#wow / How a Gray Painting Can Break Your Heart.

I have always admired the work of Jasper Johns, but even more so after reading this story behind one of his works, “In Memory of My Feelings — Frank O’Hara.”

Beneath that gray are feelings that are irrepressible, uncontainable. And in this one painting, Johns shows how your one little life can become art that matters.

I highly recommend taking ten minutes to yourself—in an environment with no distractions—and digest this story.


Goodbye Another Dumb Year.

Given how long it took for 2021 to conclude, the last four weeks have gone by in a blink. So much has happened. So much to deal with that, it makes me tired just thinking about all of it. And these short days don’t help. Dear Heavenly Lord I hate the stupid winter so much, I just want to murder it. Anywho, I won’t drag you through the details, but I want to catch up.

I stepped down from LexBlog at the end of November. Looking back, we got a lot done in a year. A new product launch, complete revision of company processes and operations, introduced design thinking, and, most important of all, vastly improved morale and got almost everyone seeking collaboration instead of diving into silos. And as per usual, I pulled a handful of people up and into new roles I knew they were capable of, and happy to report they all stepped up and did remarkable work. I’m proud of everything I did at LexBlog, and I look forward to how the team will show up for 2022 and beyond.

What’s next for me is a variety of potential projects while I take some time to contemplate what I want to do in the next phase of my career. I spent some time recently cataloging all of the work I’ve done in the last six years. Looking back brought insight into work that was rewarding and the rest, which I am happy to leave in the past. I am leaning towards opportunities to work with people I enjoy, regardless of the work or the brand.

Life is too short to work with assholes.

While I wait to see what projects come to fruition, I signed up for a six-week cohort to study Foresight through the University of Houston. I discovered this practice recently, and it feels like a solid next step, building on the work I’ve done in the last decade.

On another unrelated but positive note, this Fall, I spent more time with doctors and in clinics than I have since I broke my leg in second grade (in ancient times). I’ve learned about some health issues that I have lived with forever that I didn’t know I had—the biggest problem is extreme sleep apnea. It was pretty crazy when a doctor told me that, according to the data, I don’t know what real sleep feels like. It’s only been in the last couple of years that it felt like something was wrong. Apparently, the human body—being the miracle that it is—compensates for the lack of restorative sleep. And that worked pretty well for a few decades until it didn’t. Just as I started to seek help, COVID hit, and many doctors stopped accepting new patients.

I’m sharing this with you because, in hindsight, I wish I had gone in to get tested a long time ago. Apnea contributes to several health issues as you get older, including putting a dent in your brain function. Meaning it’s more than just having a problem with snoring. If this sounds familiar, go take care of it before you turn into a vegetable. I’m happy to report that I should receive my new breathing apparatus soon, and I’ll finally get an idea of what all of this “real sleep” is all about.

Happy Holidays to you all. Enjoy your friends and family. Have fun with all of the “at home” movie premieres in the next seven days. Neuter your kids and get your dogs and cats vaccinated or vice-versa. Have a Merry New Year—drink up—because mid-term elections are coming and you know that’s going to be a real hoot!

#evil / "Under Facebook’s policies, users 'essentially have no rights.'"

The company took an Instagram account away from Thea-Mai Baumann, an Australian artist and technologist because she registered the username Metaverse nine years ago.

In 2012, she had started an Instagram account with the handle @metaverse, a name she used in her creative work. On the account, she documented her life in Brisbane, where she studied fine art, and her travels to Shanghai, where she built an augmented reality company called Metaverse Makeovers.

It took a month for Thea-Mai to get her account back from Facebook with no explanation from the company. If she had not raised awareness of this situation—to the extent that it received attention from the New York Times—she likely would still be waiting.

#art / Plus Equals #3.

Another quarter brings the latest issue of Rob Weychert’s fantastic zine. The subject is on creating seamless patterns.

In my design career, I’ve created my share of tile patterns, especially in the early days when the background of pretty much every website was a neo-Warholian eternity of stars or balloons or skulls or whatever. In patterns, as in any other aesthetic endeavor, beauty is not easily formulated or defined. Music theory and the golden ratio notwithstanding, the right brain guards its secrets well. But I’ve found that patterns that stimulate my left brain tend to obey a recognizable principle: the harder the individual tiles are to detect, the better. This often equates to complexity: greater complexity equals greater seamlessness equals greater wonder induced.

