Thoughts and observations about design ideas

Sports logos in North Texas
All the men's teams logos include a Lone Star (or two).

A better logo for the NYC team in the new National Women's Hockey League

The logo for the New York City team, The Riveters, is based on the classic Rosie the Riveter image from the Westinghouse poster by J. Howard Miller. (The name, Rosie, came from Norman Rockwell's iconic painting for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post).

As always, there is a better way. The logo starts with a decent concept - the strong woman from a familiar and recognizable image vowing she can do it. The grey text with rivets along its structure and the plaque/shield border enhance the Riveters name. But, it needs some minor tweaking:

• Moved the grey border between the fist and head to go straight across, rather than at that awkward angle.
• Enlarged the red background rectangle to better balance the flesh elbow mass and better frame the Riveters line of type.
• Better kerned the V and T in Riveters - tightened them up which pulled that line in so the lower outer corners don't break out of the background shape.

This graphic mark seems to send the wrong message

This is from an ad campaign to decrease drinking and driving in Oklahoma.

Above: Existing, with the letters filling up with beer (or scotch or whiskey).
Below: Another option, with letters emptying of beer and without those useless horizontal white lines. But, I'm just not sure which one, or either, is appropriate for the message. The concept is not about drinking less or finishing your drink. It's about not drinking at all when driving. While the existing option sends the wrong message, the other one might say to finish your beer before driving.

A better way to check out

This happens too often, at too many stores - the cashier can't find or reach the UPC code on the package with the scan gun. He/she or the customer has to wrestle the object in position so the gun can reach it to scan the code. In the above example, the code is buried and hidden in the very lower right wrinkles. The cashier has to take the bag out of the cart to access the code.

The solution is so simple
Print 4 UPC codes - one in each upper corner, front and back of the bag. Then, no matter how the customer places the bag in the cart, the cashier can easily find it and the scan gun can reach it.
• Negatives: there are none - no additional cost.
• Positives: Great additional convenience - faster and easier checkout. Better for the cashier, the customer, and the people in line behind the customer.
Below left: Existing top of the bag. Right: Better.

A trendy resurgence of the barbed quatrefoil shape
The quatrefoil is a decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape of four partially overlapping circles of the same diameter. The word quatrefoil means "four leaves" as in a rose or four-leaf clover. The symbol shape reached peak popularity during the Renaissance era and in Gothic architecture, where a quatrefoil may be seen at the top of a Gothic arch, sometimes filled with stained glass. It's probable that it has roots in Islamic architecture. The barbed quatrefoil (2nd & 3rd below) is a quatrefoil pierced at the angles by the points of an inscribed square, which gives an image of a rose - "barbed" due to the thorns which project at the intersection of each pair of petals. The earliest example of the barbed quatrefoil appears on the south transept buttresses of 1260 in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

The current trendy shapes, modified quatrefoils, are popular and soon to be subject to overuse. We'll see how it shakes out in design history.

Thanks to Amy Hurley and Wikipedia for the info.

Bill Nye's Life Advice

What's the best advice you've ever received?
"Everybody you ever meet knows something you don't." A cab driver told me that, 30 years ago, and I'm reminded of it every single day.
What did you learn from your dad, who was a prisoner of war in WWII?
My father and mother emphasized two things: Every person is responsible for his or her own actions, and, to the best of your ability, leave the world better than you found it. That's why I say that sometimes you've got to pick up other people's trash. Just because somebody else filled the atmosphere with carbon dioxide is no reason not to address the problem. We're all in this together.
You've publicly debated creationists. What's your philosophy about engaging people who willfully deny scientific evidence?
You know that guy is not going to change his mind no matter what happens. Evidence is not that compelling for him. A key question that was posed to us was, "What, if anything, would change your mind?" And I went on about "well, if the speed of light is not the speed of light; if you can show that the microwave radiation from the big bang was from something else." My opponent said nothing would change his mind. Nothing. Evidence doesn't matter to that guy or his followers.
Does religion play any role in your life?
Not anymore. I read the Bible twice when I was in my twenties. Then I realized the people who wrote it knew nothing of people in China. They knew nothing of first Americans. They were just playing the hand they were dealt. Also, women are not treated very well in the Bible. It made me skeptical of the whole thing. I gave it a shot, I really did. I'm pretty confident that humans made the whole thing up. Seriously. But when it comes to "is there a God or not?" I'm the first to point out you can't know. I'm agnostic. You can't prove there's a God or not. I accept that. Some people find that very troubling. I find it empowering and cool.

Valuable lesson from the late 1970s

For fun, when I was in my 20s, I enrolled in Intro to Interior Design at EastField College in Dallas. The matronly instructor who spoke with an air of authority and respect discussed priorities. A sofa or chair with a bright busy print might look great in the showroom, in a catalog, or even in the living room - but imagine what will happen when a guest with a busy print, striped, or colorful dress sits on that sofa. Not so great anymore.

Take a look at Andrew Lloyd Webber at some Red Carpet opening event. Poor choice for a backdrop (or a shirt):

Her lesson: the people in the room are the most important design elements in a space. Design around them, not despite of them.
That has stuck with me for decades - the users are the most important design element, not color, shape, placement, typography; but, the people that will benefit from the piece.

How to make the One World Observatory a bit better
There is a new tourist attraction in New York City - the observation deck at the top of One World Trade Center, the 2nd tallest building in America (Willis/Sears Tower in Chicago is #1, unless you count the antenna at WTC, then WTC is #1). Overall, the experience was quite well done, but here are some ways to make the One World Observatory even better:

• Provide seating
Many people have been standing for at least an hour before they get up to the Observatory, then they find that there are no seats. Total time at OWO is well over 2 hours - standing the entire time. It seems somewhat inconsiderate and disrespectful (especially of senior citizens) to require them to stand for hours.
There are plenty of places to place some seats (like along the curve of the SkyPortal platform) that won't congest the viewing areas. As it is now, people sit on the steps to the SkyPortal (maybe a fire hazard?) or on the ventilation ducts along the windows which block prime viewing areas.

• Create a bypass line at the Photo Booth
At the photo taking area, I and several others asked for no picture to be taken. The very nice young woman told us to just go straight through the crowd. I thought how awkward - I have to wait or walk in front of the photographer to get by. Once through, I noticed the aisle towards the windows that could easily have been the bypass route. I realize they want to sell photos and encourage guests to have their photo taken, but it would have been so easy for her to tell us to step to the left of the white column and move beyond the photo area. Less congestion, less confusion, less discomfort, and less awkward. Such a simple effective solution. Somebody just wasn't thinking.
• Reorganize the dining area
So much amiss here: too few chairs, an awkward pay station (I saw two people just go to the seating area with their free coffees and cookies), no trash bin by the coffee fixings, and no trash can in the seating area - there were several dirty tables and some people wandered around with their trash looking for a place to put it. They gave up and set it on a table.
• Minimize the line confusion on the street level plaza
My goodness, where do we go? We had tickets, but the line in front seemed like the right one. Nope, that's to buy tickets. So, we got out of that line and had to ask an attendant where to go. There should be better signage or announcements to guide the visitor to the correct line.
• Remove the scene in the film where we fly into the tower
During the elevator trip back down, the animation takes us outside the building and then straight into it (just like you're on a plane flying into the building). In our elevator, there was an audible gasp. Others knew why but nobody said anything. Very uncomfortable.
• Commission a new design for the branding

The awkward W that doesn't quite fit the supposed inspiration of the top of the building. And why emphasize the W? In the type treatment, the word One gets as much prominence as the World. And, absolutely no one will refer to the observatory as W or The W, or even the OW, or OWO. More likely, The Observatory, The Observatory at the WTC, the WTC Observatory, The WTC, or The World Trade Center.

I wrote the OWO with these suggestions and got back an automated reply that someone would contact me within 24 hours. That was on July 6, 2015 (and re-sent on July 14). I am still waiting for a reply - even just a courtesy reply (Thanks for visiting and writing). Still, nothing. That might help explain why the customer experience is not so great. The views, however, are outstanding.

Left: Clever design for New Years. Its a mirror ambigram - the 2 flops down to become the 5. It was designed by Frank Nichols, a New York designer, as his New Year's card for 2005.
Right: This is so cool - an umbrella that lets in some light and forms a dappled shadow - like the canopy of light that filters down to the forest floor. It even comes with the bird on top. It is from a design collaborative in Holland called Droog (rhymes with rogue). There is an exhibit at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York city of many of their products. Fantastic stuff - functional and imaginative. Link to their website.

At Nathan's Original hot dog stand at Coney Island, I saw these two different ways to get ketchup and mustard. The one with the color-coded support arms communicates more clearly. Neat idea. And the hot dog was excellent.

When you pay the suggested admission of $8 at the Brooklyn Museum, you get this tag on a string to wear to show the guards that you paid. This is common practice in museums - to provide something to wear on your person. Most museums use metal buttons with fold-over tabs or an adhesive-backed sticker to put on your clothes. This was the first time I got one with a tie string, presumably to wrap around a button. I and my friend were each wearing tee-shirts. Where do you put it on a tee-shirt? I asked the ticket seller behind the counter. She said some kids wear it around their wrist. Not going to work for me - the loop was not big enough. She also mentioned she had heard others question this, also. This is just bad design - to produce a wearable tag that has to be tied or wrapped around something. Is this museum not aware of how many people wear tee-shirts. now, especially in the summer?
Note on museum admissions - I have long felt that teachers should get into any museum for free. Reasons: 1. Teachers don't get paid enough and this is one way for corporations to supplement pay and benefits. 2. Teachers are great salespeople for museums. They schedule field trips, encourage students to visit museums, share info from the exhibits in class. Some museum visits are necessary study and research for many teachers.
Above right: here's how I wore the tag from the Brooklyn Museum - I slid my glasses frame through the string loop. The ticket seller laughed and the guards got a kick out of it. A few minutes later in a crowded elevator, a whole bunch of school-age kids were giggling and laughing at the silly old man with the tag on his face. I continued with a serious conversation, swinging the tag all over my mouth and face. That just made them laugh harder. Stupid, unresponsive design that turned into something fun (and silly). After I got tired of the annoying string in front of my face, I removed the tag and put it in my pocket. If I had been stopped by a guard I would have shown him/her the tag and commented that I couldn't find a place to tie it to my tee-shirt. Of course, the guard wouldn't really care, but maybe someday, someone will address this design problem and make it better - for the museumgoer and the museum.

I was sitting at the Border's Books on 59th and Lexington (I had just come from seeing the Frank Gehry collection of jewelry at Tiffany's on Fifth Avenue). I was watching people meander around the store when one person approached this narrow passage, stood on the floor, and the floor moved. First it moved her forward about two feet (her feet didn't move) and then - and I'm not making this up - the floor she was standing on began to move up at an angle, like a staircase but she didn't have to climb the steps. By golly, she just stood there. What a great invention that is. You stand on the floor, don't move, and the floor takes you up to the next level. You just stand there. Holy cow. What's next - a small room that goes straight up and down?

This is so common: phone booths sit idle. Each should be transformed into charging stations. More public bathrooms ought to have both a toilet and a urinal - solving the messy seat up or down issue.

