Watched 105 new (to me) movies this year. (No Great™s, though.)
Student loan paid in full. I started grad school ready for $50k+ of debt, but (thanks to UW treating TA’s so well and TAing every quarter) I ended up ahead.
“if you’re trying to create something new, an objective can stand in your way.”
Interesting. But “create something new” is still, itself, a goal. And being “prepared for an accident” is a design to reach it.
10 years ago, I compiled and uploaded a torrent of Ludacris songs (“The Absholute Best of”), and it’s still being seeded!
On the Internet, “momentum (rather than the medium) becomes the message.”
Reading 210 student feedback. It’s really positive, but I can do better. I know I can continue to improve the class and my ability to teach it, and I’m excited for that.
Darwyn Cooke is my favorite illustrator, hands down.
Just the first in a stack of comics, video games, and books I’m planning to work through over the next few months. Stoked.
Tweaking the style of this site, eliminating a few special things (home page images, sunglasses mouseover).
The Employment short film
PDF Squeezer compression app
Things that feel insidious to me: 1. marketing, 2. personal branding, 3. likes/comments (esp. likes on comments), 4. memes, 5. the idea that a thing isn’t worthwhile unless it’s amazing, 6. snark, 7. crazy (rarely entirely true) stories, 8. puns, 9. bullshit.
I’ve only driven 2000 miles this year.
Memory Clean RAM utility
The Outline, power/culture/future blog
I get irritated when I feel like I need to justify not-wanting a graphic/UX design job. Grad school was part of a plan to break away from that path. But I understand the confusion. Mostly, I’m irritated by: 1. a silly flattening of the single word ‘design’ into those two things, and 2. those industries perpetuating that flattening.
Revised personal definition of design: 1. a bundle of decisions intended to accomplish a goal (or goals), and 2. the process of making those decisions.
Last day of 210. Really bummed it’s over.
Teaching continues to be one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.
The UW Design Class of 2019 (like the two before it) is full of great people.
I told the class that watching them figure out: 1. who they want to be, 2. what they want to communicate, and 3. how to do it… is (for me) the best thing there is.
At the end of a quarter/semester, I like to wrap-up by connecting design ideas to class moments. Today, it was process (goals, limitations, inspiration, concepting, prototyping, collaboration, feedback) matched with photos of 210 students/projects.
It kills me. I do this to emphasize that (despite having spent the class talking mostly about technical details) design is both smaller (more personal) and bigger (more important) than it probably seems.
As much as I wanted to avoid it, I still cracked. Generally, I’m better than ever at managing my emotions. But they still bubble over sometimes. I’m embarrassed by it.
Sophia (210 student) came to me last week, frustrated with feeling uninspired. I gave her some suggestions (using mostly her own ideas and sketches). She came to me today to say that our conversation was really helpful.
I’m rarely truly satisfied with my graphic design projects. I wonder how common this is.
“there are already plans for a Fast and the Furious 9 and… 10.” Big fan. And I like having movies (and other cultural things) to look forward to. That’s always been true.
I like a lot of downtime between stressful things. The 5/2 work-week/weekend ratio feels off to me. Ultimately, my goal is for every day to feel like the weekend.
App Cleaner uninstaller
Just one more 210 class left. I’m nervous about keeping it together on the last day.
Getting really close to having lots of free time again, and I’m planning to spend it catching up on things I’ve been accumulating but haven’t actually made use of (books, video games, and LEGO).
Designing a title sequence could be a sweet class project.
“ It was really about looking at [our inspiration] and figuring out what I liked about them and what would work for this….”
In 210, I’ve focused more than ever on showing how to use examples/inspiration intentionally. It’s not about copying, but teaching yourself to find opportunities. Comparing to something that’s already achieved your goals and figuring out how.
“Creative responsibility” is a phrase I’ve been using to describe what I’d like to avoid professionally.
Artists for Education classroom posters
Introducing a project (like I did today in 210) is complex. I’m excited about it (knowing what students are about to do), but students often get anxious about the unknowns ahead.
When I was younger, it was important to me that I eventually contribute some major project/idea to the world. But that’s a lot less important now. And the most satisfying things today (movies, reading, LEGO, personal projects) feel selfishly at odds with making that lasting contribution.
Maybe. Because I really do think it’s all headed somewhere.
Reality TV was an important pivot point in my own media literacy. Although the final votes on Survivor and The Bachelor (probably) aren’t orchestrated by the producers — the producers CAN tell a dramatic story (with editing) that leads up to those specific votes.
A fun job would’ve been delivering mail in a large corporate building.
Most weeks, I only need to set an alarm once (Fridays, for 210). Days-without-alarm is a measure of a good life for me.
Started the LEGO Christmas Build-Up (my first set in over a year). I want to make a lot more time for LEGO in my life.
Matt (in 210) found this site and wanted to talk LEGO today. A major bonus of this site for me is showing students more of who I am.
At least 50% of the times I leave my apartment, I realize I’ve forgotten something and have to turn right back around. Like seconds later.
A reason I procrastinate is that even if I finish a thing early, I’d probably have my best version of the idea the night before it’s due anyway. Letting it cook — for as long as possible — is a reliable strategy for me in figuring things out.
“Comparing [alternate designs] can reveal the common elements…, and the different ways those elements can be used.”
Dissecting examples is such a useful teaching/learning tool.
Panic Room title sequence. I remember sitting in the theater, loving these as they happened. Still love them.
The only things I collect anymore are examples of design process/concepts (like this, to use in class) and LEGO.
I can always count on Ashley for decision support (in this case, probably bailing out of design professionally).
It’s not unusual for a total stranger to compliment the coat I’m wearing (twice this month, with different coats!).
The Week: 10 Things You Need to Know Today newsletter
Tally Counter. For counting students’ favorite project votes in 210.
LEGO Monofigs, single-color minifigs
A reason I’m irritated by design industry culture is that the self-promomotion feels unfair. These are masters of a medium, using it to represent themselves. Of course it looks appealing.
Design is not a lifestyle. Every aspect of our lives is design.
“one of the most fundamental activities of all animals [is] the search for patterns.… But unlike other animals, [people] can explain the patterns we find.”
I’ve been donating to Kirby for awhile (I’m listed in the credits!). This is a thing I want to do more of: financially support other peoples’ personal projects.
Thanksgiving, the holiday when “you are not burdened with two traditional sources of anxiety: gifts and religion.”
“Fake news isn’t a glitch in the system, but rather the Like economy working at peak efficiency.” — The Ringer
Spark, email app
In 210, it’s been tricky/frustrating to get everyone to stop talking at the start of class. My latest tactics are to shout “Yo!” or the name of a student sitting in the back (they’ll stop whatever they’re doing, and then everyone else will).
This week, I’ve been really living with the idea of checking out of design professionally, and I’m excited about it.
Been postponing a lot of small personal projects until 12.14 (post-210). Looking forward to an open schedule again.
When I watch a commercial, I’m usually thinking about how it’s been designed/constructed to manipulate.
I think a major life challenge for everyone is recognizing that the way they think/feel is not the way everyone (maybe anyone) else thinks/feels.
Many of the people who visit this site (≈ 35%) only stay for a few seconds. I’m really curious what they expected to find.
I told students that 210 itself is a design. As teacher/TA, we also have goals (things we want students to learn), limitations (time), we prototype new ideas (exercises, critiques), and we use feedback (from students) to make the class better.
I Asked for anonymous feedback on the class, and it was really positive. Compared to when I started teaching (in 2011), I think I’m: 1. communicating more clearly, 2. making better use of examples, 3. developing more meaningful exercises, 4. making teaching less about me, and 5. overall, running a tighter ship.
“you are empathetic, passionate, authoritative, patient, constructive with your critique, and you make class fun!” I’m really proud of this.
210 will be over in less than a month, and I’m really going to miss it.
I think a goal of life should be to 1. figure out what drives/interests you and then 2. utilize it to live a life that feels meaningful and satisfying.
Back to boxing for the first time in a month. Also ended a similar break with meditation.
I really enjoy form design. Just for fun, I redesigned one for Pilchuck (they’d only asked for minor edits).
Thanks to Josh, added a category filter here. (It also hides personal posts, and I’m stoked to make this page public again.) Also revising the (right now, unfinished) home page.
I usually edit this site live. I’m getting more comfortable showing myself unedited, and I’m happy about that.
Generally, I make more progress (on all kinds of projects) when I just try a version of an idea, test my feelings later, and refine from there.
Been having fun doing this with Command Hooks in my apartment.
A huge thing that’s changed in the last two years is that I now assume ALL my feelings are valid responses to real things. Mainly 1. my intuition of other peoples’ feelings. And 2. feelings I can’t rationalize (yet).
This Terry Gross interview was essential in that change. I think about it a lot.
These are the kinds of things that occur to me while I’m watching a really good movie.
