Photos and Words of Patrick Calder

I live in Washington, DC with 1 cat named Pixel, 6 cameras, 3 computers, 158 movies, 286 books, and 1 bowling pin. I own the Design Foundry and pretend to be a graphic designer by day.

Estimating / June 27, 2013 / Comment on this

This post is about business, so… you know, caveat emptor.

Probably the single most common thing I do in business is write estimates. If people are even vaguely interested in a project, I can tell them about how much it would cost to have me do the work. No charge for the estimate. And certainly they don’t all lead to paying work. But very few paying jobs proceed without them. The latest one — written today — was around number 550. That’s more than 1 a week, since I went into business for myself.

I dislike writing them. Or at least find it to be difficult, tedious work. I think people look at it as something you can just plug a few numbers into, and then send out. But those numbers don’t just come out of thin air. I have to understand the project. I have to wrap my head around every possible aspect of the project, and be able to approximate how much time and resources will be required for those steps. And if I’m working on 5 or 6 projects on any given day, (and I am), it takes a feat of concentration to be able to push it all aside mentally and focus enough to build this whole project in my mind.

So lets say I’m stupid enough to try. I’ve built myself a kind of formula, to make the calculations a bit simpler. I broke down the average job into phases.

  1. Research
  2. Cleanup
  3. Populate (optional)
  4. 1st Author Alterations
  5. 2nd Author Alterations
  6. Meetings (optional)
  7. Rush (optional)

And for web sites, you can add:

  • Code Sample Page
  • Template

Research is the time I spend coming up with ideas. Looking through samples. Finding inspiration. Making sketches.

Cleanup involves taking all those sketches and ideas, and putting them into clean, digital proofs, so they client can look them over and start making choices. Usually after this stage, we have a design direction.

Populate comes into play for long pieces… books, reports, websites. My initial mockups only have a couple sample pages or spreads. So if it’s a long piece… then once a design direction is chosen, I apply to the remainder of the content.

1st and 2nd Author Alterations are the comprehensive sets of fine-detail edits that the client wants to make to the project. They go through and review the whole piece, collect every edit they want, and send it to me. I encourage/restrict my clients to use this “set of edits” method, rather than sending them over piecemeal. Piecemeal edits are a pain in the ass. Either you’re constantly jumping between jobs to make a repeated small edits, or you’re forced to collect and collate all the edits yourself, which can be difficult if they start overlapping. So my estimates include 2 ’rounds’ of edits. Anything significant beyond that gets billed hourly in addition.

On websites, once the design is set, I have to code a sample page with the design. This gives my the basis for the website and lets me work out any programming or interface bugs.(And occasionally to make sure I can actually accomplish some new, ambitious design element). Then I take and merge that sample page into the templates for whatever CMS I’m using.

And if I it appears as if I will have to spend a significant amount of time interacting with client… repeated meetings, or tutorial sessions for a new website, or such, I will add on some small amount of time for ‘Meetings’.

For everything listed so far, I figure out what number of hours, or percentage thereof, I will need.

Occasionally a project is a rush. Well… every project is rushed. But there’s a scale of rushes. Do you need this for your conference in a couple weeks. No problem. Do you need this add in 2 hours? Rush. And the rush is a percentage markup. Usually around 20%, although that can vary based on severity.

So total up the hours. Apply any rush markup. And then multiply by my hourly rate.

To further make my life easier, I have a spreadsheet. It includes the above calculations, already set up, for a variety of job types. So I already have a tri-fold brochure on there. And a 12 page report. And a logo. And a 10 page website. And…

And don’t forget to add in costs. Stock Imagery. Printing. Hosting. Special software. Programmers. Photographers. Copywriters. Editors…

oops / March 6, 2009 / Comment on this

you gotta love the world sometimes.
I send my client proofs over a year ago for some new letterhead. It has been discussed a couple times since then, but nothing was ever finalized. So I just sit on it, and will bill it when it’s done someday.
Today, one of their employees send me a file they call their digital letterhead, asking me if I could update the address on it. And guess what the artwork is.
Well nice to know I can now bill the job… and maybe a little extra.