The other day, I got inside a machine that I store at my house in a special room. I sat in a comfortable adjustable chair and by moving my feet and arms this machine smoothly transported me to wherever I guided it to go. I sat in a lounge chair, in a climate-controlled environment, and listened to music on a custom sound system of songs that I had programmed earlier. I was quite comfortable and without having to exert much energy, I was transported to stores and restaurants, all in a matter of minutes. I call this amazing machine my PTU, Personal Transit Unit. What a great age we live in. We no longer have to walk or ride a horse to get around.

Showing the credits for a movie after the movie has begun is like putting a picture behind text in a print ad. Its annoying - if the director wants me to get into the picture, don't interrupt with stuff to read - stuff that I don't need or even want to read. And if the director wants me to read these credits, don't interrupt them with dialog, visuals, or plot. I came to see a movie. Boosting the egos of the production crew and stars is useless. Let me just watch the movie. If I really care or want to know who the cinematographer, costume designer, or grip was, I'll sit through the credits at the end.

You know how, when you get a margarita, sometimes there is too much salt to sip? Sean has a great solution - he just slides the lime around a bit and it cleans the glass. When you're out drinking margaritas (or in drinking margaritas) you don't want any more hassles than necessary; you want life to be easy, hence, the lime glass cleaner.

Fun at the Oklahoma State Fair • Pizza on a Stick!

I don't quite get all the flack against Walmart. Some say they pay low wages, have poor health coverage, and hurt communities where they open up a new store. When I was a kid, we had these same conversations about shopping malls - they were killing downtown shopping. And they did. But we liked the convenience, ease of free parking, and selection of stores and activities. Malls became the new 'Main Streets'. We flocked to the malls just as we now flock to Walmart. Here are some statistics from George Will of the Washington Post:
• 325 jobs available at a new Walmart in a suburb of Chicago - 25,000 people applied, 25,000 people who felt they would be better off with the alleged low wages and poor health coverage.
• Walmart accounted for 13% of the nation's productivity gains - makes Walmart about as important as the Federal Reserve in holding down inflation.
• Walmart causes the loss of about 50 retail jobs among competitors - but Walmart creates 100 new jobs (net gain of 50 new jobs).
• Walmart saves shoppers over $200 billion a year - more than food stamps ($29 billion).
• Walmart saves grocery buyers 17% (Walmart has 20% of the USA's grocery business).

Got into a discussion with Beau (who lived in Australia) and Julie (who lived in London) about Aussie rules football, soccer, and American football. Calling soccer, a sport where the hands can't touch the ball, football makes a lot of sense - its mostly about running and kicking. American football is not really about the feet - its passing, running, and some kicking; but the ball is mostly touched by hands. Should we call it Handball? No, that's already the name of a game that uses hands extensively. How about Runball or Passball. That makes sense. Okay, from now on, I'll call it Runball. Or Passball. Or Touchdownball. Just not Football.

This doorhanger is a great application of an ambigram - a word or phrase that can be read right-side-up or upside-down. Even the package design is an ambigram. No matter how the store stocks the products on the shelf rack, it will be oriented correctly. A brilliant way to communicate how it works. More on ambigrams by John Langdon. This Grandfather Clock is one of many great products from Thwart Design.

Great idea: wireless pizza. There are machines that can digitize photos and documents. Now we need a machine, about the size of a toaster oven with a USB or FireWire connection, that can digitize a pizza. The digitized info can then be transmitted wirelessly to another machine where the pizza is translated back to analog from digital. These machines could even be installed in cars. I am now looking for investors to fund this new Wi-Fi-Pi venture. Please contact me ASAP so we can get started. Thanks.

A current buzzword among celebrities is "I want to give back."
What did they take? I am concerned because using this phrase is a symptom that one is not a thinker, but a follower. They use the phrase just because its a trendy buzzword right now that sounds impressive and altruistic. But, for those who give to their community and are thinkers, the phrase doesn't make sense.
A good person doesn't give 'back', one simply gives of him or herself. That's impressive enough.

I am confused by the name, Little Bo Peep. Did Mr. & Mrs. Peep name their tiny daughter 'Bo' or did they name her 'Little Bo'? Is Bo even a good name for a girl? The Peeps? See, this kind of stuff baffles me. Here it is 2:30 in the morning and I'm awake and confused by this name (and why would anyone name someone Humpty Dumpty). I checked online to find out how to contact the Peeps (I thought I would just ask them why they chose that name) but could only find businesses named Peeps. One was an insurance agency and the other was a restaurant in Florida - Le Peep.

So I was walking somewhere in New York and saw a slogan or title that said - 'Power Up'. It occurred to me that Power Up backwards spells Pure Wop. Now, I'm not real sure what Pure Wop is (or even wop that isn't pure) but there must be some cosmic connection there. Power Up to Pure Wop. Maybe like 'give someone a wop upside the head'. And a powerful wop, at that. Just something to think about.
I also wonder if, somewhere in the universe, there is a woman named Pam Yawbus. Google found no such name. But Pam Yawbus is Subway Map backwards. That just can't be a coincidence. I suspect it is some sort of code used by transit workers (or the Yawbus family while in New York). There is likely some deeper meaning that is just not obvious to us mere mortals. More shit to think about.

When I drive to and from Edmond OK and Manhattan NY, I pass numerous Interstate highway interchanges that are full of services for motorists - fuel, food, stores, repairs, motels, amusements, etc. Some of these interchanges are small communities that rely on the traffic stopping for their survival. They are a unique part of the American landscape - created and maintained for the convenience and pleasure of mobile Americans - tourists, business people, and truckers. We need a name for these places. Travel Plaza, Services, Service Center. How about 'Stopping Center'. From Shopping Center but expressing the unique attribute - we stop at these places to interrupt our journey for a few minutes or overnight to take care of our needs and wants.

The shelf display looks like a big bowl of ice cream with photo-realistic images of scoops of ice cream on the top of the bowl package. There are slots for the scoops to sit in that support them for display - beneath the photo is a layer of styrofoam. The shopper gets to view the product and see it in 'use'. It is also more eco-friendly since each scoop doesn't need its own box or label. I saw this in an outstanding natural/organic food store in Lawrence, Kansas, the home of the University of Kansas and the new home of good friends, Lon (former UCO Professor) and his wife Janet.
Spent an afternoon visiting and touring the Hallmark Cards design offices with Casey, a UCO grad and former adjunct teacher. We then drove around KC and shot fotos of the two houses that Walt Disney lived in after his family moved from the small town of Marceline, Missouri to Kansas City. Other KC sights: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (see below) and Country Club Plaza, one of the first shopping centers built in the USA. Later in the weekend, I had coffee with Brandon, another UCO grad, who works at an ad agency in Lawrence. Lawrence is a great town and KC is a great city. Fun weekend - and the New York Giants won the Super Bowl.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City

Looking from the office suite towards the main entry and the Cafe beyond. The ramp on the right leads down to the galleries. From left to right: the information desk, ramp to the new galleries, doors to the Sculpture Park, and facade of the original building.

A fountain sculpture in the new Noguchi Court. The Sculpture Park and the original building can be seen outside. Rush Hour, a sculpture by George Segal greets visitors. New building on the left, original building on the right.
The fotos above are of the great new addition to the classic Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Designing an addition to a building can be a tough task - how to respect the existing and yet provide new spaces. Options:
     1. Mimic the original structure
     2. Encase or disguise the original
     3. Visually overwhelm the original with a more powerful new structure
     4. Convey a few original elements in a subtle new building
     5. Ignore the original completely
     6. Build a new structure that has minimal visual ties to the original but respects its style and mass
The addition to the Nelson-Atkins by Steven Holl Architects works well - the structures are such a departure in their asymmetry, clean lines, and masses of walls and glass that they do not even try to fit in with the classic building. The new entry joins the sections quite well and allows each to hold its own importance for the visitor. Febuary

Concerning the issue of underage drinking - the problem is not one of underage drinking. If we state that it is, then we will likely fail. Alcohol doesn't force itself on us - we make conscious decisions to drink it. People not of legal drinking age will chose to drink - its a part of the rite of passage in American culture, whether we like it or not. The problem is drinking too much - more than the body can safely metabolize, often brought on by binge drinking. If we recognize that, then we might be able to address the problem and make things better, with the goal to help develop drinkers who are willing and capable of making intelligent and responsible decisions. We have learned (hopefully) that prohibiting something is simply not effective. Prohibition seems to increase desire, as it did in the early 1930s. Prohibiting the American teenager (no matter the age) from drinking is not working, nor will it ever work.
Some recommendations to consider:
    1. Continue to educate young people through schools, churches (just declaring drinking alcohol a sin won't do it), and, especially, in the home. Provide materials and incentives for educators/parents to discuss the harmful effects of alcohol. We may then minimize ignorance - to help one make a more intelligent decision concerning their physical and mental health, the burden on society and the judicial system, the dangers of drunk driving, relationships, embarrassing behavior, and one's own dignity.
    2. Change the legislation that requires 3.2 beer in Oklahoma. 3.2 often encourages young people to drink more in order to feel a 'buzz'. So, the 3.2 legislation helps develop habits of overdrinking - probably the opposite of what it was intended to do.
    3. Remove inducements for binge drinking, such as Nickel beer night, Bottomless cup, Ladies drink free, Happy Hour drink specials, Half-price drinks, etc. These all encourage people to drink too much and/or to binge drink. Bar and restaurant owners should impose this on their own. If not, legislation may be necessary.

Fun trivia from the Internet
• No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple (other than, of course, bunth, flornge, pilver, and slurple).
• 'Dreamt' is the only English word that ends in the letters 'mt'.
• There are only four words in the English language which end in 'dous': tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous (I can also add baldous and gregaldous to that list).
• The shortest common word that contains all 5 vowels: sequoia. The 2 words in the English language with all 5 vowels in order: abstemious and facetious. All 5 vowels plus Y: facetiously.
• A 'jiffy' is an actual unit of time - 1/100th of a second.
• Almonds are a member of the peach family.
• If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

The Liberty Science Museum across the Hudson River in New Jersey recently reopened with an impressive new addition and new exhibits. The day I went, however, was also the day that 2,000-3,000 kids from the Police Athletic League went. Despite that noise and crowd, I observed some neat stuff:
• In the IMax theater (where I saw a big movie about Hurricane Katrina and the loss of wetlands in Louisiana) a chaperon was telling his charges, "Move down" (he meant move down the row). The kids looked confused. That had just climbed up the steep aisle stairs looking for seats. The chaperon could have meant "Move down" (to another row). 'Move down the row' and 'move down a row' are very similar commands. Often, the context helps us determine which is meant, but, in this case, the context didn't help much - "Move down" could have easily meant either option. He had to keep repeating himself and gesturing before the kids understood exactly what he meant.

