Monday, April 28, 2014

spring exhibition - works in progress

our local art group's yearly exhibition is on the horizon. which means that we've stepped up the creativity around here. i'm putting together some rusty bits and pieces with driftwood, to fit the "skrot" (scrap) theme.

these are going to hang from something or other in a way that's still but a vague and blurry (partially due to my eyes being very affected by the birch pollen in air) picture in my mind.

i like that this one ended up having a kind of talisman feel.  it has slightly less rusty bits, but that's just the direction it went in.

tho' i'm still composing in my head, i know that the pressure of the deadline and an otherwise rather busy week will work together to make it happen. that's how it always is. i'm a girl in need of a deadline.

this old bottle of ink i got in a box of goodies at the autumn flea market a couple of years ago. rather fun to put it to use .

this broken pot is a piece that our drink & draw group worked on together on friday evening. the hostess of the last drink & draw dropped it and thought it would be a good idea to paint the shards and try to reassemble it. so that's precisely what we did.

i love how it turned out, even if it did take me 2 days to glue it together. we've got plans for it as well, involving some old shoes, a horse hoof with the shoe still one (the rest of the horse was long ago fed to the lions at a nearby zoo - that's how we roll in denmark, after all, we do like to keep our lions fed). due to all of us using the same inks, it harmonizes but bears the style of each of us. i like that. i'll be sure to share the final version once it's finished. i've passed it along to another from the group now.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

rite of passage

her father took this blurry shot of her at the church today and oddly i think it's my favorite photo of the day. and perhaps blurry is appropriate, since she went through the rite of passage that is a danish confirmation today. and tho' she's only 13 and confirmation no longer means she'll be sent off to make her way in the world as a maid or farmhand, like it once did, we don't know what the future holds for her. it's unclear at this point, but like this photo, full of beauty and promise anyway.

i've had my share of angst over this confirmation thing, but it was a nice ceremony and the sense of community that we all shared at the church, watching our beautifully-dressed young people go through a cultural rite of passage was palpable. i was also touched at how a number of our friends sent her flowers and cards at the church today to congratulate her. and she was touched as well. although we're not having her party for another 6 weeks, she thoroughly enjoyed her day and now she's off at the parties of two of her friends, laughing and having fun in the sunshine as they celebrate together.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

dinosaurs will be trolls

hmm, i've been blogging for nearly ten years (tho' there were periods of dormancy), and i've been blissfully fortunate not to have any serious encounters with online trolls. perhaps the limited reach highly awesome, select audience of my blog is the main reason. but whatever it is, i feel fortunate. especially after quite a shockingly trollish series of messages from a fan of my favorite plastic bricks via facebook. yikes! trolls are no fun. (i do realize i've used a photo of a dinosaur, so my metaphor is a bit clouded, but it's what i had at hand.)

at the same time, it was an oddly fascinating experience. this individual made a whole lot of crazy assumptions which he threw my way and then, despite my polite tone, in which i actually thanked him for giving me insight that was useful for my work, he blocked me. hmm. i wonder how that works? but however it works, i'm actually good with it, tho' a little bit of me wishes i'd have thought to block him first.

oh well, trolls will be trolls and dinosaurs will be dinosaurs and the odd dinosaur will probably even be a troll. and it's no good losing sleep over it. it really was a valuable insight into a certain type of fan and for that, i'm strangely grateful.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

throwback thursday: me & lenin

me, on red square in 1994.
taking a photo of my sister, who was obviously taking a photo of me.
she was standing in front of st. basil's
so her photo is more picturesque.
here, all we've got is some melting snow, bits of the kremlin
and lenin's tomb.
tho' i did quite enjoy that. in a creepy cool kinda way.

* * *

you know i am against the use of LOL, 
as i believe that god kills a kitten every time someone (over)uses it. 
but still, this made me laugh out loud.
good thing my parents don't have smart phones.

* * *

how cool is the packaging in this post?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014



...the birch pollen is bad right now. my allergies are much better than they once were, due to eating loads of honey made by our own bees, but the birch pollen gets me every year. this year, with a dull headache that i can't shake (in addition to the usual itching throat and watering eyes).

...that it requires a whole new language to even read about minecraft, let alone play it.

...sometimes, it just feels like you're herding cats. and even if you love cats, that's not an easy task.