One of my favorite things to do is cruise IMDb to see what newly-announced movies I have to look forward to next year.
Been eating a lot of fast food lately (4–5 times/week) — probably more than ever. It’s a stress response, but I also really enjoy it.
As an outsider, it’s been interesting to watch the professional/personal relationships in Omaha change.
First call with tech company (Flywheel) about a customer support job that’d hopefully start in January. Stoked.
The beauty of non-income-generating personal projects is that they CAN only make sense to me.
Walking around downtown Seattle, I can’t not smile. I feel so much energy from seeing the mechanisms of a big city in action (architecture, traffic, transit, all kinds of people — actually outside — going places).
An unexpected number of people really like the sunglasses mouseover.
First Space Time (watching and chatting about science/idea videos) with Bryan.
A few Omaha bonds persist.
We talked about how people are designed (by evolution) to survive on Earth. I hadn’t made this connection before.
“Dear America: challenge accepted.” — Naked City Brewery
When people ask how 210’s going, I’ve been saying “I love it”. I wish the content was less graphic designy, it’s a lot of work, and it doesn’t pay enough. But the students are doing great work, I think I’m the person for the job, and I’m having fun.
“Playing to an audience more savvy about image-making, Trump knew his erratic spontaneity played like honesty.”
“the constant churn of news seems to make everything both too important and of no matter.”
I save essays like this in an Ideas folder, divided into: Being a Person, Communication, Culture, Feeling, Realness, Relationships, Religion, Technology, and Thinking.
Since I’ve been in/around the UW Design program for three years, I know all 180 undergrads. Whenever I’m on campus, I’ll run into a few of them, and I really appreciate having these kids in my life.
The school offered me a second class to teach (over the summer), and I’ll probably do it.
In 210, I didn’t know what to say about the election that’d be appropriate, so I told them exactly that.
My car was towed for not paying attention to parking signs. And I’m totally OK with it! It’s actually a valuable chance to recognize that I don’t dwell on mistakes like this anymore (like missing a plane last year).
Posted projects from 210 in the Design hallway. A junior (Chloe) (who did the same project last year) noticed and said I should be proud of the class. I really am.
Going to try cutting podcasts altogether. I’m really tired of the anxiety of treading water.
Ironing Mat. Using a bookcase (already also a coffee table) as an ironing board. Still into tiny apartment life.
Second LINK workshop. This doesn’t feel right. It’s two groups of people I don’t really connect with, together: design pros and high school students.
I think this kind of perspective-shift and mechanism-reveal is what classrooms are for.
I’m disappointed with how little money I’m making (compared to stress-being-felt and personal-goals-not-being-met).
Seattle has gotten me really close to the heart of design industry culture. The more I see, the weirder it seems. And I’m feeling confident now that I don’t belong there.
I went to grad school to stop designing in a traditional graphic/UX design-job way, which I think is a complex thing for people to understand.
Stepping away from design professionally is me designing my life. I don’t need other people to understand it. It feels right.
It’d be interesting to hear commentary by someone as they compose an email (about edits and decision-making). It’s such a complex process.
When I wake up in the middle of the night (usually because I have a looming deadline or caffeine after noon), it’s a great time for problem-solving (being only half-awake).
Today, I figured out the name for a 210 color exercise based on Apples-to-Apples: Apples-to-Purples.
And… it was a huge hit! An all-time classroom highlight. #teaching
A disappointing thing about teaching is that I’m usually the only one who can appreciate the success of a moment like this.
One of my favorite apps (Listacular) has stopped working. An example of how all tech things can and will-probably break — because whatever technology around them that makes the app work can and will-probably change too.
I wish I could opt out of birthdays. Not getting older necessarily, just the expectations (mine and everyone elses’). They tend to be weird days for me.
Our whole lives, we’re in the middle of the design process. Every day, we’re doing things, learning, and making changes.
Still really interested in everyday design.
One of the big takeaways from grad school was that I stopped thinking there was a professional outlet for these kinds of ideas.
Maybe UW was the wrong place for it, but people I’d hoped would care, didn’t.
“They were more interested in the wedding than the marriage.” — Sarah
As fun and satisfying as 210 has been professionally, I’m frustrated personally. I’m accomplishing so few personal goals (reading, boxing, LEGO, website projects), and only breaking even on bills. It feels like a net-negative.
A major drawback of graphic designing (especially freelance) is that it’s not public-facing. I feel in my element when I’m interacting with people directly.
Timeglass countdown timer app
I woke up with a sweet Donnie Darko costume idea. (Odd because I’m not into the movie or costumes.) But another example of subconscious/dream problem-solving.
I don’t dress up for Halloween. It feels wasteful, it's expensive, and the evaluation weirds me out.
I’ve made a commitment to myself that I won’t feel bad for spending money hanging out with friends, movies, movie snacks, coffee, fast food. These things make me happy, and they’re what my money is for.
Designed a 210 exercise I’m really proud of. My goals: 1. a fun mid-quarter break + 2. collaborative + 3. Halloween-ish + 4. meaningful color (to segue to the next project) + 5. animation. Solution: students animated-GIF one ‘monster’ part (eye, foot, etc.); each part is 1/6th of a monster with a personality (enthusiastic, irritable, mysterious, etc.), communicated with color; we’ll assemble the monsters on Halloween.
Here’s the thread that runs through tech, media literacy, realness, and selfishness: Digital communication has brought an opportunity/awareness/incentive to construct/edit/manipulate how we present ourselves to each other. Not that all communication is manipulation, but it might be. So it’s tricky (impossible?) to know what’s real. And I worry what that ambiguity is doing to us.
Been hanging out with the current grad students (a bonus of being on campus for 210). Socially, this group is way more of the grad school experience I wished I’d had.
I’m irritated by ‘conversations’ that mostly amount to being talked-at.
I’m really aware of the people in my life that I can have real (two-way, meaningful, non-incentivized) conversations with. There aren’t many.
“Would you like a cookie?” Yes.
It’s tricky to be honest about my feelings on design jobs/culture when these things are big parts of my friends’ lives.
I like using the idea of fat/sugar/salt (ways of making food exciting) as a metaphor for graphic design bullshit (pop/pizzaz).
A majority of my metaphors are food-related.
Sometime early next year (after 210 ends), I’ll need to generate more income. I’m considering a very normal part-time job (Safeway, Amazon warehouse). The benefits (which Justin and Jesse helped me think through) are: 1. space for subconscious problem-solving, 2. saving creative energy for my own projects, 3. inspiration for an everyday design project.
Another reason I love Taco Bell is how cleverly they continue to remix the same ingredients. It’s problem-solving.
I find Husker fans (not the team) irritating. I don’t know why.
When I travel, ideas just pour out. I sent myself 11 Do Notes on the flight.
Waking-up/arriving early is starting to make sense to me. As a way of managing stress and reclaiming time for myself.
Of the jobs I’ve had, I feel like teaching is where I’ve done my best work. Second is the sales floor at Toys R Us (in high school).
I say things are “interesting” a lot. I think it’s a compliment, and it feels less judgey than “good”.
Switched to Cricket Wireless (replacing H2O).
LEGO Modular Building: Assembly Square. There’s a LEGO-builder’s apartment that’s crazy similar to the place I’m living in now.
This is the 10th building in the series. I’ve collected them since the beginning, but still haven’t built any of them.
I think it’s probably nearly impossible for me to ever get a job as a LEGO set designer. Which was the dream for most of my life.
I got slightly-but-noticeably (and justifiably) miffed in 210, when students wouldn’t stop talking. I’m not terrible at managing students’ attention, but I’ve seen teachers do it better. Something I need to figure out.
I’m an emotional guy, and there are times (like this) when it shows. But I have a longer fuse than ever. I’m proud of that.
Still feeling super stressed and time-crunched. And still haven’t played Galaga. But overall, 210 is going really great.
Is there an event where kids (middle schoolers?) can quickly test (be exposed to) lots of activities/jobs to get a sense of what they might be into?
When we say that the design of something is good/bad, we’re talking about how well it does something we want it to do. Talking about design is always talking about goals (and the success/failure at reaching them).
First LINK workshop. I’m frustrated by people in charge of things that don’t help newcomers feel welcome. I can hold my own now, but it reminds me of when I couldn’t.
I try to be an includer as often as I can.
In this phase of my life, I’m not interested in being impressive. I have a solid grasp of who I am and confidence in what I’m doing. If that’s not resonating: no prob. But I’m not compelled to convince anyone otherwise.
When I feel comfortable around someone (or lots of people), I tend to make more sound effects, voices, and wacky hand/arm gestures. Been doing this a lot in 210.
Communicating verbally can be a challenge for me (writing, too, but it’s editable). Using sounds/gestures is really helpful.
In 210, explaining how shapes interact (in order vs. chaos compositions), I used the sounds ‘boop’ vs. ‘tcshrzzzzzz’.
This is a reason why I connected to graphic design. It’s a way for me to communicate that also makes sense to other people.