sketch / February 13, 2008 / Comment on this

So here’s a bit of what I was working on. My sketchbook is a mess. It would probably mean nothing to another designer. But I just get enough down so I can remember what I was thinking. That way I can get the idea out of my head and make room for something else.
When I started as a designer, I thought sketching was mostly a waste of time. I felt that it was much easier to modify your art on screen, so why would you waste time with a pencil. And I even had a coworker bitch me out for asking the boss for a sketchbook, because I could ‘just sketch on the back of user copier paper’.
Now… I always have to start with sketches. The computer is too concrete. And once I start messing with something digitally, I have a hard time putting it down until it’s done. Sketching on paper is fast and loose and much more inspirational for me.
2264132076_e170b31d0e.jpg

Burning the Midnight Oil / February 7, 2008 / Comment on this

It’s now a bit after 6:30 am, and I just sent off some art to the client. I promised them something by this morning, and unfortunately I seem to be better working on this particular project in the wee hours of the day. But I quite like the design, (*knock on wood*), and the payment for the job is pretty good.
2246812777_9fecb4e35a.jpg
This was yesterday’s “picture of the day”. I took it on my way down to Penn Photo to get some pictures developed. I like it, though I’m having a hard time thus far saying why. It has nothing that jumps out at you. But it’s distinctly city, and of a street not yet made up totally of homogenous boxes.
Gawd. It’s getting light out. I really need to go to sleep now. I have a hard time sleeping in daylight.

collage chaser / October 19, 2007 / Comment on this

I felt kinda good about today. Was an overall positive day. And I felt like I accomplished something while working. And Refresh was entertaining, if not educational, tonight.
So it’s unfortunate when I got home that my email was clogged with messages from clients whining about a pile of petty little things. Doubly depressing when, after handling what I immediately could and filing anything undeserving of a response, I had only 1 email left. So not only did they piss on my mood, but it wasn’t in the least bit productive.
This calls for a photo collage. My recent favorites:

How to get a good copy of a logo / February 17, 2007 / Comment on this

There are a few tricks to getting a good logo. In this case, when I say “good”, I am strictly referring to the technical nature of the digital artwork, and not the artistic merit nor communication capabilities of it. The basic traits of a good logo file are:

  • vector format
  • spot colored
  • all type converted to outlines

Ask for it

First, tell your client you need the logo. Yes, they probably sent you a GIF off their website that wouldn’t even look good to Helen Keller. But often they just send you the first thing they can find, because they don’t know any better. So the first option should always be to simply tell them the specifications of good art, and ask them if they can find it in their own company or files.
And occasionally when the logo is from someone other than your direct client, (a sponsor, for example), you can always find their communications department and call them. Explain to them about your project, and ask if they can provide the artwork you need.

Download it

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer companies even keep good copies of their identity package around. But if you’re lucky, and the client is fairly well known or large, you can download their logo. First, check the “About Us” section of their website for a page made just for this purpose. Bigger companies and organizations often have their whole identity standards manual online.
If that doesn’t work, check out Brands of the World, (formerly logos.nina.ru). It is a unaffiliated archive online for vector-format logos from anywhere. Their searching and browsing interface is pretty weak, but their archive is very extensive. Even when you can’t find the exact logo you’re looking for, you can often find a variation on it.

Cheat

Many companies are ignorant of what they actually have in the way of artwork. Or their “regular designers” simply don’t share their files with the client. So a good copy exists, of course, and is being used. They just don’t know it. But thankfully, everyone is obsessed with the internet, now, without really knowing why. So every major document and announcement is posted to a company’s website, and most often in PDF format. Download a PDF of their annual report or similar document, and you can often open the file in Illustrator and grab a perfect copy of their logo.
Don’t know where to find the PDF on their huge corporate website? The easiest solution is to use Google. You go to the “advanced search” section of google, and you can tell it to show you all the PDF files available under any given domain name. It’s amazing what will turn up.

Suck it up

If their logo is bad enough that you really don’t think it should be printed, tell them. Tell them if it can’t be found, it needs to be recreated. And if you really don’t feel up to it, hire me. 🙂 And once you do have a good copy of the logo, do yourself a favor, and as I suggested in my last post, start a logo archive of your own.