...that saying how busy you are and how packed your calendar is as a marker of your importance does not impress me. nor does it actually make you important.

...that i have, without my knowing, suffered a loss of confidence. i'm more tentative and less sure than i used to be. i wonder if this is simply a consequence of being older and wiser or if i've actually truly lost something that i cannot regain. i used to go so boldly through the world and now i feel i tread more lightly. this is both good and bad. puzzling and a bit frustrating. but also fascinating somehow.

...that walking out into the yard and feeding the animals is my favorite part of my day. and honestly, my days are pretty filled with good things, so that must be awesome.

* * *

have a look at what my boss says about co-creation.
(have i mentioned that i love my job?)

and this review of the new lego brickumentary, which just debuted at tribeca, is funny.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

religion and culture intertwine

we didn't baptize sabin as a baby. i was reminded today, during easter services at the local church, why we didn't baptize her. there were two babies being baptized and in both cases, when the minister asked the question of whether the child believed in god and accepted the whole jesus christ story, the mother answered "yes" on the child's behalf. so two children were indoctrinated into a faith without having any say in it or knowledge of it themselves. which is precisely what i didn't want for sabin. i wanted her to understand and accept for herself when the time came. it's what my parents did for me (tho' i'm not sure if it was on purpose on their part or if baptizing the baby just wasn't really in fashion back then in the late 60s presbyterian church). whatever the reason, i am grateful and have done the same for sabin.

after the baptism part of the service was over, one of the families just left and didn't stay for the rest of the easter service. that struck me as a little bit harsh. kind of like a drive-in baptism. let's get it over with and get on to our party (and most importantly, our gifts). the grandparents sneaked out during the next song, as they missed out on leaving when the family themselves left.

the minister himself, a down-to-earth fellow who clearly didn't feel like shaving this morning (or possibly yesterday morning), despite it being probably the most important christian holiday, took it in stride, seeming not to even notice. he went on with his sermon. it was an easter sermon, of course, based on the reading of the easter story from one of the gospels (i'm not a biblical scholar, so don't ask me which one). it was the verse where the marys find jesus' tomb empty and there is talk of an earthquake and the appearance of an angel. he talked about how in the orthodox faith, people take it quite literally and on easter, greet one another with "he is risen, praise be, he is risen," or something along those lines.

he seemed quite cognizant of the fact that in today's denmark, people don't take the gospel quite so much as, well...gospel. it's more of a story and a culture and a metaphor that something bigger than us is there for us. we have chosen, in our culture, to call it jesus and god and the holy spirit, but what really matters is that this is a story that endures through the ages. and that, if we let it, it has the capacity to be a comfort to us in the midst of all of our other personal crises - deaths of those close to us, divorce, losing jobs, and the like. and somehow, it felt like he was ok with the family leaving after the baptism of their child, fully aware of the purposes the church serves in danish culture and his contribution to it. and the church was full (we and about a dozen others actually sat in extra chairs in the aisle, because every pew was filled), so he must derive some satisfaction from that.

confirmation is a big thing when you're a 7th grader in denmark. the preparations are held as part of the school day (thursday mornings from 8-9:30) throughout the school year, so if you should choose not to be part of it (which you are free to do), you would just go to school late that day. but i've told you about this before, so i won't rehash it all here. suffice it to say that sabin has chosen to be confirmed, which means that today, she had to be baptized. she's a teenager, so she didn't want to make a public spectacle out of it, so we arranged to do the baptism after today's easter service. i've had my issues with this minister, since he made sabin feel negated since he hadn't married, buried and baptized her family for four generations before meeting her at the first confirmation preparation course, but i have to say he won me over today with his pragmatic sermon and his scruffy beard. he was kind to her and understanding of her teenager-y angst about not being on public display. he talked to her kindly and when she answered for herself that she was accepting the christian faith, it was ok.

some part of me wishes she had chosen not to do it, mostly because as i heard those mothers accepting on behalf of their children today during the service, i thought about what a hard time i would have had, standing there lying in a church. because although i'm also raised in the tradition, i don't think i believe in it all in the same way anymore. but i believe she has gone into this with open eyes and that what she has accepted is to be an active part of the culture in which she is raised and in the western cultural tradition as a whole. i am also confident that she is an enlightened young woman and she is aware that the bible is a collection of stories with a historical basis and which are metaphors for meditation on the larger questions of life. we didn't baptize her because we wanted her to choose for herself and now she has, which is precisely what we wanted for her, that she would be the one to choose, not us. and next weekend, along with the rest of her peers and social group, she will be confirmed, not only into the church, but into the culture.

and there is something special about the ceremony of it all. i think that we, as humans, need ceremony in our lives. ceremonies around the different junctures - marriage, birth, puberty, winter and spring transitions and yes, death. the christian religion gives us that. and maybe that's not all bad.

Friday, April 18, 2014

skrot on the brain

skrot - it's a danish word for scrap, not something naughty, tho' it does look a bit naughty somehow. for me, it also has the connotation of being scrap metal, so it conjures images of fetching bits of rusty wire and iron. so i was very excited when our local art group, creagive (get that, we're creative in give) chose skrot as the theme for our yearly spring exhibition.

i didn't participate in last year's exhibition, as i felt like i really couldn't since i'm not a painter, but with this theme, it lends itself more to the mixed media/collage-style that i like. and with five days off here for easter, i'm getting down to business in earnest on the pieces i've been mulling over in my mind for several months. i got permission to go explore the container above (which i had sneaked a photo of a couple of weeks ago) and take what i'd like for the pieces i have but a vague picture of in my mind. alas, i went today to have a look and found, to my horror, that the container had been emptied. i'll be honest and tell you that i almost cried. i could picture one of my little fobots (found object robot) with curly hair made of those metal shavings and now that they're gone, i'm not sure what to do.

some members of the group were quite horrified by the theme, coming up with all kinds of violent and sexual connotations for the word (there is a meaning of it that's along the lines of up yours). but i say there's still potential to artistically explore those meanings as well, even tho' the word doesn't bring such things to my mind when i ponder it. perhaps i'm a little too in love with shipyards, as those are the images that come to mind for me - enormous, rusty bits of metal, lying around, looking fetching. i can see all kinds of potential in those. and i find myself also pondering ways of working some lego into my pieces - the contrast between the rusty metal and the colorful plastic could be very interesting.

in addition to a little grouping of fobots, i've also ordered this photo of a ship that's being scrapped in a large size. husband is going to help me make a frame that echos the scrap theme as well. i've found so much inspiration in the notion of rusty hunks of metal. i'm lucky there's no limit this year to how many pieces you can contribute. but we'll see how many of the ideas floating in my head and on my pinterest board, make it into reality and how they look when they do. inspiration is a wonderful thing.

a little gin review

every time i go down to germany, i pick up a few bottles of gin. i try to get old favorites (geranium, hendrick's) and a couple of new ones that we've never tried before. they have an awesome selection at the big grocery store, citti, and even a good selection in the various border shops, so there's always something exciting. to try. this time, i got blackwoods and tann's. with various guests, these two bottles are already gone! we definitely liked the blackwoods best of the two and i would even buy it again. we've been on a schweppes bitter lemon kick and used that with these gins instead of tonic, just for a change of pace. the blackwoods stood up to it better than the tann's, with just the right amount of juniper able to cut through the bitter lemon.

tann's is a much milder, less ginny gin. and by that i mean that there's hardly any juniper taste to it. in fact, if we'd had it with tonic, we'd have been sorely disappointed. it's a good gin to mix with bitter lemon. it's also a good gin to serve to people who say they don't really like gin, as what they likely don't like is that piney juniper flavor and tann's definitely lacks that. as a result it also lacks the crispness that i think that gin should have. i don't believe we'll be putting it in the cart again, despite the pretty purple bottle.

this is very interesting - it's a gin liqueur, not a regular gin. i'd bought hayman's before and we liked it and i'll admit i thought i was buying the normal hayman's again, expecting its crisp, clean finish. it was only after i got it home that i discovered that it was a liqueur. it's part of a trend i just read about in the new york times - liquor with split personalities. the article doesn't mention gin, but instead oak-barrel aged tequila and bourbon that's been sent to sea. but a gin liqueur is a similar hybrid. and it's just up husband's alley, as he's much more partial to sweet drinks than i am. we have used it like normal gin, mixing with the bitter lemon and he really likes it. me, less so, as i'm not keen on sweet. but it's good to have something on the shelf that's good for husband's evening drinkie poo and this is definitely perfect for that.

