this. Feels like a beginning.

. “problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have always known.” Wittgenstein

. “[Schools] teach us everything other than the two skills that really determine the quality of adult life: knowing how to choose the right job for us and knowing how to form satisfactory relationships.”

. I'll usually conclude a disappointing story (like not-getting a job) with: “It's part of the process.” Which maybe sounds like an on-brand shtick. But it's really what I'm thinking.


. Another thing about email: because it's not live, two-way communication, I feel like I need to cover all the potential ways the conversation could go at once, which is hard work.

. Love² Good™

. . Can't get enough of movies and TV about the complexities of relationships.


. A reason I like teaching so much is that, in classrooms, bullshit tends not to get anyone very far.

. I like having seagulls around, those little chubby dudes are a constant reminder of living on the coast.

. Personally and professionally, I've been in a (welcome and totally worthwhile) holding pattern since grad school. But I'm just about over it and ready to get serious about both.

. During fall quarter (October – December), I was eating a lot of junk food and stopped boxing. So far this year, I've been eating better and boxing regularly. And this week, I finally feel really good again. It took 10 weeks to get here. I've gotta remember that next time I want to take a break.

. LEGO Bugatti Chiron


. Popular Lies About Graphic Design Not Great™

. . Things I wish would've been debunked in this book: 1.  that all graphic design is important, 2. that anyone but graphic designers and the client cares much that [whatever] was redesigned, 3. that it's possible to meaningfully critique graphic design without having been part of the process, 4. that the tiny details truly matter, 5. that portfolios aren't highly idealized, 6. that a goal of all graphic design is to be ‘beautiful’.

. . “I can't imagine a worse situation than having [graphic] designer's hold sway over every aspect of our visual world. Beauty and order and understanding often come from mistakes, spontaneity, and things unplanned.”

. . “A designer with only a few tools to choose from will make better choices.”

. design: “the formal imprint of discernible intent in an otherwise chaotic realm of phenomena.”

. . It's interesting that design lends itself to so many definitions. Why? What about design makes this possible?

. Good Will Hunting Not Great™


. Readdd + Little Big Details + Gridness. Why do so many design-pros abandon their side projects? (I've done it too.)

. I continue to be interested in design as a small, personal thing. Maybe the smallest, most personal of things. (Rather than a commercial thing or a big-systems thing.)

. The rectangular stick figure technique [pdf]

. . In this summer's classes, I'd like to do some exercises to help students feel comfortable sketching and sharing. The “I can't draw” anxiety is totally understandable, but it can be a serious barrier.

. Still working through my book/comics collection (donating, selling, scanning, or recycling most of them). Some read, but most just skimmed. And these are the books I already decided were worth bringing from Omaha.

. . There are books I still want to keep physically. But in the end, I'd like to end up with ≤ 25 books (20% of what I started with). I'm so looking forward to being freed from a significant and really dumb burden of stuff. And for what's left to be a meaningful collection of things I've actually used and specifically decided to keep around.

. . This all boils down to (at 37) no longer feeling that there's a future version of me — a guy who has way more time than I have now — that will read these books (and play these video games and build these LEGO sets).

. And getting rid of most of my stuff feels like an essential step in getting to the next phase of my life.


. BLOCKS mini modular music studio

. “When I exercise, I also have more ambition. I cultivate my inner world more…. I’m more interesting to be around.… I'm open to everything that comes my way.”

. . For me, the value of exercising is at least as much about having chosen a more challenging thing, for my own sake.

. . In my life, better choices tend to reinforce more of the same. And the opposite. They're all linked together.

.The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.Faulkner

. David Letterman's last Late Show Top Ten

. . I think about Conan's Tonight Show goodbye pretty regularly.

. I think I've made peace with the Lakeside situation. I've been thinking maybe I lost out because I took too long to apply (9 days, mostly to give my cover letter some real thought). But it's really more likely that they just found someone better for the job. Which I'd be cool with.

. . Still really disappointed this didn't work out, though. Knowing now that this kind of opportunity is out there, it's exactly what I'm looking for.


. Setting four goals for this year: 1.  be a person in Seattle, 2. start making enough money not to worry about it, 3. with more of it coming from teaching than freelancing, and 4. minimize my stuff to only the things I really love and use.

