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Talk 2008


December 20, 2008


I was recently reading an article on popular names, and the way they, like clothing, move in and out of fashion. Do you know any Normas or Mildreds under the age of 50? Probably not. But half a century from now, younger people will undoubtedly find names such as Ashley and Madison a bit “old-fashioned.”

When I was in grade school, I was inevitably the only Sean in the class (with a very occasional Shawn) - even the teachers, on day one, might call roll asking for “seen.” But these days, Seans are a dime a dozen. In my company of fewer than 200 employees, we have 4 Seans, all of them spelled that way. I still don’t meet too many Sals though.



December 2, 2008


For quite a while it has been a truism in the Art World that there is nothing original under the sun. Everything has been done before. While I don’t fully agree with that, there certainly is a lot of “borrowing” that has gone on in the past, goes on at present, and will continue to happen in the future.

It’s an interesting part of the creative process, especially when viewed in light of current copyright law. Of course, egregious examples-such as using a likeness of Mickey Mouse in my painting-are considered infringement. But there are many instances where an artist can get away with “copying” aspects of another’s work in the name of homage.

Anyway, art is hardly the only area where this happens. I saw an ad today for the new BMW M series, touting its new “double clutch” transmission, as if they were the originators of this technology. Porsche this year is also making a big deal of its “PDK” (Porsche Doppel Kupplungen - good idea to give it an acronym) double clutch manumatic gearbox. Ha! Seems to me I've been driving a dual clutch transmission - the original - since 2004.


October 31, 2008


I have never before been so interested nor so involved in an election campaign as I have been in this 2008 presidential race. If Hillary Clinton were running against McCain, I would be fully behind her, but I think it would be in a perfunctory way, as a responsible citizen fulfilling my civic duty to vote against the failed policies of Bush and all that the Republicans stand for. I doubt if I would have donated to a Clinton campaign once, much less the four times I've dipped into my meager bank account for Obama. What he promises for this country, he has already in a sense delivered: I am sure I am not alone in having a genuine, palpable sense of renewed hope.


September 18, 2008


This is the Talk section of my website, but I don’t even have any words for this . . .

eva's feet
Photo by Eva Guo


September 8, 2008

Two in One

I found a great image while surfing today. A typographical hand . . . very well done, by DryBones90 on deviantart.com

typographical hand


August 22, 2008

Snail Mail

Like most people, I get far less mail from the USPS these days than in the past. Maybe only 1 or 2 pieces of personal mail - a letter or a card - in a month. So imagine my surprise today when I got two pieces in one day - one from my mother, and one from my father. Nice.


June 20, 2008


Easily my favorite flower, peonies are in season at the moment. What I like about them is their extravagance, their lushness, their unabashed beauty. To place them in a room is to transform the space, and for the brief period that they are in bloom, to effect a change in oneself. They make me happy.



May 24, 2008


I rode the track at Hellyer in San Jose today. There was a very bad crash, and a woman was knocked unconscious. Her helmet was intact - apparently most of the impact was to her face. The EMTs arrived quickly, and she was in an ambulance within something like 10-12 minutes. But when they took her away she was still unconscious. I hope she will be okay.

Life presents us will all kinds of risks. Some are just there, we don’t choose them - if you walk out of your front door in the morning, something might happen to you - and others we willingly accept as the price of admission to certain activities. Those of us who race bicycles understand what kinds of risks are involved in our sport.

But it’s days like today that make me wonder if maybe it’s time to retire, and return to my first sport, tennis. I played competitive tennis between the ages of 10 and 17. In that time I can’t recall even one occasion when someone left a tennis match in an ambulance . . .

crash at hellyer
Photo by Jamie Morgan


May 3, 2008


And, as a kind of followup to that last entry, I had some thoughts after stopping by Art Murmur - Oakland’s art walk on the first Friday of each month - last night.

This is a great place to see lots of ironic hair. Oh, and your piercings are so . . . so . . . so very much like that person’s over there. I wonder how many of them are here for the art, and how many are here for the scene? Care to take a poll?


March 31, 2008


Sometimes you find something, and you realize that there’s just no way you could say it any better. This is from craigslist, reposted today on reddit:

Thanks, Mr. Hipster Record Store Clerk.

Date: 2008-02-26, 5:25PM PST

Dear Hipster Record Store Clerk,

Thank you for judging me on the CD I bought yesterday. Our passive-aggressive altercation made me realize how conformist I am for buying an old Rage Against The Machine album. Your condescension was just the intellectual wake-up call I needed.

I discovered a new me yesterday, and my eyes were opened in a new way. Thanks to you, I realize now that the key to enlightenment is reading Pitchfork, watching High Fidelity, listening to Velvet Underground, having a tattoo of a star on the inside of my wrist, growing an ironic mustache, living in the Mission, and wearing a too-small sweater, multi-colored 70’s ski-vest, chunky plastic-frame glasses, a high school sports T-shirt, air-tight black jeans, and Nixon-era Chuck Taylors.

I had it all wrong, man. You showed me that a skilled job and a comfortable living is just a lie. I need to go to art school, have my parents pay my rent, join a Joy Division-influenced band, and wait for a record deal, like you. I’m totally missing out in life.

So thanks again for mocking me. I mean, at first I thought you were just a pathetic, frustrated musician trying to feel better about yourself. But now I see you’re an uncompromising visionary.

No one will ever understand you. You’re so different.


Everyone Not Like You


March 23, 2008

Thinking independently

I read something I really liked in the DWR newsletter this month:

“I discourage my students from becoming designers. Designers tend to think alike. They even dress alike. I want my students to become good, strong citizens, independent thinkers and entrepreneurs. I try to get them to look inside themselves for answers, and not to follow trends or fashion. I try to get them to be open, and to expand their ideas of what design is and could be. I encourage them to see possibilities everywhere, love the process and read Rilke. Only when students question everything can they find ways to surprise themselves and, ultimately, their audience. But I think one of the most important things I do with my students is allow them the freedom to fail. This is important to me because when you are free to fail, you stop searching for the ‘right’ answer. I teach design, not math. There is no right answer. No right typeface or right color. My own work is a continuous search for illogical ideas, the beautiful ugly and the confidence to put it on a page.”
- James Victore


March 5, 2008

Adults on bicycles

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”
- H.G. Wells


February 27, 2008


Just like I did in Japan, I commute to work nearly every day by bicycle. The ride is shorter here in San Francisco, although if I didn’t take BART in between Oakland and S.F. it would be much longer. Here are two photos, one taken on each commute. I’m sure you can tell which is which.

on my commute


January 14, 2008

Spending money

In regard to consumerism, and especially “brand goods,” I thought this quote from John Maeda explained very well my position:

“The cost of college tuition is high everywhere, and having five children I’m aware more than most that I want to make sure the investments we make in their future are good ones. As for comparative costs, I do know it’s more expensive to go to MIT than RISD, and I haven’t done a study as to why that is so. But as someone that does actively purchase things from brands like Issey Miyake and so forth, I do know that when I do so I’m buying something of excellent quality that goes way above the standards of items from other brands. For instance I bought a shirt from the Gap that lasted for maybe a week before it fell apart in the wash; on the other hand a shirt I got from Comme des Garcons has lasted for ten years and still looks like it is new. So for whatever RISD costs to go to, its value is likely to last a much longer time than most other schools out there.”

This is from a very nice interview with Maeda on Rob Forbes’s website.


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