what are you drinking these days?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

why have i never felt young? #tbt

sabin and i in chicago in, i think, 2005. i was clearly still in my morning news anchor hair phase. i put this on facebook and a friend remarked that we were sweet and oh, so young. and it's true, i can see that (especially with sabin). but looking back, i don't think i felt young then. i can't remember ever feeling young, actually.

ever since i left college after my first year and lived for a couple of years in california (finding myself? losing myself?) before going back to a different university to finish my studies, i've felt older than the rest of the pack. because i'd spent those couple of years, i was then a couple years older than my fellow sophomores when i did return to university. that left me older than my fellow students in my various master's programs as well. tho' less so at arizona state, where there were other "mature" students in the program. i was a couple years older than my fellow fulbright scholars back in macedonia. i was rather old when husband and i got married (31) and pretty old when i had sabin (33), my first child.  that would put me at about 37 in this photo and i have to say that i didn't feel young. i was an older mother. older mothers are the norm now, i realize, so it's not with any sense of shame i say that. it's more that i feel a little regretful that i can't remember feeling young.

what is it about the times that we are in, that we can't appreciate them or really see them until later, in retrospect?

little pigs

we are getting such a kick out of the pigs. they come running up, curious and sweet, when we come out. bacon here had to snuffle up to my shoes to see if they were something to eat.

they run up, but then they also run away, squealing if you make the slightest movement, so they're both drawn to us and repelled. it's really very cute. sabin ran laps around their fence and they followed her on the inside, a bit like dogs, actually, squealing and kicking up their heels in absolute delight.

sabin crouched down and they immediately came up to her.  my favorite is the one with red around her eyes, just because she looks so cute. i'm thinking of changing her name to truffle and teaching her to find them so that we can keep her forever and ever. the one with the black spot on her side is the alpha pig, despite being slightly smaller, but overall, they get along great.

it's amazing how quickly our resolve to eat them come fall weakens in the face of their sweetness, curiosity and intelligence.

we're already discussing letting them be our mama pigs that we keep and raise piglets to eat from. i suggested that to husband and a look of relief flashed across his face. he's falling for them just as much as sabin and i are.

here truffle had to run away from sabin because she got scared of nothing at all. they run a little ways away and then turn and look and immediately start cautiously to come back.

truffle. i think that's a good name for her, don't you?

Monday, April 14, 2014

full moon rising

here's what it looks like when i attempt to photograph the moon.

and here's what it looks like when sabin takes the photo.
she's a natural, i tell you.

they say there will be a lunar eclipse tonight, but it will be tomorrow morning for us and it won't be so visible here. but at least we got to see the gorgeous moon tonight. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

what if?

what if....

~ you decided to let the petty irritations (irritators?) of life just wash over you? and decided not to react to them, but to just feel your reaction and go with the flow of it.

~ you gave people another chance, even if you were ready to write them off? and you actually tried to see the good in them, as difficult as it may seem?

~ what if the reason you were writing them off was largely due to how they looked? (and how shallow would that be of you?)

~ you could learn something from the experience?

~ those challenging people were placed in your path for a reason? even if you couldn't really see what that reason was. and you just trusted that it would become apparent with the fullness of time?

~ being able to to react differently meant a new beginning? and a new approach to life? and a new deeper sort of happiness?

i stayed up to 'til the wee hours discussing exactly this with a good friend the other night. it was precisely what i needed at that moment. amazing how you find your way to precisely what you need when you really need it. now to just remember it when the time comes. it's so easy to just revert to your fallback patterns and ways of reacting. but i think that this time i'm so interested in seeing what happens if i change that i'll remember our talk.

aside: i wish i could find my way to a lightheartedness with such posts that i once had. i wonder what's happened to it? i feel so deadly serious when i sit down to write these days.  i'd like to be fun again, but i can't seem to find my way out of the earnestness at the moment. i'm not sure why that is... but rest assured it's even more annoying to me than it is to you.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

as zeitgeisty as it gets

how had I never read this before? #microserfs

i wrote this review of the 1996 "classic" microserfs by douglas coupland on goodreads (hence the uncharacteristic capital letters). i'm too tired to change them all, so you'll just have to live with them. i loved the book. it spoke to my 90s soul. i can't believe i didn't read it at the time. if you didn't read it at the time, read it now. if you did, read it again, there's still something to it. and it's still about as zeitgeisty as it gets.

I read Generation X years ago and then didn't read anything else by Douglas Coupland. I'm not sure why. But in some sense, I can't believe I didn't read this back in 1996 when it came out. That said, I'm not sure I would have appreciated it then like I did reading it today. I accidentally worked for Microsoft myself during the early 2000s (accidentally because they bought the company I was working for, so I didn't exactly choose it). Not much had changed since the mid 90s, apparently, as the Microsoft he described was much as I remember it, tho' there were perhaps many more soulless cubicles on campus by the time I got there. I think the layers of fat in middle management he hints at were stronger by the early noughties and the Cult of Bill had definitely not subsided.

This book is dated in many ways - it's amusing now to harken back to Apple's Troubled Years Without Steve and the programming languages they talk about are a bit passé. But how prescient was Coupland with Oop! - it's Minecraft in a nutshell and those Minecraft guys are raking in the cash, albeit in Sweden, not in Silicon Valley.

And of course, the LEGO references throughout are nothing short of awesome in my eyes.

I wholly embraced postmodernist writing in the 90s and I think this is a prime example of it - I love the lists, the pages of code, the diary-style. It just speaks to me. But then, I guess I am of Generation X, so that's not much of a surprise. However, I also find it a bit lazy. Like Coupland included whole sections of his own diaries, filled with profound, but disjointed thoughts, rather than actually weaving them into a real story. However, this somehow accurately reflects how we are these days and that seems powerful.

It just speaks to my 90s soul and makes me want to dig out my Calvin Kleins and a worn flannel shirt and just sort of slouch around the place, lamenting the suicide of Kurt Cobain.

AND now to the quotes...
On LEGO (from Abe's Theory of LEGO):
"Now I think it is safe to say that LEGO is a potent three-dimensional modeling tool and a language in itself. And prolonged exposure to any language, either visual or verbal, undoubtedly alters the way a child perceives its universe. "

"First, LEGO is ontologically not unlike computers. This is to say that a computer by itself is, well ... nothing. Computers only become something when given a specific application. Ditto LEGO. ... A PC or a LEGO brick by itself is inert and pointless: a doorstop; litter."

"Second, LEGO is 'binary--a yes/no structure; that is to say, the little nubblies atop any given LEGO block are either connected to another unit of LEGO or they are not. Analog relationships do not exist."

"Third, LEGO anticipates a future of pixelated ideas. It is digital. The charm and fun of LEGO derives from reducing the organic to the modular."

"What do I think of LEGO? LEGO is, like, Satan's playtoy. These seemingly 'educational' little blocks of connectable fun and happiness have irrevocably brainwashed entire generations of youth from the infomration-dense industrialized nations into developing mind-sets that view the world as unitized, sterile, inorganic, and interchangeably modular - populated by bland limbless creatures with cultishly sweet smiles."

"LEGO is directly or indirectly responsible for everything from postmodern architecture (a crime) to middle class anal behavior over the perfect lawn. You worked at Microsoft, Dan, you know them - their know what I mean."

"LEGO promotes an overly mechanical worldview which once engendered is rilly, rilly (sic) impossible to surrender."

"LEGO is, like, the perfect device to enculturate a citizenry intolerant of small, intestinal by-products, nonadherence to unified standards, decay, blurred edges, germination and death. Try imagining a forest made of LEGO. Good luck. Do you ever see LEGO made from ice? dung? wood? iron? and sphagnum moss? No--grotacious, or what?"

"We agree about the LEGO. It is too pretty to sell. Somewhere a few weeks ago, like a piece of DNA with just the right number of proteins added, it became alive. We can't kill it."


"We can no longer create the feeling of an era ... of time being particular to one spot in time."

"Palo Alto is so invisible from the outside, but invisibility is invariably where one locates the ACTION."

"I got to feeling meditative. I felt as though my inner self was much closer to the surface than it usually gets. It's a nice feeling. It takes quiet to get there."

"Flight Simulation games are actually out-of-body experience emulators. There must be all of these people everywhere on earth right now, waiting for a miracle, waiting to be pulled out of themselves, eager for just the smallest sign that there is something finer or larger or miraculous about our existence than we had supposed."

"In the end, multimedia interactive won't resemble literature so much as sports."

