Let’s be true, part one

truth-obamaSo the email shown at left appeared in my inbox yesterday. I thought, “Gasp, he will really alienate a lot of people by doing that!”

Then I did a little research. That claim was completely untrue! See the bottom left. From that article, “The Obama administration has both tweeted and confirmed in an e-mail to the Associated Press from spokesman Matt Lehrich that Obama still plans to recognize The National Day of Prayer as it did last year.”

I am not sure where Tangle got their information, but that sort of brief summary of an issue is inflammatory and uncalled for. Shame, shame, shame!



biohazardWhen I saw this logo, the first thing I thought of was “biohazard”. I don’t have any negative feelings towards Disney Stores, but their logo looked a lot like the biohazard symbol.

Yes, I know there is the figure-ground thing happening (for those of you who might have taken an art class). But the red toxic waste aspect to the symbol also conspired against my perceptions.

It boils down to usability. They designers (or the client) should have tested this application of the logo with a few more people before it saw the light of day. A simple change to light green would have done the trick.


Art here

r-shadow-artI was amazed when I saw Rachel doing this the other day — she was tracing the shadows with chalk on our porch. I never would have thought of doing that — but (I thought) it was very creative.


Let’s be honest

bad-infoI saw this on an otherwise respectable website.

Maybe I’m too modest in my approach to communication, but I would never say something like that about a service or idea I offered. For one thing, it is simplistic. For another, it is not modest in any way — the claim is that the person who clicks there will get guaranteed results. If the vendor actually did guarantee the results, that claim might be believable.

We are all too smart today to believe claims like that. When such claims are made, most intended clients will shut down the message and not go any further.

Takeaway: Promise what you can truly deliver. Otherwise, give a visible footnote or two explaining that most people find your claim to be true.


Cool cars

crzjag-clockLast weekend, my son Jay, his friend Taylor and I went to the Denver Auto Show. It was great!

A highlight was seeing the Honda CR-Z in real life. It’s a small 2-seater that’s the grandchild of my favorite car that I ever owned, a Honda CRX. They both have a great combination of fun driving and excellent fuel economy. The CR-Z updates the formula by adding hybrid drive. (And of course the cost will be about four times what the CRX was, not adjusted for inflation.)

The lowlight was the new Jaguar XJ. For more than $72,000, it did not deliver anything close to my expectations. Admittedly, I did not get to drive one. But I sat inside and played with all the knobs and controls. I was completely unimpressed at how one of the rear passenger lighted mirrors did not come on like it was supposed to. And from this pic, you can tell that they stylist chose a clock that would have been more at home inside a 1980 Cadillac. It also looked like I could have bought one off a vendor in the streets of Nairobi for about $20.

My only regret about the show was that John could not join us. (He’s in Germany.)


Effective snow fence

snowfence1One of the things I love about driving to Texas from Colorado is passing through the wide open spaces. Our normal route crosses the northeastern corner of New Mexico, where there is much beauty to be seen, if you are willing to stop for it.

We visited Capulin National Monument during one of our trips, five or ten years back. Well worth the hour or two we spent there.

I was struck by the effectiveness of this snow fence along Highway 87. There was hardly any snow for miles in each direction, but drifts were piled up just below the level of the porous slatted fence.



listsMy sister who lives in Belgium and I like to exchange lists. Other people’s lists. We often find them outside supermarkets, thrown away and tossed by the wind.

These two were enjoyable — the top made me wonder, “What in the world is a ‘Bumbo Baby sitter Pink’??” And the bottom — much smaller amusement — but I enjoyed the interesting spelling of “popscikles”.

Finally, there is a magazine devoted to this sort of thing. I have never subscribed, but I like to visit their site from time to time.


Not going to buy it

souvenir-mugHaving access to a digital camera is so freeing. I no longer have to buy things. I can just take a picture, and all it consumes is a few megabytes. Virtually no money is involved. No cubic feet, inches or centimeters need to be occupied in our cabinets. No children need to take trips to the Goodwill (charity shop) after I’m gone. No decisions in the morning of which mug to use.

But I do have a nice reminder of the visual texture a few hundred mugs provide.

Take only pixels, leave only footprints.

(By the way, those of you who know me realize I would not take one of these mugs for myself, even if it was free. And this is not a comment against those of you who like to collect mugs. I do collect physical — and virtual — toothpaste. I have my vices.)


Advice that should be given

horse-head2One of the most memorable moments of design school was when the lead professor (Frank Cheatham) said, “If you are here to learn to draw better horses, then you are in the wrong place.”

That always stuck with me. When we enter a learning experience with too strong an idea of what we want to get out of it, we will probably not learn very much.

Somehow I wanted to work that thought around to my next idea, but I couldn’t figure out how. Maybe it’s that the above advice should have been given a long time ago to a young person I know. They are in a program that is just not suited to them. They are so far down the road that it’s too late to do something else. They seem to be happy enough (though the course of study is quite a challenge), but no one has ever given that advice.

They are (proverbially) drawing a lot of horses. Hours and hours, days and days, spent drawing more horses.

I’m a bit ashamed that I did not have the courage to say something.

Would you have said something?

The horse painting — it’s copyright-free from Dover Publications. And the artist must have enjoyed creating it.


Just the right amount

mail-truckHave you ever looked closely at a mail truck? (If you’re in the UK, substitute a milk float.)

It’s a crude design… The bolts are exposed. The gas cap is visible. The corners are square. The windshield is nearly upright.

But so what? Most of the time, it travels no more than 30 mph. Aerodynamics — no need. Style — why should they bother? Speed — next to none. Cushy ride — well, the postal worker might appreciate better.

The cheapest car you can buy has a much smoother design. Its interior is way more refined. But its intended function is different. And car manufacturers have hugely more competition for than mail truck creators.

Takeaway: Don’t put too much effort into something that doesn’t need it.