View across Hudson Bay to Manhattan - I can see this museum from my apartment window
•  Exhibits that were 'hands-on' were much more popular than those with just text, images, or stuff to look at. Kids even punched 'buttons' that were actually just bolts or circles. This generation has gotten used to a push-button world that was the stuff of science fiction not too long ago.
• In the Communications exhibit, a father was getting impatient with his girls who were at a busted exhibit. "Come on girls, that's not working." "Come on." he repeated. He probably couldn't understand why anyone would stay so long at an out-of-order exhibit. Finally, one of the girls turned to him, "We're pretending". How cool - the girls found a way to make the exhibit work - just use your imagination. Old guy couldn't see it cuz he probably lost his inner child a while back. The girls played a bit longer, then joined dad and the rest of their party who had moved on.
• Some of the exhibits had a phone number listed next to them so you could call on your cell phone to hear an audio tour explanation about that exhibit.

According to recent research studies - wearing a seat belt allows drivers to feel more secure and confident and, therefore, take more risks and drive more dangerously. Wearing a bicycle helmet allows automobile drivers to feel the cyclist is more experienced and more in control of their bike and, therefore, can be approached with less caution, resulting in more danger for the cyclist.

Some names that were originally trademarked but lost their legal trademark status: aspirin, cellophane, dry ice, escalator, heroin, kerosene, linoleum, nylon, raisin bran, shredded wheat, trampoline, zipper.

Okay, I'm confused - how should we drive when we're not in the Traffic Safety Zone? With unsafe driving skills? Shouldn't we be encouraged to always drive with safe driving skills?

Good examples of why one shouldn't put text on the front of a booth or counter. It may look good on the drawing pad and during set-up, but, once the doors open, people will stand there and obscure the text. NC State was smart enough (and there were a few others) to post their sign name above the table.

This is a cool product - a watch showing all 24 hours in a day. The idea of breaking a complete day into two parts is sort of silly - am and pm. Imagine how much simpler our lives would be if we never again had to write or print the time followed with an am or pm. I have long thought it would be a good move to switch to 24-hour time. The military has been using it for quite a while. When the computer industry (which uses 24 hour time) became predominant, I was hoping that our culture would embrace it and adopt if for everyday use. But, alas, we were resistant to change. Example: the USA has resisted switching to the metric system even though most of the rest of the world has and most of our products lists weights and measurements in both systems. Weblink.

Note how the newer buildings on the left respect the older buildings with the alignment of the ornamentation bands.

Every now and then, I'll hear a design student or novice designer express disdain or opposition to a typeface (like Comic Sans, Papyrus, Fajita, etc.) I've even known teachers to hate a certain color. A shame. A designer should not hate any color (or typeface, or shape). There are appropriate uses for any element. There is a design problem that needs the typeface Comic Sans because it works well in that situation. Designers decide when any specific element is appropriate - that's their job. Hatred and extreme bias cloud one's objectivity to make valid, appropriate, and rational design decisions.

Now this is a fabulous idea. Above on the left are the former coins used in England. On the right are the new coins. They look fresh and new - the heraldic icons have been cropped and zoomed in on. A young designer won a public competition and devised a stunningly original series that stands as an imaginative and clever solution. But the brilliance doesn't fully present itself until one arranges all the coins in the shape below and an overall crest becomes more obvious. Now the coins are gestalt - they make up parts of a bigger whole, they are connected visually, and they relate to each other in a way that the previous (and most other countries' coins) did not do. Beautiful. This designer was really thinking about a fresh way to mint coins.

An open competition conducted in August 2005 attracted 4,000 entries. The winning designer was Matthew Dent. After exploring a number of different options, Dent's concept used the greatest heraldic device ever used on coinage - the Royal Arms, featured on the coinage of almost every monarch since Edward III, 1327-77. The Shield has been cleverly split among all six denominations from the 1p to the 50p, with the £1 coin displaying the heraldic element in its entirety. This is the first time that a single design has been used across a range of United Kingdom coins.
"The idea that the public could interact with the coins is the most exciting aspect of this concept. It's easy to imagine the coins pushed around a school classroom table or fumbled around with on a bar - being pieced together as a jigsaw and just having fun with them."

Stationary (with an a) means to stand still, not move. Stationery (with an e) means supplies used for correspondence - letterhead, envelope, etc. This sign is even worse because the images of supplies behind the type were moving - they were animated, not stationary.

Providing easy access for people with disabilities is a good idea, but the access space is just too excessive. The loss of parking spaces for the rest of us cannot be justified here.

What do we do with old iPods and how can we sneak alcohol into stadiums and arenas that don't sell beer or allow it to be brought in? Put the two together - the iFlask. I removed all the inner hardware from an old iPod, sealed the holes (except for the earbud input which I use as the opening to the flask) and ended up with a hard-to-detect flask that holds about a jigger (oops, sorry, I mean the j-word).

Some of my renderings inspired by the genius of MC Escher.

While purging files and fotos, I found this note from my high school art teacher, Ms. Hudson. She heavily influenced my teaching philosophy, as evidenced by her suggestions - Think and contemplate. Have a reason for everything. Be critical.

I'm walking along the mall in Washington DC and I see this construction fence and the temporary sign. Coincidentally, right when I noticed how the temporary sign blocked the sidewalk, a family approached with a child in a wheelchair. The chair couldn't get between the fence and the base of the sign. I dragged the sign over to the right, where it should have been. Now there are visual cues apparent in the sidewalk that guide the pedestrian.

Assessment of the names of network morning shows:
The Early Show
Early is not typically associated with something positive: early to a party, early to work, early in the morning. "Dang, Its awfully early." "Why are you up so early? And why are you dressed like that?" This has been replaced with CBS This Morning. Better.
The Today Show
A bit better, at least its neutral. One can't deny the fact that it is today.
Good Morning America
This is the strongest - positive, cordial, and patriotic.
Appropriately, Good Morning America is now in first place in the ratings and the The Early Show is in third place.

This just makes so much sense - a sink built on top of a urinal. You use the urinal, then wash your hands and the washwater rinses the urinal, saving water. It makes even more sense in multiple units in men's rooms, saving both space and water. From the designer's website: To save water, Eco Urinal uses the water that was used for washing hands to flush the urine. We don't have to use water twice after using the urinal. Moreover, it reduces the establishment's expenses by optimizing the materials and floor space. The sink base is made of glass - to provide a clear view for users. It also promotes hand washing since people need to wash their hands to flush the urinal.
Any 'yucky' factor is tempered with the current system of yucky germs in the sink. (Better: the back of the urinal should not be flat as that causes direct back-splash on to the user's pants.)
The combo Eco Urinal makes more sense than a waterless urinal and probably saves as much water. Gray water use never looked so good.
Why do we use clean water to flush wastes?

A thoughtless unnecessary sign. The scene: a hallway just off the main entrance to the Museum of Art on the Princeton University campus. On the right side of the hall is a mounted mosaic artwork with a wooden cabinet underneath. Concern: apparently people had been leaving items on top of the cabinet and the staff was worried that the mosaic above might be damaged. Assumptions:
1. People had a need for a horizontal surface on which to set things.
2. The mosaic is fragile (even though there is a water fountain and bench under the mosaic).
Staff solution: ignore the need of the users and post a sign demanding that nothing be left on top of the cabinet.
Better solution: Move the cabinet. See the wall opposite - move the far bench to under the mosaic (that must be okay since there's already one bench on the mosaic wall) and put the cabinet where the bench was. That groups all storage units - coat rack, shelves, and cabinet - together and groups two benches underneath the mosaic.
Another example of thoughtless design: stuff on cabinet, must be outlawed, post a sign. But that solution is shallow, doesn't take into account the needs of the building user, and places restrictions on behavior. All unnecessary.

Great design should be about content and substance - not gimmicks or pretty pictures. Great work should be honest, true, and full of integrity.

Vandalism on an airplane: I'm sitting on the plane with Sean and his wife when I look up and notice that the panel overhead has vent holes in it - but, the vent holes are not arranged symmetrically. See how the number of holes in each row changes by two. Except for the top two rows. Weird. To fix this, I took out a pen and filled in the two depressions that should be holes (foto on the right). There. Better.

• Crystal Light marketed a packet that is the right size and shape to easily add the powder to a bottle of water. They recognized the fad of bottled water and the potential for sales to people who didn't want to give up flavor for water. A perfect match to what the consumer wants. It is a great idea.
• Staples, the office supply store, positioned the boxes of Crystal Light on top of the cooler of bottled waters. Smart.

Locking and unlocking the front door when it is well-lit is as simple as stick and twist, but trying to find that little key hole in the dark can be a real pain. This is one of those so-simple-and-obvious designs that you almost have to wonder why no one has thought of it before: not only does it provide a simple channel for sliding your key down into the lock each and every time, but its distinct shape makes the entire lock housing easier to find in the first place while groping around in poor lighting. Inventor: Junjie Zhang.

Why not just one combined ID and debit/credit card? Many of us carry a photo ID (driver's license), credit card, debit card, student ID, medical insurance card, and others. There could be one picture official ID with photo, signature, and an embedded chip or a magnetic stripe containing information and credit card info. They all have sensitive information, but that information could be contained in a single database and accessed by a scanner. To purchase something with the credit card, the scanner would access the card and determine which info was appropriate for the purchase and display or use only that info. The digital info can be adapted and loaded with whatever the user requests.

From Reuters: Ever wanted to meet and greet your loved ones at the airport to be sure they don't miss you in the crowds? Amsterdam's Schiphol airport has the world's first vending machine capable of printing out personalized giant banners in just a few minutes. You can pick your message, choose the font and background design, pay between $6 and $20 depending on the length of the banner, and hit the button. "We came up with the idea because when we were at the airport we'd see all these people welcoming their friends and family with their own banners made of bed sheets and we thought what a hassle using sheets, wouldn't it just be easier to make the banner at the airport," said BannerXpress's co-founder Thibaud Bruna. "We hope have them in other airports, but also in stadiums for sporting and music events," Bruna said.

Please program your car key fob so that the horn doesn't honk when you lock your car. Most cars have this option - check the Owners Manual for the instructions. Its quite simple to reprogram the key fob.
Think how much nicer it will be without those needless honks. The sound of the locks clicking still provides an aural confirmation that your car is locked. The extra horn sound is unnecessary, rude, selfish, and obnoxious. Okay, it may not be quite that bad, but it will still be nicer without the honks.
Many car key fobs allow you to double click the button to sound the horn in case you need to find your car in the lot.
Better solution: car manufacturers should program the no-honk as the default on the fob. People who feel they need the honk can program the fob to do so. But, for all the people who don't think about it or don't care, the horn option would be turned off.

A USB plug that doesn't give the user a clear clue which side is up is inexcusable in this era of 'smart design'. if a product needs a catchy line like, "Doesn't fit, flip it" then there is something wrong with the product design. Well-designed products don't need ad slogans to help them do their job.
I suppose that the USB logo on one side is an attempt to differentiate the two otherwise-identical sides. But, its not enough - many times, its just embossed in the plastic and difficult to see.
One tacky solution: I have marked the plugs. I once used a multiple plug but it impacted the strength of the signals to the devices so, for now, I'm using this system with duct taped plugs.