. What writers really do when they write


. Bullshit and legitimacy

. . “If people aren’t thinking critically about their media consumption, that is partially their own fault — but isn’t it much more the fault of those who underfunded education?… What is casting a vote for Trump compared to enabling the phenomenon in the first place?”

. Three hours is too much Bachelor. I'd watch at least twice that.

. InDesign script to cleanup multiple text errors

. I'll probably always love the toy aisle.


. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with feeling that, sometimes, the available elements just don't lend themselves to a design that feels satisfyingly resolved. Sometimes the pieces aren't a puzzle. I'm writing this about graphic design, but it really applies to everything.

. . There's satisfaction for me now in having thought it through, making do, and moving on.

. . I lost out on (what felt like) an ideal middle school teaching gig (Lakeside) recently, which has been a kinda major bummer. But I think I got close to maximizing my potential inside that process, and I'm happy with that.

. I think one of the best compliments there is is that someone is a good communicator.

. Kong: Skull Island Not Great™

. I couldn't decide if this site's main color should be blue or red, so now it switches between them. Logic. Emotion. Makes sense. I like it.

. . The link colors are totally randomized on each page load. Why? It's interesting to me that: 1.  no two people looking at this page are seeing the same thing, 2. it's a decision that continues to change, 3. that I don't have control over, 4. that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.


. In Conversation: David Letterman

. “The part of our online performances that serve as a résumé can seem inseparable from the parts that are expressive or aspirational.”

. . I think, mostly, this is an unavoidable weirdness of sharing stuff online. And I think our digital selves are always constructions. But I see degrees between 1.  totally buying in and 2. sharing what's legitimately on my mind. And it's a balance I'm constantly aware of here.


. Psychologia Sportu logo

. InDesign script to convert multi-column text to individual frames

. Watching the Oscars. There's something really special for me in hearing people talk about the things they love doing and the people that inspired them to do it.

. “Movies are… a perpetual epiphany.”

. . They continue to be one of the best ways I know of for checking out and making new connections.


. Keeping up with RSS takes 15+ hours/week, but it's totally worth it.

. The text on this site is about the size I end up scaling other sites to if they require any lengthy reading.

. . Conveniently, this size helps meet Annabelle's 8–12 words-per-line rule.

. . Without a doubt, one of my favorite lessons from grad school.

. FondFont free font index

. Logan Good™

. Sleepwalk with Me Good™

. Kirby Typography plugin. For hyphenation and typographer's quotes.

. I'm just squeaking by financially right now, but I refuse to stop spending money on the things that I enjoy the most: movies, junk food, and nachos/tachos with friends.


. Trying a new thing on Fridays where I minimize freelance time and devote the rest of the workday to items on Tasks.txt that I tend to avoid (email, phone calls, job search, checkbook balancing, Desktop-clearing, paper mail).

. . Friday Night Taco Joe Time has evolved into a full day of doing things I need to do for me.

. I've started to worry about my bookcases falling on me in a middle-of-the-night earthquake.

. “weakness handled strongly… and perceptive generosity are the most properly [attractive] things in the world; because they are what make life with another person bearable.”

. Artists explain their work to their parents

. Gay & Lesbian Film Festival posters

. LEGO 80s Boombox

. . Absolutely my favorite LEGO builder (the chunkiness, the small-but-accurateness, the mechanics).

. “Once you confront the randomness of the universe, the only option is to find importance in the stuff right in front of you.”

. Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Rules of Living Animation

. Tech company excess bugs me.


. Get Out Good™

. “That was six years ago. Everybody changes in six years, you know. It’s just part of growth. Opinions change. Experiences change. So I don’t regret what I said. I’m not going to change what I said. But I am here now.

. . I continue to get a surprising amount personally from the NBA.

. It's possible that all of our feelings are really a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.


. “‘Echo chamber’ social grouping is driven… by advertising-oriented algorithms of tech companies and data brokers,… [which] produce algorithmically measurable identities — just as marketing produces consumers — and not the other way around.”

. I have the option to teach a second UW class this summer, on whatever (design) topic I'd like. This is my chance to teach the design process class I've been dreaming of, using the resources I've been collecting for years (movies, illustration, comedy, music, graphic design). But two new classes feels like a lot.

. I love being on campus.

. perfectionism: “a designing bias that will result in poor choices in order to refine a design only according to… trivially measurable parameters”.

. I will procrastinate on just about everything involving writing.