I hate looking at the calendar and seeing I won’t have a full day free for awhile.
Middle school students are “self-aware, but not self-conscious.” — Jason
The sophomores who started in UW Design when I did (in 2014) are seniors now. It’s been cool to watch them grow into more specific, confident versions of themselves.
I don’t mind Seattle’s weather. It’s part of my decision to move, and I think about it that way. Rain or shine, I appreciate it.
I think growing up in a conservative place affected my chances of getting married. In Omaha, I ran out of options because (unlike most Nebraskans) I wasn’t married by 30.
In Seattle, I may have moved too late to catch the women who (in a liberal place) stayed single longer. Doh.
Marriage used to be the goal, and I just needed to figure out who she was going to be. But that’s changed, and I’m good either way. If I meet her: excellent. If not, life continues like it is today: excellent.
Teaching fulfills most (maybe all) of my interest in being a dad.
I’m going all out on 210 exercises. After two weeks, we’re already up to ‘F’. I’d like to get us to ‘Z’ by the end.
Got all the sophomores’ names memorized.
210 prep (project sheets, outlining exercises, presentation examples, grading) fills most of my free time. I’m happy to be doing it, but I’ve been super stressed since the quarter started.
When I’m in class, explaining an idea, and students are engaged and ideas are landing, I really feel like I’m in my element.
As a teacher, a thing I’m doing differently this time is minimizing talking about teaching itself. I want to be open about receiving feedback and making changes. But I don’t want students to be too aware of my role. I think that awareness (in the past) has diluted the experience a bit for everyone.
Building presentations for 210. Finding examples is hard and time-consuming. But it’s essential. Examples are threads that connect new ideas to things we already know.
This is my 500th day of posting here.
I’m so tired of the convolution of design as ‘a way of understanding how everything comes to be’ and design as ‘the way things look’.
Codeanywhere web-based code editor
I like that 210 is a sophomore-level class. 20-year-olds are in between life phases, and they know it. They’re open about the things they don’t understand, and they’re excited to figure it out. It’s a rare/inspiring mix of attitudes.
From watching the TITLE trainers, I’m better at correcting my own students’ mistakes: make it quick and focus on the problem. (Too much empathy makes it awkward.)
I’m inspired by people doing uncool things confidently.
Re-watched The Social Network. It’s as good as movies get for me.
I’ve been on a major cinnamon graham cracker kick recently.
Nick and Travis are my role models for making time for things they’re into. I’m so bad at this. I don’t do enough of the things I legitimately enjoy (read, build LEGO, play video games, play drums). But this phase of my life is about very seriously figuring it out.
Got an email from a friend (Craig Nashleanas) five weeks ago that I still haven’t replied to. I feel terrible about it. I think about it every day.
It’s pretty unusual for me to wake up and think “that was a good night’s sleep”. That’s been true for at least a decade.
How do you turn transactional coffee-buying-talking (with a cute barista girl) into a real conversation?
“If [something] annoys us, if it frustrates us,… that’s a great opportunity to learn something new about ourselves.” — Headspace
New goal: be prepped for class with enough time to play Galaga beforehand. Because 1. it’s a Great™ game, but I never made time for it during grad school, and 2. it’s ridiculous that I still procrastinate.
Third day of 210. I’m feeling really good teaching again.
In terms of setting students up with essential design ideas (goals, process, communication) and (hopefully) giving them reasons to care: I’m the guy for this job.
My most time-crunched week in awhile. If I postpone Tasks.txt, journaling, RSS, NYT for too long, I can feel it, physically.
I’m supremely frustrated by tech things that don’t do what they promise to.
Today, my Kindle won’t connect to Wi-Fi. I’ve spent so much time in my life just getting gadgets to work like they did yesterday.
There’s usually (at least) one broken tech thing in my life. Currently: undelivered text messages, new rechargeable batteries that won’t hold a charge, Bluetooth things disconnecting, duplicate calendar alerts.
The temporariness of tech is anxiety-inducing. It feels different from (for example) my new IKEA shelves, which won’t some day stop holding things.
Designing the challenges on Survivor would be a fun job.
I can get from my apartment to Safeway (door-to-door) in less than two minutes.
I guess I thought by now someone I knew from Omaha would’ve moved to Seattle. Not something I need or was planning on, but I really assumed it’d happen.
First day of 210. Standing in front of class (my first as the teacher in two years), with 60 students (my biggest class ever, by far), I felt less anxious (way less) than I expected. It felt good.
I’ve gotten a real confidence boost from being asked to do this.
Although, I’m not all that interested in the content of 210 (color and composition). I think I’m better suited for concept/process classes.
I can be a little absent-minded in class, and I don’t mind making mistakes (I feel more comfortable embracing it than hiding it). But I do wonder what students think about it.
Professionally, after grad school, I’m doing essentially what I was doing before (teaching and freelance graphic designing). I’m disappointed by that, but it’s enabling the life I want outside of work.
I’ll bet I’ve said the words ‘cool’ and ‘sweet’ every day since I was 12.
try-hard: a person who’s transparently and artificially trying to be something they’re not.
I love Greenwood (my new neighborhood). Living next to a grocery store (as a symbol of being in the heart of a metropolitan neighborhood) is a life goal achieved.
Most of my decisions right now (about goals, time, energy) are intentionally self-centered, but not self-serving: I’m prioritizing myself, but not at anyone’s expense. (Pretty sure, anyway.)
Part of the fun of this site is trying to tie up ideas in neat little bundles.
I had the option to teach two classes this fall (HCDE 308, DESIGN 210). They’re similar, but I wasn’t excited until 210, which: 1. has more exercises and critiques (and less lecture) and 2. stops short of type/images/layout (so the focus really is on goals and concepting, where I feel most comfortable).
I’m not into ‘design cynicism’ (a term I made up): believing that, often, 1. bad things are designed by someone-somewhere to be bad (conspiracies), and 2. good things are designed only to appear good, but are actually bad (manipulation).
I think bad things often happen when people don’t consider how their actions might affect someone else (self-serving). Which is different than a design.
This contrast accounts for a good chunk of my grad school frustration.
pleasure-point analysis: learning to “tease out insights concealed in… the satisfaction and distress scattered across our lives.”
Journaling has been really helpful for doing this.
A reason super-interestingness in graphic design bothers me: it’s self-serving (the goal is to be noticed). Clarity is selfless (the goal is to provide information).
GE C-Sleep Bulb. To give me a little more control over the light in my apartment in spite of Seattle clouds.
I use movies as a way to recharge, but to procrastinate, too.
Between Oxide (2012) and Seattle (2014), I spent a lot of my free time socializing. I’ve been in Seattle nearly as long, and I’ve spent most of my free time solo.
“There is only one set of brand values: make more money.” — vlogbrothers
Working on (EcoTab) a freelance UX project. I’m just not into UX. 1. I’m not happy with what I’ve done so far (which is normal), 2. but my subconscious isn’t trying to puzzle it out in between (which is unusual). 3. When I use other apps, I’m not inspired to get to work (the opposite is true with graphic design). 4. I’m procrastinating (and missing deadlines) — overwhelmed and bored at the same time.
Although, I’m still generally interested in design research (even for UX projects).
I have no professional goals right now (other than income). That's true for the first time I can remember. Most freelance work I’m doing now is just trading my time/stress/expertise for bills-paid.
The first (weekly Thursday morning) volunteering at BFI, helping with office things.
Being available during the day is a huge bonus of freelancing.
I don’t want a regular job right now, but if I do some day, it may not be ‘creative’ or ‘design’-related (although every job is both of those).
Vyte meeting scheduler
Although this page is mostly up to date, I usually have past notes in the queue (to review and add to past days). Whenever I do that (like I did today), I feel a little more free to be honest, knowing that fewer people will read it.
“I’m continuing to grow, continuing to get older, continue to do well. At the same time, younger guys continue to come in… at some point, [they’ll] take over and you will have to move on. That’s the law of life.” — Pau Gasol #basketballquotes
And it’ll happen to the young guys some day, too.
Aging is a whole extra layer of basketball that I didn’t think about as a kid. Especially now that I’m older (37 next month) than most guys in the NBA.
Also guys on The Bachelor/ette. I don’t want to be on the show, but I think that's interesting.
CGP Grey explainer video essays
I’m frustrated at how often in everyday conversations people say things that aren’t accurate (intentionally or not). And how often something I’ve said has changed (even a little) by the time it gets back to me.
Spent time at Petco and decided a fish would be too much of a burden on my time. Some kind of pet would be nice, though.
Rotten Tomatoes is a pretty reliable indicator of how I’ll feel about a movie. Even times like this (where I ignore a ‘rotten’ because I can’t imagine not enjoying it… and then I don’t).
Generally, I’ll avoid movies lower than 75% (unless I’m really interested in the director/writer/actors).