In this absolute order, design and critique works of design for:
1. target audience
2. client
3. yourself
Good clients will agree that your solutions are for their customers, not for themselves. Bad clients will often interject their own biases, ignoring the characteristics of their users. Unfortunately, there are many (probly too many) of these clients. Bad design often happens when designers don't adhere to the correct order. It is imperative to fully understand the audience: its wants, needs, and attitudes. Think of IKEA and Apple - innovators there designed for the user first. Once, I was a Guest Juror and charged with critiquing senior portfolios of design majors. I would ask a student who the target market was. I too often got the answer, "I don't know." or "Students." or something similar. They hadn't put much thought into who the end user/reader/viewer of the piece would be or their target was just too broad. I would stop the critique and move on - telling them, How can we discuss the effectiveness of a piece if you, the designer, do not even know who the user is?
Lesson: The better you understand the audience, the easier the process of creating an effective solution will be.

From Germany at the ICFF - a prototype for a new Volkswagen. Other new ideas and furniture were very inspirational, but I was most amazed at how many companies and booths used iPads to show images, videos, and title blocks.

Whole Foods is typically lauded for thoughtful attention to detail. But what is this about? Do you close the open slot to open it? Open the close?
Tip: A customer should be able to glance at a creamer and easily understand how to open and pour the contents.

Someone designed this promo piece (in the middle) to hang on a shelf next to the bottle of wine. In the Facebook post on the left, he/she commented that it 'feels good' to see one's work in the store. But, look at the piece he/she feels good about - can you even read the headings at the beginnings of each paragraph? It shouldn't feel good to ignore the design principles of contrast and readability. Also, the text copy is set justified resulting in awkward word spacing and set over some obscure image in the background, decreasing readability even more.
But that's not the example of mediocre design. Notice in the Facebook comments on the right, they are all supportive and complementary. Not one person commented on the poor design decisions or asked why the designer feels good about mediocre work. Could the piece be any more dull? Hopefully, there were many more people who saw the post and wanted to be honest, but were too polite to post any response. When mediocrity is rewarded with "Nice Job!" and "congratulations", it reinforces the notion that there is no need to strive for excellence. Why bother? This level of work is "Very cool :)"

Another question that is symptomatic of design today: Why was this even posted on Facebook? Probly fishing for complements. But when design is ego-driven, it rarely is well-done.
Remember to consider every detail from the viewpoint of the end user. Each element - image and words - should enhance the clarity of the message. Clutter has little positive value in today's barrage of info.

Another renewal notice just came in the mail. Some magazines send these out every few months. It's not that the subscription is about to expire, its just a thinly veiled attempt to get me to send money. Sometimes its frustrating to figure out just when the subscription expires. Some labels give the expiration date, most do not. The one below is from Adbusters magazine, a very progressive periodical (Adbusters is responsible for initiating and encouraging the Occupy movements). Note that the label is very clear: it states the number of issues remaining and info on how to renew or subscribe.

At the newsstand or at Barnes & Noble, it can be a struggle to find the cover price of the magazine. Not so with Adbusters. Large and positioned above the UPC code.

The OCCC Arts Festival is held each Labor Day. One of the entertainment acts was a Mexican Folkloric Dance group. In high school, I was a dancer in such a group that my mother had created to perform around the Dallas area. So, I thought it would be fun to see those dances again. And it was. But, it was very hot and the view from the shady seating areas were blocked by this banner listing the festival's sponsors. Someone decided to mount the sign there without much thought as to the sightlines from the audience.

To make it slightly more frustrating was the observation that the blank area between the columns for the two stages would have been a perfect spot to mount the sign (as rendered above). Then, the sponsor names would be at eye level and right in front of the audience. And, most importantly, it wouldn't be blocking views for most of the festival-goers.

The Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamp sheet honors 12 of the nation's most influential industrial designers, who helped shape the look of everyday life in the 20th century. Each stamp features the name of a designer, a photograph of an object created by the designer, and a description of the object.
Cool, exactly what I was hoping to find - some stamps that had a connection to design so I could educate others in the medium of a postage stamp. To buy them, I had to set up an account. Some sites allow the user to complete a sale as a guest with no need to create an account. Not so here with the USPS. I was required to open an account. I first tried to log in thinking I might have set up an account earlier. I input my usual username but was told that it was unacceptable. I then selected, "Create account". Eventually, I got to this screen:
This time, when I typed my previous username, I was told that it was already taken (most certainly by me). I couldn't use it. By this time, I was so frustrated with the poor experience on the USPS website that I typed in a new username: fuckthepostoffice. Their website checked that name and said I should try another one, suggesting that fuckthepostoffice was already taken:

I'm guessing others had gotten frustrated at the site or with the Post Office and taken the username. I selected one of their suggestions and went on with placing my order.

One of the benchmarks of aging is switching from sweetened cereals to Grape-Nuts and then to oatmeal. Yep, oatmeal. I found this brand above left at Target and noticed the convenient 'Measuring Cup Pouch' - the amount of water and/or milk to add was marked right on the envelope package. A great idea.
A while later, I noticed new designs for the box and for the envelope packets (on the right). These were even better. Some changes:
• The packet info was minimized since much of it was already covered on the outer box and there was no need to repeat it on the packet. The consumer had already made the purchase decision.
• The Measuring Cup Pouch is more obvious: moved to the front, larger point size of type, and a more dramatic mass of color. The pouch is unique to this brand and they are wisely exploiting that on the package.
• The solid mass of color for the measuring pouch line makes it easier to see the water approaching the line when holding the pouch under the faucet.
• Fonts switched to sans serif for easier readability.
• Negative: the round Microwave Directions symbols, now in 2 colors (above, on the right), are harder to decipher than in the earlier 1-color version. Reasons: the symbols are smaller, the 2 colors allow misaligned printing registration, and there are more details for the consumer to process in the newer version.
Overall, the Better Oats package is a good example of CPOV, designing from the consumer's point of view - give the user just what is needed in a clear, easily understood execution.

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires the federal government to write all new publications, forms, and publicly distributed documents in a "clear, concise, well-organized" manner.
I don't know if this is good news - that the government has passed legislation for agencies to use clear language or bad news - that the g
overnment had to pass such legislation.
By now, all agencies are supposed to have a senior officer responsible for plain language, a section of their websites devoted to the subject, and a process to ensure they communicate more clearly with citizens and businesses.
"We still have a long way to go to make government forms and documents simpler and easier for taxpayers to understand," said the sponsor of the legislation.
According to the( Center for Plain Language), federal agencies are still churning out plenty of incomprehensible English. The center's chairwoman agreed. "You do see more documents coming out that are in relatively good, plain language. But "it's very spotty." A sample from the Plain website:

Planning a Plain-Language Website
Users require three things when using a website:
1. a logical structure so they know where to look for information,
2. an easy-to-use interface to get them to that information,
3. and easily-understandable information.
A website needs all these elements (information architecture, usability, and plain language) to be successful.

From the Center for Plain Language:
What is Plain Language?
Plain language is information that is focused on readers. When you write in plain language, you create information that works well for the people who use it, whether online or in print. Our measure of plain language is behavioral: Can the people who are the audience for the material quickly and easily
• find what they need
• understand what they find
• act appropriately on that understanding

1. The Defense Department has a 26-page cookie recipe that covers "flow rates of thermoplastics by extrusion plastometer" and a command that ingredients "shall be examined organoleptically," meaning looked at, smelled, touched or tasted.
2. I applied for Social Security recently. I was not looking forward to the process, because of experience with government agencies - having to get lots of paperwork together, make an appt., wait in an institutional waiting room (have you waited hours to renew your driver's license?), meet with someone who would probly not care about me, and wait for confirmation to be sent.
Whoa. I was very wrong. I completed the entire process in about 10 minutes, online! No prep, no appointments, no meetings, no runaround - just the most efficient and clearly designed website I have experienced. It was a pleasure to deal with this government agency. Even though I am disappointed that the government had to pass such legislation, I am glad that it seems to be working. It emphasizes the importance of writing in clear plain language. The SSA website.

Walked by this window display at the mall. I couldn't decipher the mark. I stopped and pondered. People stared at me - What's that guy doing? I should have asked some of them if they could read the letters, but I was too enrapt by the enigma to be aware of what was going on around me.

The L and X are pretty clear. Then what? an A? an N? T? The last letter is a clear I. If I had to vote, I would go with L X A T I
Answer: I had to googalit to discover that the mark is the Roman numerals for 66. I haven't yet discovered the relevance of 66 to this store or to Van's.
That awkward serif off the top of the V might be an attempt to tie into the Vans logo, but it doesn't quite work since the V in vans is symmetrical and the V in LXVI has a vertical stroke on the right.
Lesson: Requiring the reader to decipher a mark can be good - it requires memorable participation - but be careful: if the correct solution is too obscure, many people will give up and move on or turn the page.
Tip: Seek clever interplay of letters but view the piece as the reader would, to maintain readability.

"The eye fools the mind by picking out the silhouette of one number then instantly recognizing another, sometimes in quick succession"
In 1967, Jasper Johns produced this lithograph entitled 0 Through 9, which was originally an oil painting created in 1961. It consists of the 10 numbers meticulously overlaid one upon the other within a rectangular area, creating a kaleidoscope of figures that battle each other for the viewer's attention. All color in the original painting was removed except for the blacks and whites, rendering the details of the superimposed numbers much more visible and intense. Johns re-created this lithograph numerous times in response to the ever changing digital age. The symbolism, however, never changed. The artist meant for this iconic picture to represent his personal view of a world whose system has been built on the interpretation of different signs. There are versions of John's piece at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, Tate Gallery in London, and at ULAE on Long Island, NY

In June, I spent an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art. After some lunch and coffee in the Cafe, I wandered through the design galleries. Later, spotting an open spot on a bench in the main atrium, I plopped my fat ass down and sat a spell. I was facing a large wall sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly. I was intrigued by how people view art, especially large-scale art in an atrium trafficway. I shot a few photos and then switched my pocket computer camera to 'video' and set the device on the floor. Here is the fascinating video.

Just some cool sign shadows.

I am seeing this type of banner a lot around town. Some sign shop must be running a special on crap photo art backgrounds. Sign shops rarely employ talented graphic designers. They are technicians who might understand the company software and can flip through a catalog with the client and select pretty pictures. Unfortunately, this may be a trend - placing text (outline fonts, even) over a pretty clip art photo image - and, a pretty image that has nothing to do with the message being communicated. The example at the top at least shows some decent contrast to improve readability.

Lesson: Graphic design is about solving communication problems, not selecting pretty pictures.
Tip: Avoid making type hard to read by putting a non-related image behind it.

I was in the mall and texting as I walked. I had tried that app that takes a picture of what is beyond the phone and shows it in the background of the text window, but found that it was too distracting. As I approached the area shown above, I almost ran into that column. Please note that I no longer text while driving. When driving, 'columns' are often heavy machines that are coming at me at a fast rate of speed. Anyway, I noticed the ramp and realized that it provided a safer and more convenient texting option than the stairs - I could continue texting and walk up the ramp without stopping; the stairs require me to slow down and navigate the steps, thereby interrupting the texting task. This was no longer a handicap ramp, it was a texting ramp.

Does this work as a neword? Many of us say it regularly. It has become part of our cultural vernacular. I just don't know if its necessary or any more efficient.