. Being able to write recommendations for students (having even a small amount of leverage in helping them get somewhere they'd like to go) is a real bonus of teaching.

Design is proactive learning February 2017


. To Die For Good™

. I haven't cooked anything on a stove in six months (since moving into the tiny apartment).

. This new site isn't at all finished (it's missing pages/features, and I've been constantly tweaking code). I like working in increments and acknowledging the process. Any illusion of finishedness would fly in the face of what I even want this site to be or do.


. “We have an extraordinarily limited power to get others to… understand us the way we so crave to be grasped.”

. Timo Kuilder, illustrator

. READ classroom posters

. I’m grateful to have freelancing for bridging gaps between phases of my life. Between 1.  Oxide and grad school, and now 2. grad school and whatever’s next.

. Professional disappointment has been useful motivation for getting to the gym.

. As disappointing as the Lakeside blip has been, I'm happy to have a clearer sense of what I want professionally: teaching full-time, ideally a combo of middle school and UW. Which hadn't crossed my mind as an option before this month.

. Casual² Good™

. I'm happy with the new site. My goals were/are: 1.  reduce my temptation to edit around line breaks, 2. feeling free to write as much as necessary, 3. bigger, more readable text, 4. more straightforward overall, 5. refocus on the Journal (vs. portfolio), 6. reflect that I'm moving further and further away from making images (and more towards thinking/teaching), 7. tweak some typography, 8. visually capture more of who I am.


. LEGO Woodland Creatures

. Always Shine Good™

. . Always Shine title sequence

. The Failed Promise of the Internet

. Once I’m past the first few minutes of a graphic design project (starting the file and importing the content), I’m way less likely to procrastinate.


. Launched v4.0 of this site (well, this page).

. . It's the third new site/portfolio since graduation (in June). A little absurd. But I've learned a lot, and each has felt closer to the thing I want my website to be.

. . Totally loving Kirby. I'm updating this page by editing a text file on my Mac (with FoldingText) that syncs automagically to the server (with Hazel). The dream.

. . Trying Messenger as my contact method. It's clickable, straightforward (not email), and not-intimidatingly-personal (not texting).

. Riverdale is the teen drama I’ve been waiting for.


. Mister Rogers defending PBS to the Senate

. I don't like that my professional success affects how I feel about myself, but it still does.

. randomColor generator Javascript. For the new site.

. The value of “it wasn't for me”

. . “If a book is tedious to you, don’t read it; that book was not written for you.” Borges

. . I remember exactly when I shifted to talking about movies/TV/books/music this way. It later ended up in the Scale™. But it also precipitated a bigger shift in the way I talk about all kinds of ideas (using more ‘feels like’s, ‘generally’s, ‘maybe’s, ‘probably’s). Trying to make space for other perspectives. Acknowledging that maybe nothing is one thing to everyone and probably nothing is objectively anything.


. John Wick: Chapter 2 Not Great™

. I have a hard time understanding maps unless I orient them to the direction I’m facing.

. The Room at Central Cinema


. Hooks (punches) and roundhouses (kicks) are so satisfying.

. Didn't get the Lakeside job, which I'm shocked by and legit heartbroken over. I thought for sure I had this one in the bag.

. . What did I learn (what was I excited for that I'm disappointed to miss out on)? I'm ready to: 1.  leave graphic design behind, 2. teach full-time, 3. ideally UW and a middle school simultaneously, 4. be part of a team of teachers, 5. meet new people, make new friends, maybe a lady, 6. not worry about money, 7. do something that I'm uniquely qualified for and excited about.

. . Of the jobs I've applied for in the last year, this is the second (along with micro:bit) that I thought I was perfect for, got really excited about, then managed not to get.

. . For both, I wish I could say: “What the fuck? I would've been perfect, and you have no idea.”

. . In the future, I'll probably be more careful about talking about potential jobs. It's embarrassing to feel like I'm really good at something, but for someone else (in a position to determine whether or not that's true) to disagree.

. . I went to TITLE twice today to work out the frustration of this, and it really helped.

. A combination of middle school + teaching + design continues to feel like what's next for me. I'm ready to get serious about teaching as the one thing that I do.


. A thing more tedious/stressful than writing emails: writing letters on paper.

. The three big themes I think about (design, realness, selfishness) are all maybe just design. Realness: is the goal of this thing what it appears to be? Selfishness: is your goal for my benefit or yours?