"I began noticing long ago that years are beginning to shrink - that a year no longer felt like a year, and that one life was not one life anymore--that *life multiplication* was going to be necessary."

"I also say the world 'like' too much, and Karla said there was no useful explanation for people saying this word. Her best guess was that saying 'like' is the unused 97 percent of your brain trying to make its presence known. Not too flattering."

"It seems everybody's trying to find a word that expresses more bigness than the mere word 'supermodel' - hyper model - gigamodel - megamodel. Michael suggested that our inability to come up with a word bigger than supermodel reflects our inability to deal with the crushing weight of history we've created for ourselves as a species."

"How do we ever know what beauty lies inside of people, and the strange ways this world works to lure that beauty outward."

"I'm coming to the conclusion about the human subconscious...that, no matter how you look at it, machines really are our subconscious. I mean, people from outer space didn't come down to earth and make machines for us...we made them ourselves. So machines can only be products of our being, and as such, windows into our monitoring the machines we build, and the sorts of things we put into them, we have this amazingly direct litmus as to how we are evolving."

"And the continuing democratizing of memory can only accelerate the obsolescence of history as we once understood it. History has been revealed as a fluid intellectual construct, susceptible to revisionism, in which a set of individuals with access to a large database dominates another set with less access. The age-old notion of 'knowledge is power' is overturned when all memory is copy-and-paste-able - knowledge becomes wisdom, and creativity and intelligence, previously thwarted by lack of access to new ideas, can flourish."

Lucky Charms are symptomatic of a culture in decline.

"There's one thing computing teaches you, and that's that there's no point to remembering everything. Being able to find things is what's important. ... I think memories are always there. They just get...unfindable."

"Games have only recently been revealed as the passageway for the future of the human race."

"People without lives like to hang out with other people who don't have lives. Thus they form lives."

"Randomness is a useful shorthand for describing a pattern that's bigger than anything we can hold in our minds. Letting go of randomness is one of the hardest decisions a person can make."

"Las Vegas: it's like the subconsciousness of the culture exploded and made municipal."

"I guess the number of things we build defines the limits of ourselves as a species."

"Las Vegas is perhaps about the constant attempt of humans to decomplexify complex systems."

"I guess it's sort of futile trying to keep a backup file of my personal memories.

Not at all, because we use so many machines, it's not surprising we should store memories there, as well as in our bodies. The one externalization of subjective memory-first through notches in trees, then databases of almost otherworldly storage and retrieval power.

As our memory multiplies itself seemingly logarithmically, history's pace feels faster, it is 'accelerating' at an oddly distorted rate, and will only continue to do so faster and faster."

"What then--when the entire memory of the species is as cheap and easily available as pebbles at the beach?"
This is not a frightening question. IT is a question full of awe and wonder and respect. And people being people, they will probably use these new memory pebbles to build new paths."


"She's Mac, I'm Windows.
Entirely appropriate, because Windows is more male, and Mac is more female.
"Windows is nonintuitive...counterintuitive, sometimes. But it's so MALE to just go buy a Windows PC system and waste a bunch of time learning bogus commands and reading a thousand dialog boxes every time you want to change a point size or whatever...MEN are just used to sitting there, taking orders, executing needless commands, and feeling like they got such a good deal because they saved $200. WOMEN crave efficiency, elegance...the Mac lets them move within their digital universe exactly as they'd like, without cluttering up their human memory banks. I think the reason why so many women used to feel like they didn't "understand computers" was because PCs are so brain-dead....the Macintosh is responsible for upping not only the earning potential of women but also the feeling of mastering technology, which they get told is impossible for them."

ON THE GAP (the clothing store):

"You can go into a Gap anywhere, buy anything they sell, and never have to worry about coming out and looking like a dweeb wearing whatever it was you bought there."

"I figured that Gap clothing is what you wear if you want to appear like you're from nowhere; it's clothing that allows you to erase geographical differences and be just like everybody else from anywhere else."

"We also figured that Gap clothing isn't about a place, nor is about a time, either. Not only does Gap clothing allow you to look like you're from nowhere in particular, it also allows you to look as though you're not particularly from the present either. ... Gap permits Gap wearers to disassociate from the now and enter a nebulous then, whenever one wants then to be in one's head...this big places that stretches from Picasso's 20s to the hippie 60s."