If you've flown much at all, you have likely searched an airport waiting lounge for an outlet to plug in your charger. Some new airports and remodeled lounges are installing more outlets. At Newark airport there are a few charging stations, but each one only had 4 outlets and each was occupied. Then I noticed the ring of pay phones - there were 4 or 5 of these kiosks in this lounge. I walked around several times to check - never was a single phone ever in use. Not one. Of course not. People were standing nearby using their cellphones.
So, it seems quite easy to replace the phone banks with a similar circular structure that contains banks of outlets above a worksurface. The electrical power is already there which, I assume is one of the main deterrents to adding more outlets in an airport lounge. No waiting area or floor space would be lost as the new structure would not be any larger than the existing one.

I have questions:
• How will I notice it?
• What if my butt is not sensitive enough - do I have to feel it with my fingers?
• How does my butt cheek know what is clean?
• Will my butt really appreciate the DiamondWeave Texture? Does it prefer that over a grid texture?

This is the logo for the First Council Casino in Oklahoma. When I first glanced at it on a billboard in Kansas, I was immediately reminded of the logo for the magazine Fast Company. The C surrounding the O is quite memorable and effective (the smaller A in FAST is just too contrived and clumsy) Here are two more marks with encompassing Cs:

There are hundreds of examples of logos that have similarities. But, is it necessarily wrong? It could be a coincidence or it could be a copy or it could be somewhat innocent influence in someone's mind. If it is an attempt to draw from the success of an established mark and 'piggyback' recognition - then, that would be wrong: exploiting someone else's work for personal gain. But, if it is a graphic element that is appropriate and beneficial to a mark, then we may be more likely to forgive the similarity.

These horizontal surfaces are at the sinks in the bathrooms at the Museum of Modern Art - an otherwise well thought-out facility with a strong eye toward design and detail.
Lesson: Horizontal surfaces collect junk and get messy.
Solution: Pedestal sinks with shelves and hooks within reach and sight for personal belongings. A larger sink basin would also better contain spray and splash.

Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period. An article every designer should read.

The opening line of the news story is, "Lady Gaga is collaborating with a few new artists - and it's not whom you might think." Usually, it is risky to tell the reader what he/she might think. In this case, however, we already think that the new artists are the Muppets. Why would we think that?
    1. Because the headline says so.
    2. Because the photo shows Gaga with a Muppet.
    3. Because the photo caption says so.
The opening sentence is now just embarrassing. The writer of the piece, the headline writer, and the photo caption writer did not collaborate. If they had, someone could have seen the error and edited the copy to match. In this era of immediate information, these types of opening sentences - teasers - seem out of place. Jump right in to the news of Gaga and Muppets. We don't need to wade through any 'clever' sophomore J-school assignment paragraph leads.

Many people do not like to touch the door handle when exiting a restroom - that is where people have put their germy hands. Some people use a paper towel to grab the handle so they won't have to touch it. Those people often throw that towel on the floor by the door. Or, as in the photo below, in a trash can if that can has been placed outside the restroom.
Fun info: a recent study determined that the door handle was one of the most germ-free places in a public restroom - precisely because so many people were wiping it clean with a paper towel. Nonetheless, the perception is still there - do not touch that door handle!

Above right: Some businesses mount a sanitizer dispenser outside the restroom so people can clean their hands after exiting. The options below allow the user to open the door with their arm or with their foot:

Some design objectives:
• Easy to clean (holes or gaps will collect gunk).
• Easy to install on existing doors of varied materials.
• Durable for many uses.
All of these options are good design - each solves a problem with clarity and efficiency.
Below: Decals showing how to operate it are mounted near the trash can - so the user knows they do not need to keep the paper towel to grasp the door handle - they can just throw it away.

This needs no explanation - the concept is immediately apparent. KFC is acknowledging and responding to our habits of eating while in the car. The GoCup sits stable in your car (no more balancing on your lap or teetering on the console) and has a wide mouth top for easy access to the food. For now, we'll ignore the issues of fast food nutrition, overeating, and distractions while driving. This is a great idea that, as fat and lazy as we are, fits well the modern American lifestyle.

Left: A page from an online catalog. The graphic elements that serve to organize the products and clarify the information are the black bars and the grey rectangles behind the text copy.
We are conditioned to believe that black bars, being more dominant, separate the items. The middle example is the catalog enlarged - the black bar is at the top of the grey rectangle. But, the black bar becomes a divider - a barrier between the image and it's accompanying copy. On the right is the way it ought to be - the dominant black bars separate the items, just as we expected them to, and the image and copy are grouped together - visually connected. Much clearer.

Note: brilliance is often simple.

You have likely stood in line behind someone who was checking out and they stood there until all the groceries were rung up and bagged and the cashier gave the total due. That customer then began rummaging through her purse for her checkbook, cash, or credit card. Hopefully, you have also stood behind someone who, while the cashier was scanning the items, got his credit card out and swiped it. When the total showed up, he just signed the pad and got his receipt.
Walmart, which often puts much thought into improving the shopping experience, has these stickers posted on the machines to educate the customer. Nice job.

For an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this gallery/room had one entrance (on the left in the fotos) and videos playing on the other three walls. There were also some mounted displays on the wall to the left. So, the guy in the red shirt grabs a chair and moves it to where he and his wife (just guessing here, it could be his mistress) can sit together with plenty of room. But this selfish bastard doesn't consider how inconvenient his chair location makes it for other museumgoers to see the mounted work.
Lesson: Please resolve to be more aware of your environment and more considerate than this guy. We all thank you.

I had just finished a tour of the Tenement Museum and walked a few blocks to the New Museum in the Lower East Side for coffee and snax (and to sit down and rest). I noticed these three people standing and talking. But they were right where the passage of traffic narrowed between the glass railing of a staircase, a sign stanchion, and a set of ropes. The ropes signified the secure entry to the museum elevators and staircase. In the lower left, you can just barely see the stairs that lead down to the restrooms and more galleries. The museum shop and bookstore is in the left background. I shot the fotos from the museum cafe. So, this passageway sees quite a bit of traffic connecting those elements of the museum. The three people may have even been employees of the museum, although they were apparently oblivious to their surroundings. The other visitors have to squeeze by them. I've also seen people stop and talk or wait at the top of stairs and escalators, or at the entrance to a subway station. Sometimes, I want to tell them "There just has to be a better place to stand." But I don't - I guess I get too disgusted at the inconsiderate, self-centered members of our species.
Granted, a major contributor to the problem in this case is the poor architectural and interior design of the traffic flow within this public space. This is a major artery in the New Museum and, clearly, not enough room was allocated for the simultaneous passage of several people.
1. Design spaces to handle traffic flow more smoothly and conveniently.
2. Please think about your surroundings when you make decisions on where to stand and chat. We are often so focused on our own needs that we forget that we are just one part of an environment of objects and other people.

Here is a new way to address bathroom sanitation and waste. This sink includes phases of washing, rinsing, and drying (from right to left). A public restroom would likely require more sinks since the time spent at the basin would increase. But, one could take care of all functions at one location, rather than standing at the sink and then moving to the towel dispenser and the trash can. The freestanding sink is better than sinks mounted in a countertop. Those counters are almost always wet and messy.

Lesson: Horizontal surfaces collect crap.
Tip: Avoid horizontal surfaces in public spaces, except where absolutely necessary.

The ". . . for Dummies" series has become a brand that represents a non-threatening way to become more knowledgeable. Now, it is being used on products, rather than just books. The icon figure is holding a flag that represent the wine's country of origin, there is a pronunciation guide under the name of the wine, and the wine varieties are color-coded. In a society that seems to become increasingly more stupid with each FoxNews broadcast, I welcome any attempt to educate the masses in a convenient way.

An easy way to enlarge the walkway along the Hudson River Esplanade: Move the benches closer to the water. That's it. Easy, cheap, and effective. Some joggers and walkers currently use the path between the benches and the seawall. But, it's awkward - people have to pull their legs in. If that path wasn't so wide, those people wouldn't be tempted to use that route. Moving the benches combines the pathway in front of the benches with the path behind the benches. The benches could be arranged in pairs so there is aisle access to each bench - thus, less need for a wide walkway in front of the benches. Existing and proposed:

Sitting inside a billboard while dining. Full essay and photos

This is absolutely brilliant. The first major ketchup packet design change in 42 years was developed after more than two years of research. It has a top that can be peeled back for easy dipping or a tip torn off to squeeze. Heinz spokesman: "The biggest complaint is there is no way to dip and eat it on-the-go. From dipping nuggets and fries to squeezing ketchup on hamburgers, the new design gives customers more flexibility, so they can enjoy eating ketchup on whatever or wherever they want." The learning curve on this new packet should be very short - within one usage, the user should be able to figure out which end is best for dipping and squeezing.
However, the graphic design of the packet can be clearer. See that white line above the word DIP in DIP & SQUEEZE? I guess its a highlight to convey dimensionality of the ketchup bottle, but, because it is tapered and in stand-out white, it looks like an arrow pointing from Dip to the top. But the top is for squeezing - dipping is at the bottom.
There is no need for the white highlight or the implied arrow. Update: Heinz fixed the graphics and simplified the wording for each use option.

On the Sprint sign (far right) the yellow reads well - the contrast is strong - yellow or white on black is easy to read. But, the yellow on white in the words Touch and Truck are just too close in value to be easily read.

That is a brilliant product - such a simple and clever solution. It is a great example of a message that is so clear that it requires almost no deciphering - their function is obvious and immediate. A ceiling fan often has a light in the center and there are two chain pulls hanging down from the fixture. The chains are identical, so how do you tell which goes to which? You take look at the fan housing to see which comes out at a higher spot - that's probly for the fan. Or, you attach these pulls to the ends of the chains.

Why don't all tables have just 3 legs? Four legs allows the table to wobble when on an uneven floor. During lunch in FiDi in Lower Manhattan recently, I noticed that the tables had 3 legs. Brilliant - no wobble. What a simple solution. The tripod concept means the table will always be stable on any surface. No sticking matchbooks or folded up napkins under the short legs. An advantage of 4 legs may be greater stability. But, by extending the span of the 3 legs stability is improved.

This is a clever image concept from an ad in Texas Monthly magazine. A common device used in ad illustrations is to juxtapose the comfortable, familiar, and safe with the new, innovative, and risky. This one, quite simple, yet appropriate, works well at getting the reader's attention (Texans love to see their flag) and conveying the message of a large wine selection. Juxtapose the familiar with the innovative.

A more logical way to denote a complete date.

Please don't cram things into the corner. Recently, I was in a yogurt place to satisfy my weekly fix. Before filling my cup with salted caramel frozen yogurt, granola, and dark cocoa-coated almonds, I went to use the restroom. Inside, I noticed this stand with a vase of flowers shoved into the corner. I call this type of furniture arrangement the Centrifugal Force Method: Put everything in a room and spin (figuratively) the room so fast that all the stuff is flung against the perimeter walls. There, all arranged.
So, I pulled the stand away from the walls. Notice how much better it looks. The arrangement is freer - with room to 'grow', it fills the space of the room a bit better, and the lighting highlights it more dramatically and minimizes the shadows in the corner.
If you're wondering about the flowers and the color of the walls in the men's room - I can explain: I was in the Ladies Room. Purely by accident. On my next visit, I checked the men's room (above right) to see if it had a similar corner arrangement.
Lesson: Avoid the Centrifugal Force Method of arranging furniture. Float some pieces away from the wall.