. A reason the graphic/UX design industry isn't for me is that — no matter how useful the product is or how sincerely the designers care about the process — the real goal (the design of the business itself) is to make a buck. And so the work will, probably, feel disingenuous to me.

. Show Your Work Great™

. . “Books are made out of books.” McCarthy

. . “You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.”

. . “We don't make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” Walt Disney

. . “To be ‘interest-ing’ is to be curious and attentive, and to practice ‘the continual projection of interest’”

. . “Whatever we say, we're always talking about ourselves.” Bechdel

. .I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you fucking like something, like it.” Dave Grohl


. Seattle Growth podcast

. An essential part of my graphic design process is saving/comparing iterations. I’ll usually change 1–2 things and save a screenshot or duplicate an artboard, do that for as many options as I can find, then compare. Am I getting closer or further away from my goals? Why does this feel right, but this doesn’t?


. I have a problem with the way memes are used to make fun of people’s mistakes.

. . Example: Aaron Gordon’s (missed) drone dunk at the Slam Dunk Contest (which also manages to make fun of Michael Jordan).

. . A good chunk of social media feels this way to me: either co-opting other people’s successes or capitalizing on their failures.

. LEGO Survey: “Compared to other people my age…” : (option 1) I own way more LEGO sets.

. “Some may call [my style] boring; I call it basketball.”

. I love NBA All-Star Weekend.


. The Ides of March Good™

. Thinking through color on the new site. Grayscale continues to feel appropriately practical… but inappropriately unfriendly. So I’d prefer some color, but I can’t argue meaningfully for any specific color(s). Wondering if changing colors randomly might be it.

. Submitted my Lakeside application. I’m stoked about this, professionally and personally. It really feels like the ideal next step: 1.  it puts my degree to use, 2. while not-being a graphic/UX design job, 3. teaching middle schoolers, 4. would be a solid building block on the path to LEGO, 5. gets me back on a team, 6. working with teachers (who I tend to connect with), 7. is a short commute, 8. is part-time (so I can keep teaching at UW), but 9. still includes benefits.


. Invisible split-screening in movies (The David Fincher Technique)


. Wayward Vegan Cafe

. I like knowing that Mad Men is out there, just waiting to be watched again.


. Questions I’m asking, redesigning this site: 1.  What’s the difference between refined not-specialness and uninviting boringness? 2. Why do I even care if this site is boring visually? 3. How do I signal that not-special choices are still intentional? 4. Why do I feel pressure to even indicate that my choices are intentional? 5. What am I trying to prove?

. . An unnecessary head trip, maybe. But it’s fun to think about.

. On freelance graphic design projects where visually interesting is the goal, I’ve gotten comfortable saying it's probably not for me. After years of frustration on those projects, it feels good to be upfront about that.

. . I don’t see graphic design as one skill anymore, it has subsets.

. These posts will probably be getting longer. A major goal of the new site is removing the temptation to worry (as much) about widows and lines-per-post. Editing can be a fun challenge, but it’s time-consuming..

. A history of the Like button

. . seamful design: “trades ease of use for greater user clarity about how a complex system works.”

. . I see seamless design as an increasing source of anxiety. When the thing breaks (and it will eventually), then what?


. Track clicks in Google Analytics. For the new site. I think it’s super interesting to see which links people choose to click.

. Emptied my storage unit. So far this year, I’ve liquidated enough stuff to fit everything I own in 211 ft². (Except my car. And my piano, which is still in Omaha.) Got plenty more minimizing to do.

. A connection between design and education: design is proactive learning. Research, prototyping, and feedback are ways of intentionally finding out: What don’t I know? What isn’t working? How is my perspective getting in the way?

. When Harry Met Sally: Breaking Genre Conventions


. A reliable (but still mysterious) step of my design process is the day-after. I’ll often go to sleep feeling confident, but feel differently in the morning — seeing a new opportunity I didn’t see yesterday. Petty cool.

. The selfie paradox: “while people often view their own selfies as ‘ironic’ and ‘authentic,’ they are likely to view the selfies of others as self-promotional and inauthentic.”

. Outliers Good™

. . There’s a story about Bill Gates as a Lakeside 7th grader in this book, and I’m stoked about that coincidence.

. Whitespace (in graphic design) is a clear signal of intentionality — that a design is in place.