And I’m rarely interested in documentaries, indie, animated, or foreign movies (at any %).
I arrived in Seattle two years ago today.
The apartment is coming together (thanks to shelves and storage). I’m feeling a lot more comfortable now, and I’m having fun tiny apartment problem-solving.
I’m considering getting a fish.
Working on the a freelance project for Pilchuck that's a catalog of art pieces. This is straightforward stuff (importing text/images, applying styles, basic layout). It's very little risk creatively, and success is basically objective. It’s production work, but it’s really satisfying, and I’m good at it.
I want more freelance like this.
Dave Grohl played trombone as a kid, too. Big fan of this guy.
I like to make progress on a personal project in the morning (this week: organizing boxes, mostly untouched since Omaha).
On days when I work first, I feel distracted by having these things waiting.
Before that, I spend the first 1–2 hours of most days reading RSS and the New York Times.
Right now, work feels like a nuisance. I rarely start before noon.
I have years worth of reading (books, comics, Instapaper) and video games to get through. This stuff is my priority right now.
I don’t want a job, but I wouldn’t say I’m lazy. My leisure time (maybe especially my leisure time) is structured, and I’m always moving towards a goal and checking things off lists. Always.
I consider myself both really logical and really emotional. It feels like opposite extremes on the same spectrum.
I like it. It’s maybe my defining characteristic. Even if I don’t understand it myself, I’m aging into managing it.
People can be confused by it, but I feel like I'm able to empathize with a wide variety of people because of it.
Jesse said that a public journal frees you from easy categorization (by cataloging contradictory ideas).
I used to define myself narrowly (on purpose) with #solveproblems/#makedecisions. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that now.
There are a few essential people in my life (like Jesse) where conversations are more like explorations. They really help me make sense of what I’m thinking/feeling.
A big switch flipped in my life sometime in the last two years: I’m hyper-aware now of things that don’t feel real: interactions that feel phony/shallow (The Freeze) and communication that feels like a performance/construction (social media, graphic designer culture).
I’m not sure where this comes from. Maybe it would’ve happened at this point in my life anyway. (As a kid, I do remember thinking about phoniness.) But the move and grad school (both pretty isolating) have given me a chance to feel/think-about disconnection.
I like being alone though. It’s a reason I wanted to move to a new city. And especially right now, I’m happy to have so much control over my time.
Took the bus today for the first time since graduation (no free rides anymore). I forgot how helpful it was in keeping up with journaling and emails.
26/31 TITLE days this month. The Omaha trip pushed me to 4th place (no prize). A little miffed.
Job update: This year, I interviewed for one (SMART), applied to two (LEGO, Microsoft Education), and really tried for one (micro:bit, which I think I’m ideal for and looks like fun).
All lukewarm responses. It’s very cool though. Freelance is a better fit for the life I want right now.
I keep thinking about the SMART interview. It’s reminded me of things about the design industry that aren’t for me: 1. inflated jargon (“visual design”), 2. bullshit (“What’s your superpower?”), 3. self-importance (“We are looking for a bit more experience in mobile”), and 4. disingenuousness (“Most of all, we want someone who’s passionate about education”).
Generally, I want to avoid throwing anyone under the bus here. But I've thought a lot about this interview. And it’s been essential in my job decisions since.
23/28 TITLE days this month.
I can spend a lot of time in the aisle at Fred-Meyer/Target with the Command adhesive hooks.
Things I’m enjoying about the new apartment: 1. no shared walls in the main room (a nightmare in Omaha), 2. wood floors (carpet is gross), 3. one sink (one soap, one towel), 4. everything’s close at hand, 5. the laundry machines take cards (no more quarters!).
For the first time ever in my life, all of my books are on shelves. (I don’t own many books, this is more about finally having a place to put them.)
Most still unread (a goal over the next few months).
These are the kinds of things I want to focus on right now. Getting stuff out of boxes and living the life I’ve been planning for a decade.
LFTS: The Dark Knight, Designing The Joker. How the villain affects the decision-making, limitations, and goals of the hero.
Bought bookshelves, a desk, and a (reading/watching) chair at IKEA.
Part of the fun of tiny apartment life so far is finding chances to multitask like this.
I love IKEA.
It’s a common understanding that IKEA products are shoddy and hard to assemble. I totally disagree.
I’m not much into the idea of being a dad until the (fictional) kids are at least 8.
I have fond memories of shopping at Target (in Omaha). It was special because it was so un-Midwest: forward-thinking, practical, uncluttered, sans serif. An oasis.
And always with a disproportionate number of attractive women their 20’s/30’s also shopping.
I use airports as an opportunity to compromise on my (otherwise pretty healthy) diet. Travel is stressful, and it helps.
Jesse and I discussed the absurd advantages of graphic design freelancing as a job (which, relative to most jobs, pays more but is also less demanding on time/place).
Advantages that dovetail perfectly with my goal right now of having as little a job as possible.
But it doesn’t feel fair. What have I done to justify the opportunity to be at home on a Thursday at 11:30a typing this?
For Virdie‘s funeral.
I’m not big on funerals. I’d rather deal with a death on my own. I don’t want my last memory of someone to be in a casket. And making conversation at funerals is complex (are we happy or sad?).
I feel there’s an assumption that showing up means you care. But I think by the time a person dies, the opportunities to show someone they’re important to you are over.
But I’m going to this funeral because I assume it’d be more complicated if I didn’t.
I don’t know what’s actually better for handling social obligations: 1. do what I feel or 2. do what’s easiest.
This trip will affect my chances of winning a prize in the TITLE competition this month, and I’m a little pissed about it.
My goal has been to live in a tiny house some day. I’m just realizing that, as of this week (in the tiny apartment), I’m already there.
19/21 TITLE days this month. The first time I’ve gone 7 days in a row.
An important thing about Friday Night Taco Joe Time is that I’ve given myself 100% guilt-free permission to do only-and-exactly what I love doing. The door (to Tasks.txt, emails, work) is closed. I look forward it all week.
Eating too. I love eating (I probably have a mild food addiction). On these nights, I eat probably too much and get to enjoy it.
I don’t have a lot of email/work to keep up with. But I’m constantly aware of them in the background.
It’s rare to meet someone who asks questions that they’re genuinely curious about and really listens to the answers. These kinds of people are my closest friends, and (when I meet someone new like this) the likeliest kind of person I’ll get along with.
A few times recently, people have said (unprompted) that I’m a patient person. I’m proud of that. I’ve been working hard to chill out in my 30’s.
I’m a little uncomfortable in the new apartment. It’s clear that I need: 1. a chair for watching/reading 2. a desk for working, and 3. to concede that (for now) I need to put more stuff in storage.
Put.io cloud torrent app.
Moved into the new apartment. It’s smaller than I’d choose. But ideally, I don’t want to own more stuff than I could live with in one room (I have a few things in basement storage right now). I like the challenge.
12/14 TITLE days this month.
Is it ridiculous to say that I don’t want a job? That a 9-to-5 might make me miserable? That I have so many books to read and articles saved to Instapaper, etc. that a job would get in the way?
Officially said yes to teaching Color & Composition (210). Despite how I’ve been feeling about teaching, this doesn't feel like an opportunity I can pass up.
“Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is… you make bad decisions.”
There’s a tiny, rotating train ON the train! (I love meta references like this, in all things).
All still (never built) in boxes. I’ve been waiting until I land at an apartment I plan to be for awhile. But I may never feel that way. It’s time to start building.
Using a Simple Goal, I’ve been saving 92¢/day (since November) to buy the latest Modular Buildings at the end of this year.
Kristine asked asked if I’d teach Color & Composition this fall.
This year, I started paying for movies and TV online. But I refuse to accept the you-have-to-have-cable-to-stream-this options (Bachelor/ette, Mr. Robot, USA Basketball). I torrent those guilt-free.
I use Kemerling’s “The Middle” to talk about things like this — being asked to simultaneously do an old and new thing. I use it a lot.
Working on (EcoTab) a freelance UX project. Despite my love of problem-solving and confidence in eventually figuring it out: I hate the first phase of new projects, when so many decisions could go in infinite directions.
But I love it after more limitations have been set.
An example: this week, I had a specific (moving) box and a specific stack of stuff to fit into it. That was fun.
A giant LEGO pile isn’t that interesting to me. But just five pieces? OH yes.
IMDb + Rotten Tomatoes Chrome extension
My favorite part of this movie.
Movie graphic design feels selfless to me: it’s about the film’s ideas, not about being the designer responsible for it.
The Ringer, pop-culture/tech/sports blog
Fontstand font testing/rental app
For this site (goals: square-cornered + super heavyweight + looks good in all-caps + 5% interesting + 95% utilitarian). Yes!
I’ve been tweaking this site from the start (March 2015). Still, there are broken things and things that I’m not satisfied with. But I’m having fun figuring it out, changing my mind, and figuring it out again.
I doubt it’ll ever feel finished, but I like that about it, and it feels like progress.
Upgraded to the 12lb. medicine ball at the gym. Getting fitter.
Real Life Magazine, blog about living with technology
I love living in a city where it’s almost never 90°. Temperature was a criteria for moving here, and it’s been a major factor in my satisfaction with the decision.
Selling furniture on Craigslist. The money exchange can be awkward, but today, the guy buying my dresser counted it out loud before handing it to me, which helped a lot (acknowledging that somebody’s gotta do it).
For two weeks, Taco Bell Friday Night has expanded into Saturday too. Living my life.
“We cannot find food on our own, or choose a restaurant, or settle a tiny debt. Where that dependency feels unseemly in the context of independent adult life, it feels appropriate if the user’s position remains childlike, and the childlikeness makes sense when you consider that Yelp depends on us to write reviews, and therefore must, like a fun mom, make chores feel fun too.”
“[We’re becoming] unable or unwilling to meet our needs without also being entertained. When we learn to expect playfulness from mundane tasks like ordering food or finding a pharmacy, or when we won’t go swimming without a Pokéchaperone, the result is a state of unsuspecting childlikeness, while adults wait in the woods to take their profits.”
My new apartment is super small (211 ft2). It’s a helpful incentive to minimize (even further than my minimizing for the move to Seattle).
I love getting rid of stuff.
But I’m not ready to be an ultra-minimalist yet. It’s gotten easier as I’ve get older, though.
Guesstimating by size, my stuff is: 25% LEGO, 20% clothes, 20% video games and toys, 15% books, 10% drum set, 5% computer, 5% miscellaneous.
I think graphic design (maybe all communication) has two qualities: 1. clarity (unity) and 2. interestingness (variety). They work together, and both have value.
Graphic designer culture tends to prioritize 2 > 1, but I think clarity is way more important (in making sense where there wasn’t before).
I think it’s very difficult to tell the difference between purposeful interestingness and bullshit. And I worry the “competition to make things as noticeable as possible” is making realness harder to find.
I can do clarity, but I struggle with interesting. In my own projects I've been embracing letting go of interesting, but I think it’s working against me professionally.
My interest in teaching is absolutely on hiatus. As a TA, the difference between what I enjoy (being around students, designing projects) and what I don’t (grading, standing in front of class) became really clear. And right now, I just want to focus on the stuff I enjoy.
I had an offer to teach my own UW class this Fall (in HCDE), and I turned it down.
I like relationship movies told from a guy’s point of view (Up in the Air, Hitch, and Definitely, Maybe — three I re-watched this month). But I’m not sure why. I don’t think relationships really work this way. And I’ve mostly lost interest in being in one.
Job update: 1. I’m only interested in jobs that I’m uniquely qualified for and excited about. 2. I’m willing to wait awhile to find it. 3. For now (and indefinitely), I’m happy to freelance from home (doing whatever) instead of taking an (equally unsatisfying) job with an early alarm clock and a commute.
Basically, if it’s not important/interesting to me, I’d like to do as little of it as necessary to pay the bills.
I haven’t had a permanent, full-time job since Oxide (in 2012), and I’m really happy with the last four years (personally and professionally).
I’m realizing that maybe the reason I enjoy movie-watching as much as I do is that it’s the longest amount of time where I really get out of my head. Like really disconnect.
Starting a freelance UX project (EcoTab) that could be fun. If I can pick up a project like this every month-ish, I’ll live a pretty good life.
Spending the week catching up on Desktop files, Esquire, and Links.txt. It’s only after I catch up on these kinds of personal things that I feel ready to work on other people’s projects.
“genealogy of ideas”: The ideas we expose ourselves to lead, directly, to the ideas we have ourselves.
Marc Issacs, everyday life filmmaker
A job has major trade-offs: 1. waking up early, 2. commuting, and 3. devoting a lot of my time/energy to someone else’s ideas. The job I’m looking for would offset these things in some kind of major way.
I try not to feel guilty about buying popcorn/candy at the theater if I’m feeling like popcorn/candy. It’s as much about eating as it is about living the life I want to live.
One of my favorite things to do is sit down with an issue of Esquire and read the whole thing cover to cover.
My top priority isn’t to find a job. It’s to have time/money for boxing, movies, reading, volunteering, and personal projects — in a city where I feel good just being here (Seattle is that place).
CineFix, movie video essays
Prepping to move and reviewing my stuff. It’s gotten easier to minimize as I’ve gotten older (having a clearer sense of what I’m willing to, actually, make time for).
Maybe I’ll find a satisfying ed-design job. Or maybe I’ll find a comfortable freelance gig setting type in instructional manuals. Either way, I don't think a job will be as important as my personal goals.
Monodraw ASCII art app. I have some diagrams planned for this site.
“rules do not make us moral; loving each other makes us moral.”
“somebody is looking out for me, keeping track of what I think about things, forgiving me when I do less than I ought, giving me strength to shoot for more than I think I am capable of. I believe they know everything that I do and think, and they still love me. And I’ve concluded… that this person keeping score is me.”
I’m a (mid-)morning person. With nothing on the schedule, I go to bed at midnight and wake up at 8:30/9:00.
Sold on the apartment. An easy decision after setting neighborhood goals. Nailed it!
The words I use most often on this site are: design, it’s, thesis, feel, people, school, life, love, teaching, projects, ideas.
fundamental attribution error: assuming someone’s behavior reflects their personality instead of (more likely) their situation.
I think I found my new apartment. It’s: 1. relatively affordable, near… 2. a grocery store (next door!), 3. a movie theater, 4. TITLE (I can walk!), and 5. a Taco Bell. Touring tomorrow. Stoked.
Some of the friendliest people in my life here work at and MOD Pizza. This has been a real, unexpected bonus of joining the gym.
Most of the other people in class, though, maintain that Freeze chilliness (which is still weird to me).
Boxing is crazy helpful in working out jobs/leaving-or-staying-in-Seattle anxiety.
Being understood — knowing that my thoughts and feelings make sense to another person — is an essential thing for me. I have these people in my life, and I'm really grateful for it.
Didn’t get the SMART job. I understand: it’s UX, which I’m new to. I applied to a similar job at Microsoft this week, and I’m expecting a similar response.
I’m not even interested in UX. But it’s what’s available in ed-design.
The job I’m really looking for (and a Master’s degree opens the door to, I think) isn’t necessarily even visual. It’s about ideas and connecting dots.
“Some people want it cooked. They just want to put a little icing on it and bite it. But it’s really a process to make one of these great songs. It’s layers. Layers and layers and layers.” — Mike Will Made It
Three Fourths Home video game. Set in Nebraska.
Todd asked if I’d be happy living in Omaha again. I said No. The weather and the conservatism make me uncomfortable. I don’t belong there.
I’ve been wondering if a totally public journal might seem weird. I don’t think it is, but I wonder how it reads. The job search makes the question more pressing, but I’ve always wondered.
Total public-ness is also limiting what I feel comfortable sharing. I could just share non-personal things (links). But reviewing recent posts, I don’t think that’d be as valuable for me.
So, I've removed the homepage link to this page, and the only way to get here is to already know the URL. This gives me the accountability (public-ness), but also more room for sharing (private-ness).
At boxing tonight, the club manager (Greg) asked why I joined the club. My response was that I wanted to be in shape — which he then write on my heavy bag in chalk. It was really motivating.
Lessons from the Screenplay, screenplay analysis video essays
I’m starting to feel pretty anxious about the job search. Or really, the move deadline. I have 5½ weeks until I’ll be leaving this apartment, and moving… who-knows-where.
Aside from the frustration/anxiety of updating this site, it’s been a nice three weeks of waking up without an alarm, seeing lots of movies, and getting back to boxing.
Kerning makes me anxious.
Added TV shows to Great™s
It’s pretty common for me to accidentally find graphic design solutions I really like (by switching on the wrong layer, pasting something somewhere I hadn’t intended to, etc.).
I’m still interested in everyday design, but I don’t have any projects planned around it.
Finally at the making-and-uploading-images phase of this website (v3.0).
TinyPNG image compression
Yummy FTP Lite app
Took the thesis exhibit off the wall. My final_final task as a grad student.
optimal distinctiveness theory: balancing decisions between things that help us fit in and things that help us stand out.
solvem probleming: inventing a problem in order to change an existing thing into its solution (e.g. transforming an illustration into a logo by adding a ‘company name’).
I get my love of movies from mom. Several of the movies she introduced me to are still on my Great™ list (Quiz Show, Scent of a Woman, Uncle Buck).
BitCam pocket computer camera
Working through anything, taking a break is essential for me to figure it out. After the break (exercise, food, sleep, walk to the bus, a different part of the same project), I’ll almost always return with new ideas. Even if I’m feeling good, the break lets me confirm that when I see it again.
Annabelle wrote (on our thesis site): “Joe has been a pleasure to work with over the past two years. He is a terrific designer and just a really good all around individual. Joe is passionate about design and education and his even-keeled manner combined with stellar type skills will serve him well in the future. He was a fantastic TA who really connected with the students and continued to check in on them even after they finished our class. Joe always has a smile on his face and I really enjoyed working with him on his thesis project this year.”
Common Name graphic design studio
I love Seattle, and I’m really hoping to stay here.
“defend without fouling.” The basketball version of advice I received a few years ago from Rod Markin, think about a lot, and have gotten better at since: “The first one to get upset loses.”
Still working on updating this site. Caught in the normal mid-project phase of feeling that I’m taking too long (because job applications await), but not being satisfied, but getting closer, slowly, and starting to have fun.
“it’ll be done, but never I’ll finish it.” — Todd Cramer
Bungee, vertical typeface
The Stupidity of Computers, where likes come from (a thing computers can quantify)
Devoting the week to finishing my portfolio and tweaking this site, planning to start applying for jobs on Monday.
Waking up without an alarm, nowhere to be, monkeying around with CSS, listening to Spotify. It’s a nice little staycation.
My dream jobs are still LEGO and Nintendo, and they haven’t changed since I was seven.
Schools over. It’s time to get a job. And get back to reading, boxing and meditating.
If I teach again some day, I think a fun exercise would be “spot the professional graphic designer bullshit”.
MASTER OF DESIGN
Thesis documentation’s due tomorrow. Still stuff to do. Totally manageable.
First job interview (with SMART).
Starting thesis documentation (the last checkmark). Stoked.
Swarm.fm Spotify notifications
“You seem like a cool guy because you like Banjo-Kazooie.” — Dude at Ballard Coffee Works
I’m half-seriously considering a cool emoji tattoo.
The first thing I want to do after a few stressful days is watch some movies. It’s the best way I know of to disconnect and recharge.
Thesis presentation complete!
I wish I’d recorded the audio, but I didn’t expect it to go as well as it did (really well).
A grad school highlight for sure.
Keynote presentation app
After advice from too many smart people to ignore, I created a LinkedIn profile.
Really looking forward to the conclusion of the grad school phase. Not that I’m overwhelmed, I’m just ready for the next phase — being on a team, making some money, being a person in Seattle, Instapaper queue, new personal project, boxing, drums. Ready.
“If they don’t talk, they don’t get paid.”
I think about BS a lot (with social media, news, teaching, this site). Is this about the idea being shared? Or the person sharing it? And how would we tell the difference?
Media literacy education is teaching kids how to spot bullshit.
Publishing this site is me being OK with the things I like, think, and feel. Being OK with the way my brain works.
Graduation is two weeks from today.
I didn’t figure out how important confidence (or the illusion of it) is until my early 30’s.
I default to socially awkward, but when I remind myself to do confident things (make eye contact, don’t talk just to fill space, smile), it’s just so clearly more effective.
Like today, talking to the cute girl at Sundance movie theater.
A perfect storm of recharging options for the final 14 days of grad school: quality movies in the theater, NBA Playoffs, and Bachelorette. It’s like a dream.
Opening night of thesis exhibit. Even though I still have thesis stuff to do, tonight felt like a legit celebration of the end.
It’s been awhile since my last big event full of friendly faces (definitely the first in Seattle).
It’s crazy to think that everyone I knew tonight I met in the last two years.
I should wear button-up, collared shirts more often. It works for me.
I finally own a suit (jacket). (Pants when I get a job.)
When cashiers give me a choice (“Do you want jalapeños?”), I think I take longer than other people to decide.
I think there’s always a Plan Z. In nearly every situation, I’ll figure something out.
Thesis exhibit installed.
Bryan helped me with (did all of) the animation for my thesis app mockup. This guy’s a pro and a real friend.
Writing thesis lesson plans has been fun. I really enjoy designing projects and exercises (and I think I’m pretty good at it).
There's a real risk for me in the job search. I feel like I’m qualified to do the thing I really want to do (design around education). But it’s super specific, and I’m not all that qualified to do much else.
Thesis.txt (my thesis tasks file) is getting real small._
“Everyone needs to keep a Journal.” — Justin Kemerling
Primarily, this site is for me. But secondarily, my goal is to be an example of someone who really believes in journaling.
I started keeping one (privately) in 2011, and it’s been an incredibly valuable way to get ideas out of my head and really take a look at them.
The public-ness of this site is a new dimension that’s valuable in new ways. Like keeping Omaha friends updated. And holding myself accountable to saying what I really mean and not saying things I don’t.
But a little weird, too. I’m guessing some people are uncomfortable telling me they’ve read this. And others are uncomfortable telling me they haven’t. I totally respect both. Just an interesting thing I haven’t really figured out how to address.
I’m usually dissatisfied with my design projects (in every medium). Since the process is iterative, it’s never finished.
So thesis couldn’t have been done before now. It won’t be done when I graduate. Or ever.
But, if I narrow the scope to just the things I’ve done this school year, I’m happy with it. I think I found a problem, an opportunity, and a solution.
I like waking up knowing I’m spending the day on one project, even if it’s the whole day.
When I tell someone I’m getting a design degree, they’ll often ask “What kind of design?”, and I love that. Because there are so many (∞) kinds.
Graduation is three weeks from today.
I probably reveal more of what I’m thinking/feeling than average.
But I think being a proactive communicator is helpful.
fave economy: the way that likes/favorites incentivize “anesthetized, hypermediated and impersonal exchanges,” and “editing… between the making and sharing”.
Installing thesis exhibit.
I feel like I’ve picked up some really valuable skills in grad school (design-researching, -writing, -interviewing).
I know so little about professional (vs. academic) Seattle.
“Nice rag!” (about thesis exhibit text)
Almost all of my graphic design projects trend toward the same mix of not-very-interesting (visually), but chunky and readable. I’m embracing it, and I wish the world had more of it.
Falconboard recyclable rigid media board.
For thesis exhibit. I’ve always felt awful buying foamcore.
I save links for later in a file named Links.txt. I’ve been spending Friday nights with this list (and Taco Bell), and I really look forward to it.
Mytory Markdown plugin. For syncing Links.txt (a FoldingText file on my computer) to this site.
Andrew Herzog, interaction designer
Another reason I avoid email is that I’m constantly battling two things when I write: being succinct (less words) and being friendly (more words).
Back to the gym after a month off. The break was helpful for staying on top of thesis.
“No comments section.” — Marc Maron
I’m happy with the logo I’ve designed for my thesis project. I still have fun designing logos, figuring out how to seam ideas together.
Despite thesis deadlines, I’ve been spending full Saturdays catching up on journaling, email, RSS, and Tasks.txt. When I get back to work, I can concentrate knowing I’ve zero’d-out these other things.
A helpful part of getting older has been starting to understand why I feel the things I feel.
Brik Book LEGO MacBook case
No luck on micro:bit (for now). But it’s cool. It was easier than I expected to find something legitimately exciting, and I’ve only just started looking.
I hate posing for photos. (Today: for the UW Design website.)
Peer critiques have been an essential part of the whole grad school adventure. There are times when we’re all on the same wavelength, working through ideas, helping each other get unstuck, and it’s a really special thing.
I’ve learned some new things about typography and color in grad school. Mostly from TAing and watching Geoff.
A few years ago, I developed an exercise to teach logo design process (animals + department store products). I’ve used it a few times since (and today in HCDE 508). It’s fun, and it works every time.
I’m wondering if it’s possible to frame ‘realness’ in design terms: is the designer’s goal really what the user/audience thinks it is?
Waiting to hear back about maybe-interviewing for a possible-job with Microsoft Research (micro:bit) and wondering if I’ve exaggerated my chances when telling other people about it.
I keep forgetting that on the other side of thesis I’ll have a master’s degree. The project is so big that I literally stopped thinking of it as a temporary detour in life.
I add 5–10 articles/week to my Instapaper queue and read 1–2. The queue is at 2,024 and I totally intend to read them.
I love living in Ballard. I can walk (walk!) to two grocery stores, a dozen coffee shops, a movie theater, a tailor, MOD Pizza, and Taco Bell. It’s been a dream, and it was one of the goals of the move.
Great™s. I love lists. They help me think.
A collection of lists like this paints a really clear picture of a person.
Jesse’s Resources page is 100% Jesse).
Final two thesis interviews. Altogether, I interviewed seven middle schoolers (four girls, three boys, and their parents).
These two were the best yet (mostly because I found better questions on each call).
I’ve learned a ton about interviewing by just doing it. It’s been super interesting, and I’ve really enjoyed this part of the process.
My favorite questions: Are there rules to using Instagram? How do you learn them? How do you decide what to post? Do you ever delete photos? Does Instagram represent real life?
One of my favorite moments in grad school was (during the first quarter), when Tad walked us through an interview transcript from the interviewer’s point of view.
For thesis, it’s been hugely motivating knowing I’m always less than 7 days away from having to explain to Annabelle what I’ve been up to.
We do a project in HCDE 508/308 where all of the students design a poster using the same text and images, and I love it.
I think a reason graphic design can feel frustrating for me is that a big chunk of the ‘problem’ isn’t really solvable. The success is usually tied to subjective likability (which changes person-to-person and over time) and interestingness (which is relative to all other ideas in the world, now and in the future).
My procrastination is relative. (I’ll often get something done because I have something I want to do less also to-do).
“The work is all that’s happened in the day. It is a process, not a thing.” — Austin Kleon
Recorded a Decisions with Friends interview with Josh. My new plan is to record these at pivotal moments in friends’ lives.
Maybe it’s just spring talking, but thesis feels on track, jobs seem possible, and the (long-lost) mojo is returning.
I’m not really a sit-on-the-grass-in-the-sun kind of guy.
This site has helped me see connections that I maybe wouldn’t’ve without it.
A few times a day, I send myself notes for this site. I try to flesh them out and post within a day. If I don’t post notes for a few days, I do my best to stay true to my original intent.
(I posted this on the 20th).
Journal debt stresses me out a little.
On The Media podcast
Published a portfolio for the job search.
It's maybe 65% complete (content-wise), but the essential projects are here.
Even unfinished, it feels great to have this on the Internet.
I prefer to concept in writing (instead of sketching), but it’s problematic for portfolio-making (leaving me with fewer things to show).
This portfolio is me embracing being totally not interested in graphic design as a job. And I’m feeling great about that decision. (So far.)
For six weeks, I’ve been getting a MOD pizza every Sunday night, and it’s crazy how quickly time is passing between pizzas.
I get so much use out of OS X’s Split View.
My goal is to be far enough ahead on thesis to watch all of the NBA Finals (in June, the last week of school). And The Bachelorette.
Back on portfolio. I’m glad I waited on this. I have a clear sense now of what I’m applying for (design research in classrooms) and what it needs to do (show the process).
Two things from teaching that continue to resonate: alternatives and examples — ways to get thoughts out on the table.
The Principle of Least Astonishment: “intuitive designs don’t surprise us — they just work.”
When I have a deadline coming up (like thesis and portfolio), it’s pretty common for me to wake up in the middle of the night thinking about details.
But a great chance to do some reading.
I like how Kemerling’s writing reads like he actually sounds. (That’s one of my goals here.)
Looking forward to putting the drum set back in action (after the move).
When I want a candy bar (maybe once a month), I usually go for the Peanut Butter Twix.
Microsoft Research presentation on micro:bit.
I asked if they’re looking for people to join the team, and it sounds promising.
Whatever happens next, it’s nice to have recognized that this is the kind of thing I want to do (designing around teaching and learning). And it’s for middle schoolers!
Another aspect of The Freeze that’s been true for me is that people do seem to regularly flake out on getting together.
Emotionally, the new MDes students have mostly mirrored us from a year ago. It’s a rough combo (for me: unprecedented reading, writing, egos, critiques, lack of sleep, solitude, and gray skies).
But good things have come out of those depths for me: 1. this site, 2. making exercise a part of my life, 3. recognizing that movies keep me sane, 4. a deeper appreciation of my free time, and 5. a clearer understanding of what really matters to me at the end of the day.
Overall, I’m really happy with the grad school decision.
My realest conversations are still (by far) with Omaha friends.
It’d be interesting to interview MDes students, before and after grad school. I’m really interested in this kind of before/after documentation.
This interview with Donovan is essentially my ‘before’.
I never followed through on solveproblems.tm or Night School™.
Since grad school, I’m even more motivated to make sure I’m writing as clearly as I can.
In grad school, I’ve learned to legitimately enjoy having my work critiqued.
I usually procrastinate on important things. But I’m learning that if I take a small step (like opening a file), it’s enough to keep going.
“Make the spiritual search more important than the problem.” — Garry Shandling #theprocess
Finally met (role model nice guy) Mike Fretto in person. (The first person I talked to about UW MDes in 2013.)
I’d love to find a job that combines design research + education. I think my portfolio could actually make a good case for it, too.
Being a person looking for a job, I worry that people think I’m networking when I’m just being friendly.
First day of HCDE 508. It's the last class I’m scheduled to TA/teach. That hasn’t been true since I started teaching five years ago (this month).
My ability to communicate clearly in person is affected (mostly) by how often I do it and how well I sleep.
Locked myself out of my apartment. I didn’t have my phone to call my roommate. And even if I could call from another phone, I don’t know her number. Whoops. But it was interesting to realize that I actually was out of options. (A neighbor came home and let me in later.)
Talking about job plans, I’ve been saying “anything could happen”. I love change. But more than any other point in my life, I’m as anxious as excited about what that could (will) mean.
“I do not like anybody putting limits on what anybody wants to do in their life.… These are really important issues to me as a human being and creatively. If someone said, ‘You know… I’m thinking of doing this or that…,’ I’d say, man, you’ve got to go for that. It sounds like that’s what you want to do.” — Garry Shandling
“we’re living inside commercials” — JG Ballard
Still working on my portfolio. But I’m happy with what’s taking shape.
Not surprisingly, I’ve spent most of the time trying to maximize its not-specialness.
I think a lot about authenticity/realness (in graphic design and life).
Hot Rhythmic playlist.
I listen to most music for the beats.
I’ve gotten flak for listening to pop. But I love it, and I’m not embarrassed by it.
This feeling — that people shouldn’t feel shame for being themselves (about anything) — underlies a lot of what I spend time thinking about and hope to help people with (somehow).
I started posting to this site a year ago, and it’s become an essential part of my life.
I’m in a weird place professionally. I’m most interested in design research (which I haven’t done professionally), most able to demonstrate graphic design experience (which I don’t want to do professionally), and most qualified to teach (which I love, but feel ready to move on from professionally).
If I buy a box of graham crackers or vanilla wafers, they'll usually be gone in three days.
Devoting this week (Spring Break) to my portfolio. I don’t have much to show (visually) from grad school. But I’ve learned a lot about design process, research, writing. If I can show that (conceptually), I’ll be happy.
“sympathetic joy”: the opposite of jealousy
Last day of Winter quarter (⅔ through thesis). I’m behind schedule, but the hard part’s done (finding a problem and a solution), I know exactly what’s left to do, and I’m damn happy with what’s done.
Grad school’s been isolating (there’s just a lot of solo work to do). I’ve appreciated the time to focus/think. But I’m really ready to be a person in the world again.
“What’s the most important thing in the world?” “Game Boy. The best magazines are Nintendo Power,… and Mad Magazine. The best artist… is Jim Davis.”
Also me in 1992 (age 12).
Graduation is 12 weeks from today. By then, I’ll have finished thesis, have the exhibit up, have given the presentation, have written the process book, and (hopefully) have found a job.
I only spend 10–20 hours/month on freelance, but it’s started to feel like a lot of free time to lose.
“Spursy”: practical and selfless.
I love The Spurs.
We are a digital experience studio, working with global brands.”
Anything could happen job-wise, but I’m not into in this kind of thing.
Another reason I’m ready to move on from teaching graphic design is that — although I have fun tweaking tiny details in my projects — I don’t think they’re important. And it feels false to tell students they are. Which isn’t helpful in an industry that adores super-slick perfection.
I can’t exactly prove it, but I think I’d be really good at design research.
I edit posts here to tweak line breaks. Mostly to avoid widows, but also because I like the editing challenge.
Type Sample bookmarklet
Spent all weekend on thesis app, and I’m at the point where I’m having fun.
It’s been the usual arc when I make things: 1. I procrastinate to avoid 2. the anxiety of decision-making, until eventually 3. I’m excited to wake up and get back to it.
I still can’t get over how Seattle strangers interact. Often (navigating a crowd, walking down an aisle at the movie theater, holding a door), people won’t make eye contact. It's weird.
I’ve switched to all free or paid-for fonts (movies, too).
PDF Expert app
Dropping in on the juniors and sophomores to see final projects this quarter (the first of four classes today).
I love seeing these kids learn, change, and find their way. The process!
Compared to any portfolio I could build (am building), this journal is the best document I’ve ever had of how I think and what design means to me.
I didn’t get the LEGO job, but I’ll try again.
“Joe said that every decision should have a reason behind it.”
HCDE 308 student
Winky Dink and You, the first interactive TV show
I often journal from the bus.
Added an RSS feed here, updated after 24-hours (so I have time to edit).
EmojiOne, open-source emojis
Sometimes I’ll think about something for awhile before I figure out why.
Working on the thesis app. On graphic design projects (in this case, UI) I’m always battling to balance the expectation of special with my preference for not-special.
A Practice for Everyday Life graphic design studio.
I don’t enjoy the choosing-typefaces-and-finding-the-shtick phase of graphic design projects. But once those limitations are set, I do enjoy the making-the-pieces-fit phase.