So much crap in seatback pockets: 6 pieces of literature. I had to rearrange and neaten them up. I put 3 of the technical pieces inside the 4th, a single fold piece that served as a folder; magazine and catalog in front.

In that library of literature, one of the items is a bag "to collect and contain vomit in the event of motion sickness." If you have flown more than twice, this has probly happened to you: you pull out the inflight magazine or the SkyMall catalog - when you shove it back into the seatback pocket, it snags on something, it doesn't just smoothly go back to it's home. Often, hopefully, that something is the barf bag - a typical paper bag with a flat bottom and lined with a thin veneer of plastic to retain liquids. That flap at the bottom of the barf bag is what catches other items slid into the pocket.

There has to be a better way. And there is. The airline could simply specify a flapless bag with a bottom like those below. These bags are plastic (waterproof), have a secure seal, and have a flat bottom when opened. But, the bottom creases fold inside the bag, with no extending flaps that can cause snags.

I went by the Warby Parker headquarters and showroom in SoHo to check out some new frames. I noticed this counter in the Customer Experience area. I was told that it was custom made for the space. The stack of old luggage is cool and well done. But the blue strap distracts from the concept. The focus here should be on the clever idea for a countertop support and the items on top that are being supported. The luggage pieces serve as the legs of the counter. The blue strap does nothing, but demand attention - away from where it should be. Without the strap, the piece is a more pure and honest design - a good concept (stacked luggage serving as legs for a counter) that is well executed.
Lesson: Figure out what's working in a piece; exploit that and minimize the rest.

The obscure wording used on a sign at Whole Foods. I read a word I had never seen before - tare. I stopped several people - customers and employees - and asked them what the word 'tare' meant. Not one of them knew the answer. I questioned the person who was restocking the items. She confirmed that it meant container. I asked why it didn't just say container - why use a word that no one surveyed understood. Why make the customer have to decode and decipher the unfamiliar word. She had no response and suggested I fill out a comment card. Using obscure words may be Whole Foods' attempt at conveying intellectual elitism.
Tip: Elitism can often get in the way of clear communication.
Lesson: Successful design (clear communication) respects the reader.

When I returned to Whole Foods in November 2012, those signs had been replaced (middle sign above).
Compare the two sentences:
    Don't worry about the tare weight.
    Don't worry about the weight of the bowl.
Of course, the second one is clearer. Whole Foods did the right thing by wording the sign to be more easily comprehended by more people. Other changes:
• Some of the text that was set in all caps was changed to U&lc. This does appear more friendly and less demanding.
• The rest of the text remained in UC, but in a larger point size and with increased emphasis on the word OFF. I'm not sure why they need to yell that word at us so loudly. I also don't know if its important that they educate the reader about what tare weight is. Is (tare weight) even necessary? The main point of the message was adequately conveyed in the preceding words.
But, at least, Whole Foods responded and clarified the wording of the sign.

Here are 3 versions of a single-panel cartoon of Dennis the Menace.
• Middle: Added elements: floor tiles, bottle on the counter, and Dennis' dad's head and foot peeking in.
• Right: Added: a patterned tablecloth.
Notice: The busy tablecloth, floor tiles, and Dennis' dad distract from the piece of broccoli on the floor and the action of Dennis pointing to it.
Compare the panels on the left and right - one more clearly communicates the gag.
Unfortunately, the panel on the far right is the way the cartoon was originally drawn and published in the paper.
Lesson: All elements in a piece (any piece, not just cartoons) should emphasize, or, at least, not distract from, the element that provides the primary focus.

Caption: "Better duck!"
• Do the sign support truss and the overhead lights get in the way of the message that the bridge is low and may hurt Marmaduke's head?
• Is this cartoon funny?

Truck dashboards are better configured than car dashboards. The wraparound configuration places more controls within easier reach if the driver and they don't take up any more space - that volume is just wasted. I am waiting for automotive designers to embrace concepts for better efficiency and convenience in car dash controls. Some cars still have their ignition in the steering column - out of sight - the driver has to do some contortions to peer around to see if the key is going in. Years ago, the key unlocked the steering mechanism but there is absolutely no reason today to put that ignition there. Its just the way its always been done.

I realized a while back that I was a 'noticer'. I notice things. Example: At O'Hare airport in Chicago, I couldn't help but spot how the base of the sign outside the Brookstone kiosk did not respect the patterns in the terrazzo floor. So, of course, I moved the sign. Didn't bother to check with anybody, even though there were several people nearby watching. In its new position, it creates an arrangement that is more orderly, more connected to its environment, and more respectful of the viewer and our innate desire for order.
1. An orderly environment is often preferable to one of chaos.
2. Seemingly disparate elements can respect each other, often in subtle ways.
3. If you act like you know what you're doing, you can get by with almost anything.
4. It's often easier to ask forgiveness than to seek permission.

Although I didn't need to do either in this case. The Brookstone employee did not care about me or what unusual stuff I was doing to their sign.

A retro Big Chief tablet would make a great case flap for an iPad or other eTablet. The Big Chief notepaper app.

How something is viewed is always a matter of perspective.

Took a walk to Starbucks for their new drink - Flat White. Saw this painted sign on the parking lot concrete. Why the unusual B? Did the sign painter use a stencil - the A and R suggest so, but the B doesn't look like a stencil. A few feet away, I happened upon this shadow of the gas meter pipes. Aha. That's it.

Organizing text copy for easier comprehension:
• Put all time info on one line: 9:00a to 10:30a.
• Abbreviated 'AM' as 'a' (and PM as p, if included).
• Deleted the unnecessary CDT.
• Placed 'Downtown Oklahoma City' on one line.
• Tightened up the initials EK.
• Decreased leading between the two blocks of text copy.
• Increased leading between the map and the copy.
• Increased the blue space in the left margin.

New graphics for QSR (fast food) restraunts

The new look for Quick Service Restraunts blends into a more homogenous style of building design, characterized by:
• Horizontal rows of slats, often wood.
• Intersecting slabs of masses.
• Eave overhangs.
• Flat roofs, no mansards, gables, or domes.
• Strong horizontals and verticals, fewer curves.
Spelling of the word restraunt.

A better game show tv screen layout. We have become so accustomed to seeing web sites and app pages with multiple blocks of info that the linear images on game shows seem primitive. TV screens are wider now (more real estate to use for images) and our home screens are larger and in higher definition. Often, when watching, I wonder what the score is or the amounts of money a contestant has. My desire may not match what the director has chosen to put on the screen. Solution: arrange the Jeopardy (or Family Feud, Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune) blocks of info like a web site to allow the viewer to access info as needed or desired.

The two above have their instructions buried in blocks of copy, in a small point size, and reversed out of the red background.
Now look at the better brand below. The designer of these packages was considerate of the reader. The heading, Cooking Instructions, is large and easy to find. The most important info (the time) is large, set in a box, and put on a higher contrast background. Users can scan the back of the box easily and quickly find the info they are looking for. Microwave ovens are fast, their instructions should be, also.

The box above has two important steps - Prep and Cook. Both are very clear at a glance. The prep photo makes sense.

At the entrance to the parking lot at the Estonian State Opera. Can you imagine the music in the driver's head as the gates open and close? An innovative mind saw a possibility to transform a standard gate into something festive, appropriate, and animated. Very cool.

A better location for the new West Thames pedestrian bridge connecting Battery Park City and the Financial District in downtown Manhattan. The full story.
Left: proposed location of the new bridge. Right: a better location.

Walking through the subway station, I noticed this call box mounted on a column. The lettering was easy enough to read, but the buttons weren't very clear. Was it one button for Emergency Information or two buttons - one for Emergency and another for Information. As I studied it more closely, I saw the second button below the word Information. Two distinct options. There are 2 problems:
• The Info button does not stand out and can be easily overlooked, especially from a distance or if in panic mode.
• The text word labels are not in proximity to their buttons.
On the right, above, is a revised version with a brighter info button and the word labels moved closer to their respective buttons. Below: side by side comparisons:

Lesson: Proximity is an important design guideline - position related elements in close proximity to each other.

Nice detail of merging the old with the new. Built in 1818, the 3-story Federal-style building at the corner of Spring and Wooster streets, is likely the oldest building in Soho. Crocs (yes, those shoes) renovated the building and replaced a garage in the adjoining Wooster Street plot with a contemporary glass-faced structure.

Wisdom from Milton Glaser

Tucked into a room off the lobby in the Deco-style Philcade Building is an extensive collection of Deco graphics, products, photographs, and household objects. Due primarily to oil discoveries in the 1920s and subsequent wealth in Tulsa, there was much new construction and a desire to be more like an Eastern big city. There is an active community of devotees who are keeping that chapter of Tulsa history alive for the rest of us to enjoy. The photo above left is by David Moos.

The shoestring-budget museum is staffed by volunteers, so that may help explain the weak logo. Issues:
• TAD Museum? Do they really want us to call it that? Hope not.
• Consistent-width letterforms are not very indicative of Art Deco.
• The angled stroke ends and notches in the initial letters just don't fit here.
• Vertical stacking of partial words is a bit too clumsy and awkward.

Design wisdom quotes from Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner
"It always seems impossible until it's done."
"I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles."
"Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
"A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

A better tea box. I toured the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder Colorado. I placed all the tea boxes on the counter top. I wanted them to remain open so I could easily access the envelopes of tea bags. To label each box, I ripped off the top flaps and stuck the title flap down in the back of the box. I noticed that if the box had been designed differently, I could have just folded and tucked the top back into the box. Above right is an example of retail display packaging with tuck-in top flaps. Something like that would have been pretty nice for the tea boxes on my counter top - more convenient and more user-friendly. Full story

An unnecessary sign (therefore, it's clutter.) Our minds are conditioned to seek out visuals before words. Here, the visuals are so clear and adequate. Do we really need to label a stack of spoons as 'Spoons'.

You have probly walked up to plasticware bins in a restraunt and had to look down into the bin or pull up a utensil in order to see if it was a fork or spoon. The ends are identical - no clue as to what is on the other end - the end that is buried down in the bin with the rest of the herd (I assume plasticware comes in herds).
Below: If the utensils were stored handle-down, recognition would be easy. But health codes don't want customers touching the utile ends so they are pointed down and the handle pointed up.

A beautiful solution from Frank Nichols: An identity system incorporating a variety of ways to communicate the utensil usage:
    •  Different length of utensil.
    •  Embossed icon at the end of the handle.
    •  Unique identifying shape of handle ends.

The system also allows sight-impaired customers the opportunity to recognize a utensil by feeling the shape at the end of the handle.
In 1915, another company wanted users to be able to identify their product by shape only. The design objective was to create a bottle so that it could be recognized in the dark. Inspired by the Hobble Skirt, popular at the time, and the shape of the coca bean pod, glass blower Alexander Samuelson presented the now classic bottle shape.