"There are more Gaps than just the Gap. J. Crew is a thinly veiled Gap. So is Eddie Bauer. Banana Republic is owned by the same people as the Gap. Armani A/X is a EuroGap. Books Brothers ia Gap for people with more disposable income whose bodies need hiding, upscaling and standardization. Victoria's Secret is a Gap of calculated naughtiness for ladies..."

"The unifying theme amid all of this Gappiness is, of course, the computer spreadsheet and barcoded inventory.

"Deep in your heart, you go to the Gap because you hope that they'll have something that other Gap stores won't have...even the most meager deviation from their highly standardized inventoried norm becomes a valued treasure."

Monday, April 07, 2014

a boat for sale: in the style of j. peterman

she may have seen better days, but her best days are not behind her. not yet.

waiting there, beneath her forgotten exterior are memories of sun-kissed days, warm breezes wafting over her bow, and laughter onboard.

tawny limbs, lightly toasted by the sun, once stretched out on her deck. and they could again.

beads of sweat glistening on a cold bottle of beer. or better yet, a cold glass of bubbly.

lazy afternoons whiled away on gentle seas. picturesque harbors approached at evening. romantic dinners, tinkling laughter and clinking glasses.

all it would take is a little loving care and she'd be ready for all of that once again. breezy days and romantic evenings.

just a little imagination, some elbow grease and a captain's hat and gina III would be back in top shape in time for a little summer romance on the seas.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

what does a creative workspace look like?

i've been pondering what makes the physical surroundings of a workspace creative. because it strikes me that just filling it with creative people doesn't necessarily do the trick. i've been pondering this for awhile and have collected quite a lot of inspiration on a couple of pinterest boards - kulturhus and stationen (co-working). interestingly, some of the first photos i pinned were of a workspace in LEGO's project house, several years before i ever started working there. the space looks amazing - with light, open spaces, bright colors and even includes a slide.

it's a light, bright open space and you can look down upon it from above. but even in most of the photos, there aren't any people working in the space (that could, i grant, be because the photos were purposely taken when hardly anyone was around). the photos represent a common area, and what they don't show is that they are surrounded by a traditional open workspace filled with normal office desks (which can raise and lower, of course). they also don't show the noise factor and the fact that if anyone actually uses the slide, it's quite disturbing to those working around it.

there are small meeting rooms overlooking the space. this meeting room, while colorful and (of course) filled with danish designer furniture (arne jacobsen 7 chairs and a peit hein super ellipse table), looks pretty small and cramped to me. and what about the distraction of looking down on the bustling workspace below or having those below be able to look up? does that promote or hinder creativity?

the cabinets there are filled with LEGO in all sorts of shapes, colors and sizes where the designers go to get the materials of their creativity. these cabinets are found in many areas around the company and there is something delightful about having all of those creative materials at hand.

this couch looks inviting and like a great place for an informal sparring session or impromptu chat. however, it's right above the big space below and it feels like everyone would be able to hear your conversation. this could be bad if you're discussing something confidential, but it could just also be quite disturbing to those trying to work below. especially as conversations in LEGO can take place in many different languages.

and stepping back a little bit, you can see that there's another informal workspace, just beside this couch, where it's even more obvious that the spaces are potentially more disruptive to work than facilitating it.

interestingly, every aspect of this area was thoroughly thought-through and deemed to be very creative and to promote creativity. all of the intentions were in place. but, in my opinion, it just doesn't work. it's too open, too many desk-laden areas are adjacent and it's too disruptive to getting work done. but i don't necessarily have any answers as to what would be better. i have an intuition that it involves getting rid of outlook and powerpoint as the main tools of people's work. and i also have an idea that it doesn't involve big, open spaces, but little, enclosed cavelike ones, to which people can retreat and do solitary, intensive work and then re-emerge and engage with others. i'm not sure precisely what that looks like. but i'm pretty sure it doesn't involve noise-canceling headphones for the entire department.

i suspect similar amazing-looking, well-intentioned spaces at google and various co-working places are equally not conducive to creativity.

i've got this book, on the evolution of workspaces, on my order list.  and after i published this, i came across this article on how etsy tackles the problem. and then i came across this one, which i think has some great ideas.

what do you think an ideal creative workspace would look like?

tho' it's totally unlike me to use someone else's photos, i did in this post. all photos came from here