. transmitter orientation: in Western cultures, it’s usually the speaker’s responsibility to communicate clearly — and if there’s confusion, it’s their fault. Eastern cultures are usually receiver oriented.

. CSS Reload Chrome extension, for CSS tweaking


. Stop iTunes from opening automatically

. After a money-saving hiatus, reactivated my Patreon pledges. These people are super motivating for me creatively, and they deserve my support.

. I Am Not Your Negro

. . “you, the white people, invented him, [and] you’ve got to find out why.… the future of the country depends on that.”

. . Been thinking about this a lot — the way we assume our personal perspective is an objective observation of reality — when our perspective is actually a filter that affects what version of reality we can even see.


. The benefits of changing your mind

. .“a good teacher… retains a clear, compassionate sense of what it was like to be in a different place to where they are now.”

. . If we can “remember without shame why we were once on the other side of an argument, we’ll acquire the greatest gift for trying to communicate our ideas to the world: we’ll know what it was like to disagree with ourselves”.

. Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Headphones

. Will Schoder philosophy/history/culture video essays

. . The Problem with Irony

. . Every Story is the Same

. Dan Harmon’s Story Circle. The “need” (the circle's first step) is a goal.

. LEGO Microscale Farm Equipment + Combine

. Ian's Shoelace Site


. Aston Grey Shaun boots. Boots feel like another measure of adulthood. And I finally have Seattle-appropriate shoes (i.e. that aren’t sponges).

. . Personal project idea: everyday design interviews about shoes.

. Casual¹ Good™

. Visited Lakeside to tour and they invited me to stay to observe a class (5th graders designing toys). It went great, I can totally see myself there, and I got to confirm that I am (maybe more than) qualified. Without looking for it, this is absolutely an opportunity I wanted in my life. Very stoked.

. . I got the impression that they were trying to sell me on the job. Which — after a few months of false starts and discouraging professional feedback — feels really good.


. The LEGO Batman Movie Not Great™

. . Watching movies, I’ve started to check out if there's a crazy-action third act.

. Celtics fans cheer 3-pointer from Paul Pierce (who plays for the Clippers) + Quincy Acy buys shoes and gift cards for former teammates

. . “I just know who I am.… I’m not out there trying to do too much, I stick to the key principles and I embrace it.”

. . I didn’t realize this as a kid, but a reason I’m drawn to hoops is that there’s very little distinction between the person and the athlete: 1.  they don’t wear gear, 2. the court is relatively small, and 3. there are only 10 people playing at a time.

. Monda typeface. For the new site, maybe. I tend to choose squarish (having square features, but not totally) typefaces for personal projects.

. . I’ve spent an absurd amount of time (2 ½ weeks) searching for type for the new site.

. Block Yourself from Analytics Chrome plugin


. Working on this site. Inspiration is useful for more than seeing how people have reached similar goals. It’s also useful for articulating those goals in the first place: 1.  “I want it to feel like… this.” 2. “Why do I like this?” 3. Comparing inspiration: “What do all of these things share?”

. . I’ve been using: leohunt.com, kilmc.com, susandejongh.nl, oak.is, and a few Esquire pages.

. It’s possible that all good classrooms are a version of the the Matrix — teaching students to see the mechanisms and use them for themselves.

. 20th Century Women Good™


. Dictionary Story: In the Beginning


. I disagree with “you shouldn’t care what other people think”. Being aware of how others interpret and respond to you feels healthy (personally), considerate (interpersonally), and important (professionally). It’s possible to be an independent thinker who also cares, sincerely, what other people think.

. . Caring what other people think is a vital part of designing: asking-for/responding-to feedback.

. Scanned 25+ piano/drum books to PDF, eliminating a whole shelf of physical books.

. . In the last six weeks, I’ve cut my book collection by 50+ books (a third).


. lying: being both “inaccurate and self-serving” vs. mistakes (only inaccurate) vs. boasting (only self-serving).

. . A lie is a design.

. Lazy: A Manifesto

. . “I am not busy. I am the laziest ambitious person I know.”

. . “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections.”

. . This is absolutely where I’m at right now. Freelancing a few hours a day, working on this site, reading, watching, boxing again, minimizing stuff. And generally thinking about the next phase.

. All That We Share

. American Graffiti Good™


. 1Writer Markdown editor app.

. . With the new site, I’ll be able to post/edit this page with one text file, and I’m super stoked.