Another option: Chick-Fil-A has addressed the problem with these labels:

Be aware when laying out a page in a magazine that is perfect bound - the gutter won't open flat and some of the copy will be obscured in the unseen portion. The designer saw the above red page on his/her screen and it looked just fine - text all the way to the edge. But, they didn't consider how it would look once printed. I assume that this editorial layout is for Michael Fassbender, the actor. But, it could be for Dick Assbender, the one-eyed drag queen.

You can see a capital N with bumpy lines along two strokes or you can see a silhouette of a dog in a weird white shape - the letter N or the dog, but not both simultaneously. Of course, since your mind can switch back and forth quite fast; it may appear you are seeing both at once.

The clever Fiat campaign draws its concept philosophy from Rubin's vase (the figure-ground vase), famous two-dimensional forms developed around 1915 by Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin. The viewer sees two shapes, but only one can be understood at a given moment. The same phenomenon also occurs in the old woman-young woman image above right. This one-at-a-time image perception is the Fiat campaign - you can focus either on the conditions outside the car window or on the small screen in your hand; but not both at the same time.

Gist of a letter I sent to about the USAirways emergency landing in the Hudson River by Pilot Sullenberger
Some reasons why the broadcast media has lost credibility:
• The waters were not "icy" nor "freezing" if the water temp was 40 degrees. We would not tolerate a weather forecaster being so inaccurate, why do we tolerate it from news reporters? The water could be frigid, cold, or something similar, but not icy or freezing.
• Calling the landing a "miracle" is an insult to the training, expertise, and intelligence of the flight crew. The safe landing and low injury count is due to humans acting appropriately, not to divine intervention (if it were divine intervention or a 'miracle', then we will have a tough time explaining the planes that do crash and kill people).
• Was it really a "crash"? There was no wreckage and no damage (other than what the birds caused - the birds crashed, not the plane). Wasn't it just an emergency landing or a water landing? I realize that doesn't make for sensational copy on-air, but it does seem more accurate.

I stood and pondered the message on this billboard. The only clue I can find to help me answer the question posed is that the sponsor seems to be the Special Olympics. I assume, then, that the 'R-Word' is 'Retarded'. This billboard asks the reader to wonder and figure it out - thereby making the word even more dominant and memorable. The result backfires - instead of encouraging the reader to erase a word, it is reinforcing the word and making it a part of our vernacular. There are also too many image messages - the eraser competes for attention with the prohibited symbol over the R - which is the dominant message? Is the content asking us to erase the word or prohibit it? Do we really need two messages? A reader typically doesn't have much time to read the message on an outdoor billboard. Is the message conveyed here that the 'R' is prohibited, but the word 'retarded' is okay? Should we replace retarded with the R-Word? Doesn't that seem a bit retarded? There sure is a lot of bad design around. Weak concepts. Weak messages. Weak communication of content   Photographed on The Drag in Austin

Homecoming at Oklahoma State University. LEFT: Walkaround on Friday evening. University Avenue was closed to traffic and it filled up with hundreds of people, food booths, vendors, photos of Pistol Pete at Theta Pond, and more - it was like the state fair or a carnival without rides. The highlight is viewing the elaborate animated and pomped house decorations at 12 fraternity houses. Earlier in the week, I helped judge the sign competition on the Library Lawn and the same theme was carried out on the HouseDecs.
RIGHT: At the front deck of a pita shop on the Washington Strip, I stopped off to get a beer. I got to chatting and joking around with the guy selling the beer. When he needed to go get more beer to put in the tub, he left me in charge of selling beer. Cool, I can do that. What I wasn't prepared for was the line of people that would periodically form. I would reach in the tub of ice to get their beer, check IDs when necessary, open it with the opener, take their money, and make change. I just stuffed wads of bills in my pocket. When he got back, he counted up the money I had in my pocket - it was about $130. It was a lot of fun.

• Emily coined a neword in an email about my leaving New York City for Oklahoma - she referred to the home state as Oklahome. Nice.
• Have you heard the phrase, "As much fun as a barrel of monkeys"? Help me on this one. Who has ever played with monkeys in a barrel? Wouldn't monkeys in a barrel be pissed off and desperate to get out? Is that fun? Doesn't it make more sense to say, "As much fun as monkeys at an amusement park." or "As much fun as a barrel of whiskey."
• Since a teacher teaches, an actor acts, and a baker bakes, does a carpenter carpent?
• Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" ? Yuck - what's that about? Horse meat, hooves, horse head? I don't get it. Why don't they just say, "I'm so hungry I could eat a big steak (or Caesar salad or a large pizza)", anything but a horse.

This foto just baffles me. A parking area for wheelchairs? Providing a safe haven for them is considerate but how do the users move from here?

I had gone out to eat with a group of nice people. Apparently, each of us had been trained to not take the last piece of food. Shown is our plate of cheese and fruit appetizers with one small bite of each item left on the plate. Jill then cut each of these pieces in half, so there would be no more 'last pieces'. So, we each could eat another bit of appetizer (we even took turns going around the table).

Michael Jackson Memorial at the Apollo Theater. 125th Street westbound was closed to all traffic but buses and emergency vehicles.
1967: Joe Jackson drove his sons from Indiana to the Apollo Theater so they could perform during amateur night at the famous Apollo in Harlem. They had very little money. He wasn't even sure where they would spend the night. The youngest of the Jackson 5 was Michael, 9 years old. They performed and won. The Apollo wanted them to come back but the Jacksons couldn't afford it. Soon after, Diana Ross saw them perform and she introduced them to the rest of us. The Tuesday after Michael died on Thursday, the Apollo Theater held an open house memorial from 2p - 8p. It was part respectful memorial, part party and celebration, and part shopping mall. I went to participate in the event. Michael Jackson's music formed much of the background soundtrack for me in the 1980s. Larry Lewis, one of my high school students, treated me to a ticket to the Victory Tour concert at Texas Stadium in 1984. It was a phenomenal concert. MJ can wow a crowd. Even in death.
Some facts:
• MJ was acquitted - found innocent - of all charges in one of the 2 child molestation charges.
•  The other case was settled out of court to avoid negative publicity.
• The mother of 2 of his kids, his family, and friends have all emphatically stated that Michael is not a pedophile.
There is no evidence that he molested anyone. There is much precedent, however, that some adults will exploit celebrity millionaires to get money.
• He did not 'dangle' his baby off that balcony. He had a firm grip around the child. Dangle is the term the media used to sensationalize the event and millions of gullible viewers bought it, without thinking that it was the wrong term. I wonder how the media would report it when dads toss their kids, "Father abandons child in air" or "Dad lets go of child in mid-air."
Michael Jackson had an unusual childhood, a domineering father, success as a star at the age of 9, etc. Of course, he's going to be eccentric. But what talent. An incredible entertainer. And a great humanitarian.

One night recently, Jim had a chip on his shoulder. I hate it when this happens. Just spite and anger. But I flicked it off, dipped it in salsa and ate it - then, everything was okay.

When i was Chair of the Department of Design, one of the tasks i enjoyed the least was having to write Strategic Plans (redundant words - a strategy and a plan are the same thing). We spent a disproportionate amount of time preparing reports for an administration that didn't know nor care what we really did. The university bureaucracy would have us write reports and fill out forms that had little-to-no value. Once, i had to call a meeting with the Design faculty and the admin to present the SSCI report - a huge paper that discusses our procedures for planning. The VP asked me to detail the ways in which i involved the faculty in the preparation of the report. I told him that i didn't involve the faculty at all - i saw nothing in the SSCI that would help faculty do a better job in the classroom and i wouldn't be so inconsiderate as to ask them to help with a useless report (no one in Admin read the entire thing or used it to improve teaching at the university). The poster above is from the Baltimore Print Studios of a quote from Herb Kelleher, the guiding force behind Southwest Airlines, a lean company that makes profits while other airlines lose money. Herb is a doer.

Just too many receipts - even when arranged neatly in symmetrical rows. What a waste of paper. The store/restaurant needs a copy and the consumer needs a copy. Shouldn't that be enough? Doesn't the technology allow the number of receipts to be reduced? The Apple store emails a receipt or asks if you want a printed one from the store at time of purchase. That reduces the number to zero or one. Much better.

A night out with the girls. And by girls, I mean devices. Restraunt, NYC subway, and Intermission on Broadway.

We often say, I have to go to work or I gotta go to work. This attitude of 'have to' can be a bit demoralizing. Like its an awful ordeal. One's entire outlook can change with a simple change of attitude about work. Given the option of not working, going to work is usually preferable. We like the benefits that work provides - a sense of satisfaction, service, and productivity and, often, a sense of self-worth. We also love the benefit of a paycheck. We love the money to pay bills and buy stuff that we want. So, maybe the a healthier attitude would be I want to go to work.
American English intrigues me - it is still evolving and adapting to cultural needs. I read the phrase I got to go to work on Facebook and wondered if it could still be read if it was translated into phonetic and slang: gada goda wirk. The unscientific survey confirmed that it could.

Left: Another in the series Graphs of the human condition. Right: The formula for Hate. Fear is the catalyst and the flame stirs up the ignorance that is contained until it boils over.

Robert Peraza, 68, had been selected as a reader at the 10th anniversary ceremony, but before the 9/11 Memorial opened to family members, Peraza took a moment to walk near the North Pool around 9:45a. It was there that he found his son's name: Robert David Peraza, who had been working on the 104th floor of the North Tower, just above the gaping hole left in the building by the impact of American Airlines flight 11. Justin Lane, a press pool photographer, took Peraza's picture and it soon appeared around the world.

David emailed me with a great idea: a hurricane name that provides more information. Naming devastating storms after people does provide a reference, but there are 2 problems:
1. The name does not provide any information about the storm - like when it is, what ocean, etc.
2. It associates a negative connotation to a name. I suspect that, a few years ago, not many baby girls were named Katrina.
We don't name terrorist attacks after people - we use 9/11 for September 11, 2001 and the English use 7/7 for the terrorist subway bombings. In Oklahoma, we still refer to the May 3 tornadoes - we refer to them by their date, not someone's name.
David's suggestion is to use a letter prefix to denote the number of the storm in a year, followed by the year. So the 3rd storm of 2009 would be named C-09.
• I wonder if we can go a step further and add a code for the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Maybe just A, P, or I? And even add the month to the year. The date may not work since a hurricane can last several days and strike different locations on different days.
• Example: P3-8-11 would be the 3rd storm in the Pacific, occurring in August of 2011.
Downside: tough for the weather reader to say on air - maybe a storm has both - an on-air name (Irene) and a letter/number denoter (A2-8-11). In print, the storm could be denoted by both for clarification.
This doesn't address the issue of potentially tainting names with a negative association. They could assign obscure names such as these that have previously been assigned: Hazel, Beulah, Caesar, Hortense, and Ophelia.
But, improving the system for naming hurricanes is certainly an idea worth considering. Thanks, David.
• Background, from the FEMA website
For hundreds of years, hurricanes in the West Indies were named after the particular saint's day on which the hurricane occurred. An Australian meteorologist began giving women's names to tropical storms before the end of the 19th century. In 1953, the US National Weather Service began using female names for storms. In 1979, both women and men's names were used. One name for each letter of the alphabet is selected, except for Q, U and Z. For Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, the names may be French, Spanish or English, since these are the major languages bordering the Atlantic Ocean where the storms occur. The World Meteorological Organization uses six lists in rotation. The same lists are reused every six years. The only time a new name is added is if a hurricane is very deadly or costly; then the name is retired and a new name is chosen.

   Wisdom from the Dalai Lama

Okay, we have embraced Facebook and welcomed it into our lives - it has become a major influence and powerful manipulator of public opinion. We already give awards for many entities in our culture - it seems time to initiate the same for Facebook.
Name: Facebook Status Update Awards
Nickname: The Zuckers
Purpose: To recognize and reward those who embrace the medium of status updates
     • Get a Life - Updates that are too mundane, pithy, and trivial
     • What about me? - Too self-centered
     • Who gives a shit - Useless observations and opinions
     • Get your finger off the key - Overuse of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and other punctuation marks
     • Its just not that funny - Inappropriate use of LOL
     • Too much pussy - Too many silly kitten/cat videos
     • WTF? - Unbelievable, just doesn't make sense
     • Winklevoss - Swiping an update and claiming it as your own
     • Stop yelling at me - INAPPROPRIATE USE OF CAPS
     • Wish I'd thought of that - Truly thoughtful witty and clever
     • Big Bang - Novel, unique, never read before
     • LOL-S - Actually laughed out loud - seriously!
     • Family time - Sweet and sincere
     • Shakespeare- Well composed and well written

Please do not drive 45 miles an hour down a freeway on-ramp when the freeway traffic is going 70 miles an hour. Those on-ramps are designed to give the driver time and distance to get up to freeway speed to merge with the flow of traffic with minimal disruption.

This table appeared to be the scene where two people ate lunch. There were 24 napkins on the table - 21 unused napkins in a pile and 3 used ones on the table. The restraunt, by health code, probly cannot reuse the pile of napkins - they must be discarded. Three napkins for 2 people seems about right, but 24? 12 each?

Was wandering around the University of North Texas and came upon this sculptural column. I assumed that it was for skateboards - that made the most sense on a college campus next to a bike rack. Farther down the bike rack was this bike repair station. A cool idea - to provide tools and a support bar for making repairs.

If long hot summers become the norm, we will need to adapt and seek ways to make it more tolerable, safe, and comfortable.
Here are some thoughts:
• Clothes: wear sandals, no socks or short socks; wear shorts, but not thick, layered cargo shorts; wear StayCool fabrics and more breathable fabrics.
• Cars: put valuables in the trunk, leave the windows down for air flow. Buy cars in light colors to reflect more heat.
• Transportation: use more public transportation, and add shade shelters at bus stops.
• Landscaping: plant grasses that better withstand heat and drought and require less watering and pesticides; embrace xeriscaping (dry) to use less water.
• Roofs: use light colors to better reflect heat. Ventilate attics.
• Structures: install awnings and shade structures on houses and buildings.
• Haircut: shorter and cooler, wear ventilated and wide-brimmed hats.
• Shade: install more canopies in parking lots, plant more shade trees along parking rows, use parasols/umbrellas to shade pedestrians.
• Outdoor activities: schedule earlier in the day and later in the evening; slow down and take siestas in the heat of the afternoon; accept lawn care noise earlier in the morning and later in the evening.
• Garage: install an exhaust fan in the groj ceiling. To enhance the view of an open garage from the street - make it look more like a carport.

During 30 years of teaching, the most common excuse for not meeting a project deadline was, "I didn't have time."
I would ask, "Did you sleep last night?" Of course, they did. I then pointed out that they obviously had time. After some disgust on their part, they would admit, they actually did have time. What they really meant was that the project was not a high enough priority among all the options: eating, sleeping, socializing, games, work, laundry, and homework.
We constantly, throughout the day, make decisions and choices on how we spend our time - we prioritize that time since there is rarely enough of it to do everything we want to do. I have time to iron my shirts, I just don't want to. “I'm not going to edit your résumé, because it's not a priority." “I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority." If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice and we can waste it or we can prioritize and use it efficiently.
Changing one's attitude from the lie "I didn't have time" to the more accurate and honest "I chose to do other things that were of a higher priority" is quite liberating. If we don't like how we're spending an hour, we can choose differently.

Definition: A birthday is a day when a person celebrates the anniversary date of his or her birth. The full story.

I was sitting outside at Starbucks with the dogs, having a breakfast sandwich and an Americano. This car pulls in, right over the line and out steps a woman who, noticing my dropped jaw, looks back at her car and says, "I took up two spaces." (pause) "I'd better hurry!" Normally, this time of the morning, the lot is full. Fortunately, the extra space wasn't needed while she was inside. Maybe she just needed extra room to get back into her car. Her hands are full of drinks - she needs an exterior cup holder.
Below: more examples of selfish ego-centric self-centered me-me-me narcissism that is so prevalent today. Notice that each asshole also parked close to the door.

I suppose that these people, and thousands more like them, place their own desires (no door dings on my car, please!) above being considerate of others. They may think that they have 'earned' the right to do as they please.

On the flight to Oklahoma from NYC, I was looking out the window. I wondered what town we were looking at - so, I tapped the glass to bring up the map settings window so I could turn on 'Labels' which would add the layer of text over the map. Oops, it's a fucking window, not an iPad. Why are these planes not equipped with iPad windows? There could be a camera lens behind each iPad to capture the image beyond and display it on the screen. Then I could access it and have all the functions to manipulate and access info.
Or, I could do a better job of separating reality from my digital universe.
But, wait, maybe it could work. The screen could be much larger than an iPad. Instead of windows cut into the fuselage exterior, there would just be a row of camera lens along each side of the plane. The safety video could be shown on the pads before takeoff. In case of an accident, evacuation instructions could be displayed. Here's an example applied to a truck on the highway. There is a camera on the front of the truck and the rear door panels are large screens, projecting the image the truck sees in front:

We love ketchup and, in Texas, we love salsa. Pow! Put the two together. Both are dipping condiments and both are tomato-based. Why hadn't someone thought of this years ago?
I have always put pepper on my fries, so a ketchup with a bit of peppery hotness was an easy transition.

I normally do not eat at Whataburger because of the slogan painted on the window, shown below. The saying, added to the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s, is a symptom of stupidity. Those that promote it can't even explain what it means. Is the nation indivisible? Bull. Our nation has always been divided. Even after 9/11 brought most of us together, we were still not completely undivided. I am reluctant to patronize a place that displays its stupidity on their window (and seems to be proud of it.) I suspect they are just trying to promote their RepubliChristian beliefs in hopes of attracting more Okies to spend money there.

For some reason, I looked inside some trash can somewhere and noticed that the can was full but it was full of empty cups. An empty cup contains lots of air that takes up volume within the limited interior of a trash bag. It was an easy transition to the notion that if these cups had been flattened, they would take up much less space. So, now, I flatten empty cups before putting them in the trash can.
• Increased capacity of trash cans.
• Less trips to empty the trash can.
• Less liners used - less plastic wasted.

I was at the gym, Gold's on the north side. I was a new member and was doing some chest presses when I looked across the bicycles and rowers and saw the sign over a set of double doors: Cardio Enema. Huh? Did I read that right? It was a serious sign - individual thick letters mounted on the wall above the door. Was it a cruel joke or a mistake by the sign company that no one had yet noticed? I couldn't tell, but I figured that there may have been some exercises in that room I didn't want to do.

I finished the presses and then went to two other machines. I took another look. Nope, still there. Still says Cardio Enema. I got my stuff from the locker room, no shower, not after what happened last week, my first week at this gym. On my way out, I told the fit young woman at the front desk about the sign. She looked at me like I was a fool, turned to read the sign, read it again, gasped audibly, and ran to the manager's office. I waited, no one came out. I was satisfied: I had alerted them, not much else I could do. So, I went on out the front door just as two police cars pulled up, lights flashing. They ran right by me. As I turned back to look, they were pulling their guns out. I drove on home and made a protein shake. Chocolate. Sugarfree - well, I had just worked out.

Carl's Jr. and Hardee's were serving up a delicious symbol of freedom with the arrival of the Most American Thickburger. The Most American Thickburger unites three popular American picnic foods together on one bun: a split hot dog, potato chips, and a hamburger patty, along with a slice of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup and mustard, served on a bun. “A hot dog, potato chips, and a beef patty is, unquestionably, our most American creation yet."
"A burger this epic required an equally epic ad campaign that salutes all things American." American as the military, sex, red white blue, blond, liberty, boobs, cleavage. Statue of Liberty, aircraft carrier, skimpy bikini on a blog. Who do ya think the target market is - probly the FuxNews non-thinker. Simple colors, sex, and blind patriotism appeal to them (as does fast food).

Is this where the Texas flag came from?

Great business for when some people regret what they have done.

The Zen of leaving the toilet seat up or down.
Two ways to solve the seat up or down conflict:
• If you don't like the person you share the bath with, are annoyed by something they do, or want to feel in control over them, then bitch at them for not leaving the seat just the way you prefer it.
• If you love someone, care about them, and feel good about yourself, then just put the seat up or down as you prefer and go about your business.
So simple.
Other solutions: install a urinal for the men. I hope that one day, urinals will be common in homes. No more seat issue. Or, install a handle to decrease the yucky factor in touching and raising the lid. There are several styles of these available online.

Fascinating wisdom from Neil deGrasse Tyson (host of Cosmos on Fox, Sunday evenings)
If the gridiron was a timeline, the Big Bang would be on one goal line and the time from the cavemen until now would be just the thickness of a single blade of grass at the other goal.

To get an application for a job - instead of seeking a manager and interrupting the workflow - IHOP uses this device to dispense contact info for online or a phone call. The dispenser is like those that are used in bakeries and butcheries.
'Take a number, please' does have value as an alternative to standing in a sequential line. Wait until your number is called - wander the store, airport, or salon. Many of these places have an electronic board mounted up high that shows the number being served so those waiting can see hen to approach the counter. In the instance above, the number is replaced with contact information.

"Any damn fool can get complicated. It takes genius to attain simplicity."
From Bound for Glory, by Woody Guthrie. The Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa is well worth a visit. Guthrie is part of American history - many of us are familiar with the name but know little beyond a folk singer who wrote This Land is Your Land. But, there are so many more fascinating details - his artwork, poetry, and stories. The center is the home of the Woody Guthrie Archives, a collection amassed by his second wife (of 3) and bought by a foundation in Tulsa.

Why I can't watch all of the Disney Christmas Parade.
• There is constant background noise of annoying screams and yells. I have watched this parade in person. Nobody screams and yells throughout the entire parade.
• The people clap nonstop, even when the emcees are introducing a performance. How rude to clap while someone is speaking. I suspect someone at Disney felt that they needed to up the level of excitement and coached the parade audience to clap, yell, and scream (or added a clap-track).
• The visual images are flashed in constant rapid cuts. The viewer can't focus on a person, a dance number, or a song - the action is jerky quick cuts.
• It is just one very long and repetitive infomercial for the Disney Company. It is a cover for promoting Theme Parks, Hawaiian resort, Cruise ships, Films, and Broadway shows.