“intellectualizing emotions” _ Heather Havrilesky
Two more thesis interviews. It’s interesting (every time) to hear kids’ response to: “tell me about this photo.”
The interviews are my favorite part of thesis.
I'm a huge fan of Back to the Future. II is my favorite, for the same reason I like Toy Story 3 and Creed: the problem-solved of having mined depth from a finished story.
I’m always thinking about how things come to be. The process. I love it.
An unexpected thing about grad school is that at the end of the thesis year (now), the job search is the real priority.
Pivot, screen rotation app
Bought an iPad for thesis. I’d planned to keep it for myself, but within a day, I changed my mind. My current three-gadget system (MacBook, iPhone, Kindle Paperwhite) feels right.
I chew way more gum than anyone else I know.
“implicatory denial”: disputing a fact to avoid the effects of admitting it’s true.
I reference saved links on this site quite a bit.
I think about food a lot, and I definitely use it as a reward/diversion (including now, MOD Pizza Sunday Nights).
I’ve been itching to work on my portfolio site (unexpectedly) — after realizing it should include teaching and personal projects, too. Which sounds fun.
I think about this Garry Shandling profile often.
On my walk to the bus, Bob the Barber still waves every day from across the street.
At UW, I’ve spent time learning about teaching (in workshops, lectures, and two classes), and I like being around teachers.
I’m still really interested in the things classrooms can do. Maybe a job that combines education and design?
I’m having fun writing lesson plans (for thesis).
Media literacy is taught mostly by asking questions, and I’ve been thinking a lot about them (in these lessons, thesis interviews, and design research jobs). I’ve been practicing.
Discover Weekly continues to deliver.
When I like a song, I save it to my ★ playlist. I’ll listen to it 15–20 times (over a few weeks) and eventually move it to the 20×× Good™ or Great™ playlist. (Great™ songs are posted on this page.)
I started saving annual Great™ playlists in 2006.
One of the big changes in my life since grad school is that I’m hyper-aware of time trade-offs (time spent on one thing is time not-spent on other things).
And of the essentialness of making time for movies, boxing, and Taco Bell Friday Nights.
Applied for a job at LEGO. No matter what happens next, I’m stoked to be at a point in my career where I feel qualified to have done this.
I think better and procrastinate less if I focus on one project a day. Today and tomorrow, portfolio. Sunday, Film Streams freelance.
Received some reassuring thesis feedback from a middle school teacher. I pitched him on testing my lesson plans with his class, and he’s in.
My first Husky hoops game to celebrate this solid week.
Transparent Folders. I discovered these at UW last year, and I love them.
Thinking about examples. In a presentation, I said an icon for ‘chai’ should feel distinct from an icon for ‘coffee’, and that clicked.
I look forward to catching up with RSS every morning.
ASCIIFlow ASCII art creator
LEGO Boxer Minifig. New desk buddy.
I’m using thesis reading/writing as a chance to spend more time in UW’s Reading Room.
Beginnings, interviews about breakthrough moments in peoples’ lives
“a child’s eyes rove over the whole field of phenomena, and suddenly one thing clicks, and it’s like magnets clicking together to form a chain that the person is attached to for the rest of their lives.”
Halfway through Winter quarter. I haven’t been meeting my goal of 40 thesis hours/week, but I’m happy with the progress.
It’s a choice. I’ve been making time for reading, movies, and boxing.
I’ve scoped thesis to a point that still feels fun, valuable, and manageable. Really enjoying the thesis-life balance.
2016 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Aaron Gordon vs. Zach LaVine
I’ve been to three design research talks this month (Adobe, Amazon, Microsoft). I don't have the credentials, but I think I’d be good at it anyway.
SleepMute, automatically mute Macbook on sleep
BLOKK mockup font
Dating a memoirist illustration
I love the word ‘chunk’, and I do it often (graphic design, writing, time management).
appear.in video chats
“I write to figure out what I think about anything.”_ — A.O. Scott
I’m pretty productive if I schedule a movie at the end of the day, knowing there’s a time limit and trip to the theater on the other side.
I’m getting better at the speed bag and jump rope.
Read a job posting for a graphic designer, described as someone who wants to “make things beautiful”. Not that beauty isn’t valuable, but I’m not motivated by or good at it.
For the first time since the move, a day full of good conversations in lots of places.
I underestimated how much a new city + grad school would affect even the smallest moments with people — and how important those are to me.
I’m looking forward to finding a job, being on a team, and making days like this a regular thing again.
Fourth thesis interview with a middle schooler. I don’t think I’m very good at interviewing, but I’m excited to keep practicing.
Pixeljoint. I love obvious limitations (pixels, LEGO).
I feel anxious standing in front of classes. It hasn’t changed much/at-all since my first class (in 2011). Despite feeling confident in my ability to teach, and otherwise having fun being in class.
Wrote a revised thesis proposal (3.0), which wasn't required. And I’m well into the plan. But I’ve learned in grad school that explaining an idea to someone else is helpful for even figuring out what I mean.
Actually, I knew this from teaching. But I’m embracing writing as a tool now more than ever (also with this site).
And I still have fun setting type and laying stuff out.
Thesis is coming together, but however it turns out, my favorite grad-school-era project will be this site.
I’m curious about design research as a job (it’s interviewing people, mostly about decision-making).
My dream job has always been (and still is) LEGO-anything.
Journalist audio editor
Talking to Justin last month, he described his blog as “reporting” (observations and investigations, presented publicly). That’s been helpful for thinking about this site.
My first trip to Seattle was Nov 2013, and I stayed in a part of downtown I hadn’t visited again until today. I reconnected with memories I had (then) of thinking about a possible future (now).
I really look forward to new episodes of The Bachelor. Like seriously, which has been a complex thing to explain. (And embarrassing, but I’m mostly over that.)
Here’s why: I’m fascinated by relationships, feelings, and choices — especially people talking about them.
And women in hot tubs.
Boxing takes 2½ hours round-trip, and it feels like a chunk of my day. But I never regret making time for it.
Reading this J.J. Abrams profile, and his career (like lots of people) started in middle school.
Each of the kids I’ve interviewed has a serious hobby already (producing music, playing football, flying planes).
I decided I wanted to be a graphic designer in middle school. And here I am, working on an MDes.
One of the things I’ve learned from teaching is the power of examples.
In thesis interviews, I’ve been explaining ‘ideal’ with examples (mostly from @socality), and it’s working.
Modern Love podcast
First thesis interview with a middle schooler, and it couldn’t have gone better.
Mecabricks, digital LEGO 3D modeler
Reading more about real vs. ideal self and reconsidering idealized social media messages as (surprisingly) positive things_ — “hopes, aspirations, or wishes” — goals (everyday design).
Finally licensed and insured my car. I said before the move that I couldn’t wait to be car-free in Seattle. Turns out even excellent public transit can be impractical (for things like groceries and boxing), and I missed driving.
Metromile per-mile car insurance. Because I’ll still mostly use the bus.
I avoid emails because it takes me so long to write them.
Writing recommendations for a few favorite sophomores, and it’s easy because they’re really good at being students: asking questions, making changes, just proactively and egolessly learning.
Grad school’s been a complex balance of feeling like I need to prove myself, but also feeling mostly out of my depth. I think I’ve gotten better at it over the last year, and I credit the sophomores (and now-juniors) for showing how it’s done.
“big talk”: meaningful conversation; the opposite of small talk
Sampling social media apps (for thesis), and I’m legitimately into Yik Yak.
It’s interesting that when people are anonymous, they veer immediately to the real stuff (feelings and relationships).
I’m really interested in the dynamics of relationships. Not just romantic ones. But all the ways people negotiate the other people in their lives.
For most projects, my initial ‘sketching’ is just list-making (in FoldingText). It helps me think when I can edit and keep ideas organized.
I’m going to try to get a job without LinkedIn. I have no idea if that’s realistic.
Spent the week burning through last-minute thesis reading, and I’m glad I did. I think this study on real, ideal, and false selves is the thing I needed to tie everything together. Hopefully.
Karan Singh, illustrator
Oh my Gosh, Zilla, social media deception project
I’ll take any excuse to avoid writing/replying-to emails.
A thing I miss about teaching (vs. TAing) is designing lessons/critiques. I’ve had a few chances at UW (one today in HCDE 308).
It’s helpful for me to visualize time.
I started doing this after seeing Your Life in Weeks.
Spent 47½ hours this week reading/prepping for thesis (all in Pomodoros). Blocking out time was really helpful. I’m feeling ready.
Thesis is (for real this time): a mobile journaling app for middle schoolers that helps deconstruct and reflect on social media messages.
Grad school’s given me lots of new things to think about (in every part of my life). But academically, the big ideas are 1. everyday design and 2. media literacy. Things I loved already without realizing they were things, and I now have the resources to keep learning about.