Achieving that kind of complexity in tile pattern design has typically evaded me, to say nothing of making it actually look good. But recently I started thinking about how complex, seamless tile patterns could be derived from relatively simple systems, and it wasn’t long before combinatorics entered the fray.

Intriguing from cover-to-cover, especially the gallery of combinations made possible by Rob’s process. The whole issue is beautiful, especially if you’re fortunate to receive the printed edition. What I really want now is a series of desktop images and maybe even the tile set to play with on my own.

#writing / I got 99 grammar problems and Oxford commas ain't one.

You’re going to want to bookmark this handy reference. An English grammar reference guide written based on data gathered by the AI-powered tool, Writer.

One of the questions our subscribers ask most, whether they’re proofreading pros or full-time students, is how they can avoid the most common grammar mistakes. In this list, we outline some of the most common grammatical errors we’re seeing, based on millions of data points from Writer subscribers.

My favorite of the list, Run on Sentences:

Contrary to popular belief run-on sentences aren’t necessarily long they simply occur when commas and/or other types of punctuation are missing like this.

My second favorite, the list of “7 major types of grammatical errors” that’s actually ten. I’m not sure if that’s an AI joke or not, but the information is super helpful none-the-less.

#ebike / Observations from 4,500 miles on an ebike—and why you should get one already.

Suffice to say, Colin O’Keefe has earned every mile of his point-of-view on ebikes. And he shares quite a few thoughts on ditching you car for an electric bike including this bullet point:

The very biggest part of this, something that’s impossible to put into words is this—it’s more fun. It’s way more fun than driving. If you need to do four different errands in your neighborhood, and you do it in a car, it’s torture. Whipping a bike to all four spots? The opposite. There is no feeling like going to a huge sporting event in which your team wins and cruising out into the night by bike. The only downside is you’re gonna hate driving even more than before.

I love my Vanmoof, but I already have my eye on the next bike, the all carbon-fiber LeMond Prolog. Check out the Wired interview, Greg LeMond and the Amazing Candy-Colored Dream Bike.

#purchasebehavior / How to buy nothing new this holiday season.

My better half and I stopped buying gifts for one another a while back because after the initial excitement wore off, the gifts we were buying didn’t make a lot of practical sense. It didn’t take too long before we had a better life buying what we needed when we needed it and trying to cut down on buying things for the sake of a holiday tradition.

I like Annaliese Griffin’s thoughts that add even more credibility to our capitalist habits this time of year.

Every new purchase puts into motion a global chain of events, usually beginning with extracting oil to make the plastic that is in everything from stretchy jeans to the packaging they come in. Those materials travel from processing plant to factory to container ship, to eventually land on my front porch, and then become mine for a time. Sooner or later, they will most likely end up in a landfill.

There’s so little pleasure in those kinds of purchases, and I’m not alone in that assessment. In her book “Consumed,” Aja Barber, a sustainability and fashion industry expert, writes about the perpetual disappointment of Black Friday shopping that ends in buying “merchandise you hadn’t seen before and didn’t especially want, but somehow felt compelled to buy because of the low, low, low cost.”

The last paragraph feels cringe-worthy because it’s true. “Stuff isn’t our identity,” as Annaliese writes, and “time spent together in conversation, on a walk or preparing a meal is far more meaningful than anything you can unwrap.” Time will always be the best gift you can give because not all of the money in the world can buy one more minute.

#film / Taika Waititi to direct The Incal.

This is fantastic news in so many ways. Aside from Luc Besson, I can’t think of a better creative person to bring Jodorowshy’s epic science fiction story to cinema. And, apparently, it’s just the beginning!

The Incal is also just the first work in a series of connected comics that Jodorowsky wrote (referred to as the Jodoverse), which could see the upcoming film be the start of the kind of long-running franchise that Hollywood has been chasing since the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With that in mind, Waititi is the best candidate to pull this off. What a great opportunity for people who make films.

#apple / Insanely great.

Steven Levy’s ode to the Macintosh published by Wired magazine in 1994.

The shape is now a familiar component of our culture, as instantly recognizable as a Volkswagen or a Coke bottle. But in November, 1983, two months before its public unveiling, I had never seen anything like it. All I knew was its name - Macintosh - and that it was supposed to change the world.

The first time I saw the Macintosh I knew that whatever I did in life, I wanted to do it using that computer. I bought my first Mac almost ten years later and never looked back.

#color / Contrast.

A nifty macOS app that makes it “easy to get the WCAG color contrast information you need to make informed decisions about the color of your text.”