. . I love Markdown. I started using it with FoldingText, and it fundamentally changed the way I write, organize, and plan. It’s exactly the right amount of tech interference.

. Political correctness vs. politeness

. Irony in the Trump era

. How the internet became a tool for judgment

. . “We could think of judgment as the fast food of the internet.… [And] the ad-driven, click-driven, gamified business model that drives the culture of judgment makes fast food the only economically viable option.”

. . This business model makes “the most toxic aspects of contemporary internet culture — things like ideological bubbles or fake news or harassment campaigns — unfixable…. From the perspective of driving user engagement, these behaviors are features.”

. . I’m not opposed to social media. It’s been great for keeping up with Omaha friends. I check Twitter daily and Instagram weekly.


. Moonlight Good™

. . Making sense of (and feeling OK with) ourselves has a lot to do with hearing someone else say they feel the same way — that it’s normal.

. . It’s one of the reasons this site is public.

. I've gotten even more confident in trusting that my feelings are an indication of something real — even if I don't know what that something is right away. I'm recognizing that, with enough time, I've been able to resolve many of the most complex reactions I've had to events in the past.


. When I was younger, I was insulted/frustrated by clients giving heavy-handed direction. And now I’m like: sweet, thank you, let’s check this thing off the list and move on with our lives.

. Hunt for the Wilderpeople Good™

. . Q: “Don't you want a normal life?” A: “Don’t know, maybe.”

This website is a foam pit January 2017


. Afiado pixel icons. For the new site.

. IcoMoon icon font builder


. Potential design with kids workshop: prototyping your future with LEGO.


.Trump’s… deceptions often [do] double duty, serving not just his ego but also important strategic goals.” Realness + selfishness + design. The things I think about the most, more worrying than ever.


. Kirby file-based CMS.

. . I'm redeveloping this site from scratch. This’ll streamline posting/editing, which I’m not doing as often as I’d like using WordPress.

. Another important moment in my own media literacy was realizing that awards competitions are businesses. That the primary goals of Communication Arts and the Academy Awards are to sell ads. And that the nominees/winners might be (probably are) influenced by how the perception of those choices will read.

. Louie⁵ Good™

. It feels a little ridiculous to be posting about anything but politics right now. It’s absolutely on my mind.

. . But it’d be inaccurate to say I’m not thinking about and doing other things, too.


. Brackets code editor

. CSS Reference


. Brick Picker LEGO investing guide. If I had a bunch of extra money and space, I’d totally invest in LEGO.

. I spend probably 5× as much time reading about the NBA as watching it.

. After all the stress-eating and not-exercising this fall, I weigh probably (slightly) more now than ever, and I’ve really fallen out of shape. Feeling pretty gross, but working on it.

. LEGO Education + Foundation + Ideas job searches. I’d really like to work for this company.


.Don’t be afraid. You can call me.” Cellphones are such a complex problem: because they’re always on (electronically and physically), we call less, out of fear of interrupting.

. . It’s been a major problem since the move. For long distance communicating, there’s really nothing better/as-real.

. Easily print page ranges in InDesign


. Added a list of Great™ Books.


. Despite how I feel about graphic design culture, I still love graphic design-ing. There’s maybe nothing else I can spend a whole day totally lost in (like yesterday, with the next version of site).

. cottage cheese + orange marmalade


. Modern Romance Good™

. . “In a sense we are all like a Flo Rida song: The more time you spend with us, the more you see how special we are.”

. . The whole dating-in-Seattle situation (i.e. not dating at all) has been way different than what I imagined before the move. Grad school and The Freeze have played a part. But mostly, I’m just really enjoying the solitude. (Although that might be changing.)

. Auto-merge multiple scans in Photoshop

. Louie⁴ Good™

. Working on a new version of this site. Especially with personal projects, I think a lot about design transparency invisibility. 1.  What makes a particular choice appropriate enough that the designer’s decision-making isn’t a distraction? 2. At what point does a design try too hard (and become visible)? 3. Can invisible decisions still be interesting? 4. Why is interesting important to me at all?

. Fit space-filling typeface


. I tell students that a solid personal project can really open doors for them. I’m wondering about organizing a regular meetup-thing to help them work through a project. Bonus: it’d also keep me connected when I’m not teaching.

. . Also, longer-term, wondering about a project that’d help people (probably kids) identify important ideas and potential goals for themselves by finding patterns in the things they’re naturally drawn to (aka Great™s, Pleasure-Point Analysis).