Design Tip #35768 – Keep a Logo Archive / February 14, 2007 / Comment on this

As a designer, you tend to be involved with many logos over time, both your own and others. Everyone and their sister’s lesbian roommate’s cousin has a logo, and you will eventually probably use them in some project. And if you have any sense at all, you back up all the art from your projects anyway. But I recommend keeping a logo archive, preferably in a convenient location for immediate use. Logos, when done right, are very small files, so they won’t take up much space. Not a week goes by that I don’t go back to my archive to pull up a logo. If it would otherwise take 5 minutes to dig up the right file, that’s a savings of over 4 hours, over the course of a year. But most importantly, it will inevitably improve the quality of your work. It never ceases to amaze me how many companies — large or small — can’t provide you good copies of their logos. By saving the best copy you can find of everyone’s logo, your work improves and you exceed your client’s expectations.

Work: What did I charge? / October 23, 2006 / Comment on this

I need to be more efficient about tracking what I estimated a job to cost. Whenever possible, I generate a “real” estimate with Quickbooks (QB), so it’s all in there, waiting for billing. And for smaller, “promo jobs”, I’ve taking to creating an empty folder inside the job folder, with the price I estimated in the name of the folder.
But the bigger jobs that don’t make it into QB also don’t get that little pricing folder. Ideally, I should just promise to always input big jobs into QB. But yeah… let’s be realistic about what I actually will do. And having to go back and search through emails 6 months old for a price just isn’t cutting it.
So price-labeled folder or…?

Shopping / May 21, 2006 / Comment on this

I’d like to thank Hecht’s for making my Saturday, by telling me, when my credit card wouldn’t swipe through the magnetic reader, that they’ll only manually punch in the cards for people with Hecht’s or Macy’s charge cards.
So after yesterday’s run-in with Hecht’s payment policies, I had an interesting, counter-example to the shopping experience. I found the ‘perfect gift’ at Eastern Market, but the vendor couldn’t take credit cards. I didn’t have cash or checks. So she handed it to me, and told me to mail her a check. It was the last one, and she was worried it would be gone if I came back some other time.
She had less reason to trust me, and more to proportionately lose. But she said I looked ‘nice and honest.’
These are the stories I think of when doing business.

designgeek / April 6, 2006 / Comment on this

“Don’t fuck the vapid, damnit.” A sage piece of advice that everyone should be taught. It came from an ongoing essay by Kevin Smith, director of oh-so-many innappropriatly funny movies and Jersey Girl. The advice is funny, but the essay is actually interesting. His friend, in the movies and in life, Jason Mewes, is well known for his drug problems. But Kevin Smith is in the midst of a so-far 6 part essay on Mewes’ conflict with drugs. The story itself is sad and touching, but the writing is amazing. It’s not easy to write an engaging and interesting account of an addict’s fight with their demons.
I need to start a list of quotes somewhere.
Beware the approaching vent. May only be legible to designers and geeks:
The saying goes, that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This week, I again had it confirmed that this sentiment applies nowhere better than in graphic design. Many is a client who’s tempted to try creating artwork on their own, wether because they’re a control freak, or they believe it will save them money. But it usually just ends up making me money. This week’s client is a semi-regular, who sends me their “finished” artwork to make it print-ready. The process reminds me a great deal of decorating the christmas tree when we were little. After spending hours with my sister and I spreading decorations on the reachable bottom 3 feet of tree, my mother would remove everything and spread it throughout the full length of the tree after we went to sleep. We were happy. My mother was happy. And I keep my clients happy. Remove every photo, convert them to a usable resolution, and change them to a printable color space. Correct, well, … every single bit of punctuation in the document. (Come to think of it, in 14 years of English classes, we never were taught the difference between a hyphen and a m-dash). Really… stop writing your annual report text in an email program or raw text editor. The world is already over-run by inappropriate apostrophes and quotation marks. Change your spot colors to process colors, and vice-versa. Switch to the professional version of your MS fonts. Add a bleed… everywhere. And move the text away from the edges of the page. (If you ever wanna see that vein throb in the forehead of your print rep, try putting a 8pt. rule around the outer edge of your page or bleeding off some 10pt. type from the bottom of the page.) