Monday, March 27, 2006

A piano duet to remember

To remember:

This weekend, my son and I played our first improv piano duet. He, being six years old, and me much older. We were just messing around, and suddenly, we realized we were playing together, so we kept going. I repeated a chord high up, and he started to play single notes, and chords, varying the rythm, tempo, volume, and even telling me "Daddy, keep playing when I stop" so that sometimes his part was silent (how do you teach the value of pauses in music? I didnt even think that he would understand!). We played off each other, "daddy, get softer when I get softer," traded rythms, traded leads.

We played for a good five minutes like that. it was beautiful, George Winston sounding music. One of those beautiful parent moments that can happen all of a sudden. Just blogging about it to make sure I remember.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Squidoo lens on Eichlers

I've been playing with Squidoo, kind of a way to pile your web resources together. Squidoo calls these pages 'lens' as in, a lens through which to view the web.

It reminds me of the early days of Yahoo, when a friend told me they were going to get a job surfing the web and posting their best picks. Yeah, I thought, that might be fun while you're waiting for a real job to come along. This friend of course is long since retired....

Anyways, I've created a Squidoo lens about Eichler homes, as an experiment, and since it's something I'm at least a little bit passionate about. Smartly, Squidoo has metrics to encourage people to keep building their lens and keep them fresh and relevant. I admit I've been hooked by watching my lens break into the top 100 (when I mentioned it on my favorite Eichler resource) and then sink back into obscurity.

So, for now its basically a nice online bookmark folder, keeping track of online articles, favorite web resources, web pages, amazon goodies, photos from flickr, etc.

An ongoing experiment, let's see if it stays relevant and easy to use.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Sample Sale at Neighborhoodies, or The Opposite of Amazon

Neighborhoodies is now offering totally unique one-off 'samples' of their customized hoodies and other products. This has got to be the perfect use of the web. As Neighborhoodies descibes it:

"Let's not sugarcoat it. You get the perfect Neighborhoodie. But maybe, just maybe, it took a few tries before we mailed it out to you that way.

"Okay - we have *thousands* of misspelled / wrong colored / wrong sized Neighborhoodies that didn't pass muster with our Quality Control Brigade. Remember we told you that we hand-make every order with love? Well, sometimes those hands make teensy weensy boo-boo.

"So what happens to the lil orphans of imperfection? Neighborhoodies is proud (sort of) to begin a new daily 50% rate on one of a kind, hand-stitched flubs.

"Each day one new item: available only till it sells! "

Talk about the very, very tip of the long tail.

update April 3rd: The hoodie shown above is the one I just got in the mail today. sweet.

Reminds me also of woot, which offers only one product every day.

Friday, March 10, 2006

slow design and repetition

I heard that at TED, Tony Robbins asked"How many of you have rented a movie you've seen before?"

His right answer: "Get a life!" As in: don’t do it!

Really struck a nerve.

I have books I've read and movies I've seen dozens of times. I have songs I still enjoy after knowing them for years. I welcome the familiarity. Each time I find another nuance, or reinforce some meaning. I cant imagine having put these away after just the first time through.

When I snowboard, I like to find a run I like and hit it again and again. Explore the edges of it. Find the hidden powder stashed behind the washed out turn. I don’t understand people who like to cross off runs like tasks on a checklist. How can you actually have experienced that slice of the mountain, have just brushed by it once?

I actually don't mind the mindless repetition of vacuuming.

I have an art project in my head where I drag my finger down a length of wood, an infinite amount of times, until a path is created.

Is this wrong?

One of the big draws to being a designer at a consultancy is that the work doesn’t get stale. One is always learning about different businesses, meeting new clients, experiencing new things. I really enjoy that.

On the other hand, I think design is like running, you get better by doing it, which means doing it again. And again. Skills like prototyping are about repetition, about allowing yourself to learn new things about the same idea. About not expecting -actually not allowing- perfection. But expecting to get one step closer to somethign worth knowing.

"Deep experience of the world — meaningful and revealing relationships with the people, places and things we interact with — requires many speeds of engagement, and especially the slower ones."

There is a group called slowLab which seems to resonate with that appreciation for the slow. The quote above is from their website.

Credit to metacool and design observer for seeding some of the thoughts that coalesced here.

Rice Daddies Represent

Just came accross perhaps the most important parenting blog out there: rice daddies. It's an uber-blog collaboration of several Asian-American daddy bloggers. As contributor Metrodad describes it:

"And although I'm a 37-year old man, husband, father and friend, I can't escape the fact that I'm also Asian-American. It's not only an important part of who I am and something I'm proud of but it's also an important aspect of raising my daughter. I want her to grow up being proud of her Asian background yet assimilated with the world around her. I want her to celebrate her ethnicity but also respect the amazing diversity of the people around her. And, above all, I want her to grow up with a philosophy and culture of inclusiveness, rather than one of separatism or xenophobia.

"So, because this is one of the many things I think about as my wife and I raise our tiny, little girl, I'm proud to announce that I've joined a group of fellow Asian-American fathers in starting a new blog. It's called Rice Daddies.

"The two tag lines we've been using on the site are "the kind of guys Amy Tan doesn't write about" and "the Asian dads you wish you had." I think that might give you a general idea of what kind of attitude the blog will have."

Isn't this me, but with younger kids? Adding this immediately to my RSS feeds and lists andother online nonsense. Rock on, rice daddies.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More than I wanted to know

I've been really appreciating this trend of companies sending out their emails like an informal letter from the Boss. I get a weekly email from Lee at the comic book shop down the street, an occasional one from Rod at the plastic gears company, and once in a while, a message from Charles, the personality at Cook's Illustrated.

Charles' newsletter is filled with great Americana tidbits about getting maple syrup from the trees, hunting for quail, etc. I think he went a little too far this last newsletter, though. See if you could spot the point at which I went "whaaaa?":

"After more than two hours of hiking, we made it to the top--3,300 feet--and looked down the "oven," a steep bowl that leads down into Kent Hollow. And, although this sounds like a National Geographic special, a large, black bald eagle flew right by us.

We then circled around the summit, which was thick with small hemlocks, looking for the remains of a plane crash from the 1980s. (We didn't find it.) That reminded Marty of another plane crash back in the 1960s. Carl Hess (he is the guy standing up in Norman Rockwell's famous painting Town Meeting) was pumping gas and looked up to see a small 1943 two-seater hit turbulence. A wing was sheared off (it was found four miles away up in the mountains next to Stubby's camp), a passenger was thrown from the plane, and then it nose-dived into the cornfield behind the gas station.

Oakie gave us the panoramic tour of our valley from the summit. Looking east, we could see Mother Myrick Mountain; Kate, Mears, and Corbett Hollows..."

OK, beautiful American scenery is fine. Reminiscing about people falling from planes? I'm hearing those banjos from Deliverance.