. good selfishness: “an accurate understanding of what we need in order to maximize our utility for others.”

. . Right now, I’m being more intentionally selfish than maybe ever. And getting a lot out of it.

. I’m not, at all, interested in hustling.

. The Founder Not Great™

. Intentional Color Use in Movies. Definitely showing this in class.

. How Louis CK Tells (Designs) a Joke


. Local news reports on Louie

. There are a few recurring phrases/responses I use that I naturally absorbed from other people throughout my life. And I know exactly who for each. That’s interesting.

. . One example: the Drew Davies “nailed it”.

. I have a ton (ideal) amount of free time right now, and I’m stoked about it. Getting caught up, getting up earlier, getting in shape, and getting rid of stuff. Just getting ready for whatever’s next.


Met separately with three UW Design seniors (Andrea, Maggie, and Josiah) to give feedback about projects/jobs post-graduation. It’s been such a pleasure watching this class mature over the last two years.


. An issue I have with the startup and design industries is the frequency of glossing-over, rounding-off, plucky-soundtracking, clever-taglining, flawlessly-humanizing, upper-middle-classing of… life. So much of it feels oblivious to how complex things really are.

. . Current examples: KIDBOX, Facebook Live commercials, Real Friends Fake News shirt.

. My schedule is super open (just part-time freelancing). Not sustainable, but I absolutely love waking up without an alarm, watching TV and reading whenever I feel like it, going to the gym when it’s empty, and just generally pursuing whatever little project would feel good to check off right now.

. Getting excited about my summer class: Intro. to Color, Composition, & Typography (265c).

. . I want to teach it as media literacy — finding effective (and not) graphic design in the world, reverse engineering how it works (or doesn’t), and then applying those principles to something new.


. Why Self-Analysis Works

. . “[We] feel… refreshed by… the alchemy of converting feelings into ideas.”

. . “We take on… the anxiety that arises from admitting how many opportunities still remain to us and how much the status quo can and must be changed.”

. New Elementary LEGO parts/techniques blog

. How to Be a Person in the World Good™

. BX: the bullshit experience. Trump is a BX designer.

.The process requires a foam pit. The foam pit makes everything possible.”

. .A classroom is a foam pit. This website is a foam pit.


. 36/37 is the tipping point in my life where, looking back, I’m like, “Dang, things have really changed since I was a kid.”

. Been thinking about how I’m maybe getting close to missing out on the chance to find a lady and be a dad. I’m not sure I even want these things, but I am wondering about how late would be too late to decide.

. . One reason I’m not on a dating site is that I don’t have many current photos of myself. Is this dumb?

. . I’ve only used online dating for a month, in 2012. It all makes me uncomfortable anyway, and I’d rather meet women as a natural part of my life.

. . Also wondering if not getting a regular job is fatally limiting my chance to do that.

. I’ve kept a collection of notes (letters, cards, post-its) from other people (family, friends, teachers, ex-girlfriends) that I like to look through sometimes (I did today). Despite seriously minimizing right now, I want to keep these. It’s one of the best tool I have for reconnecting with the past.


. Silent movie practical effects

. MacGyvering is a word — and a kind of everyday design.

. Paterson Not Good™

. . I really can’t stand movies where quirkiness is intended to represent real life.

. . I don’t get poetry.

. Sneakers Not Great™


. Calling Bullshit, a (proposed) class at UW. The openness to this kind of thinking is why I live in Seattle. So proud.

.just being able to be yourself is probably one of the… most valuable qualities in any relationship.… [Yet,] how much time is spent wishing other people were different rather than cultivating a sense of kindness towards them as they are”?

. Mini tension bars. Transforming a wall-mounted towel bar into a removable paper towel holder. And IKEA shelf bookends.

. . Working through little problems like this (physically and digitally) has been fun for as long as I can remember. Also cable management.


. DrumsAnywhere + Freedrum. Looking for ways to keep drumming in a tiny apartment.

. Selling my Roland kit tomorrow. I don’t have the room, and it’s too noisy for apartment life anyway. Sad to see it go.

. Is it weird to say to a woman: “If you’re ever single some day, let me know.”?


.as Nietzsche said, he who does battle with shitheads must beware that he does not thereby become a shithead.”

. . I’m getting a lot better at this as I get older. But I’m not there yet (as grad school made clear).

.What matters is you, all alone at your desk at five in the morning… a place where you know who you are and what you’re meant to accomplish in this life.”

. The Real Story About Fake News Is Partisanship

. . Our increasing polarization corresponds to the digitizing of our personal lives (both “starting in the 1980s”), and my bet is they’re connected.


.[viewpoints] on the internet gain a frightening echo because they seem unattached to any single human being. Untethered, [they seem] endless.”

. Job-wise, I might stick with graphic design freelance after all. But I’m hoping to focus on straightforward mostly-type layout projects (forms, instructions, books). The stuff I legitimately enjoy doing. (Is this feasible? No idea.)

. . Anymore (probably since the start, really) I’m just not the guy for mostly-image, wow-me-with-this projects.

. Whatever the income-generator, it’s gotta leave space for teaching. This wasn’t a criteria three months ago. But after 210, I’m sold (again).

. . Why not just teach? Because 1.  the lifestyle of full-time teaching (based on what I’ve seen) isn’t at all what I’m working towards, 2. part-time doesn’t pay enough to be a job on its own, and 3. I hate grading.


. Louie³ Good™

. Been getting to a few comics and video-games I’ve collected (unread/unplayed) over the years. There are a lot. Looking back, it’s absurd how much time I expected to have some day for this kind of thing. Another signal of adulthood.


. emotional skepticism: recognizing that our (and everyone’s) emotions influence our logic — that what appears most real is a personal interpretation.

. . This has been a defining feature of adulthood for me.

. Journaling is super helpful for me. But it’s as helpful in empathizing with how other people interact with the world. Everyone is also, always managing their own thoughts, feelings, goals, and limitations.

. Still feeling embarrassed about the last day of 210. But realizing that being a sensitive guy is what makes me a good teacher in the first place. That helps.


. A tricky part of writing/sharing stuff here is deciding between: 1.  things that are just personal enough (to be valuable) vs. 2. things that are too personal (and weird).

. What smell means to those who don’t have it

. Inception (and especially the music) is directly connected in my mind to my solo vacation to Vancouver (in 2010), when I watched it the first time. Walking around that city listening to that soundtrack was pretty special.

. . That trip was the start of this phase of my life. It lead directly to choosing UW — and every part of living in Seattle (and leaving Omaha) since. Pretty cool.

. . And I originally picked Vancouver because it's where Smallville was filmed.

. Truth in Advertising

. Fences Good™


.It’s not your life. It’s life. Life is bigger than you… if you can imagine that.”

.Any seemingly dull thing is… a composite of smaller events or decisions. Or of atoms and molecules and prejudices and hunches…. Everything is interesting because everything is not what it is, but is something on the way to being something else. Everything has a history and a secret stash of fascination.” The process.

. Louie² Good™


. Didn’t get the tech company (Flywheel) support job. But it’s cool. It was a helpful prototype for testing my feelings on bailing out of graphic/UX design, and I’m ready.

. So stoked The Bachelor is back on the air.


. The root of the word ‘design’ is the Latin word ‘signum’: a mark — which is both 1.  a target (goal) and 2. a visual thing (intentional or accidental). So the confusing, dual meaning goes way back. Hmm…

. Reading comics, realizing superheroes/villains are a useful example of intentional color choices (expressing personality and characters’ connections to each other).

. My goal is to be in Good™ shape (I wouldn’t maintain Great™). Currently: Not Great™.

I have some of my clearest thoughts at the speed/heavy bags on my solo workout days.

. Rogue One Good™

. . I'm not into Star Wars, but I really like how this movie was engineered to dovetail into Episode I.

. . I’m more of a Spaceballs than Star Wars guy.

. Finished a newsletter layout for Justin + The Union for Contemporary Art. I've always had fun with this kind of project: figuring out how existing elements can work within fresh limitations.

. . In high school, I wrote Chapter 2 ½ (between existing chapters 2 and 3) of A Lost Lady, and I have really clear memories of enjoying that.


.play > display

. Spent the holidays in Seattle again. I enjoy parties/obligations (the move wasn’t a plan to escape, exactly). But I really do prefer having holiday time to myself.

. Louie¹ Good™

. The 13 Clocks Good™

. Green Room Not Great™

. I’ve mostly ignored Tasks.txt for two weeks, and that’s been awesome.

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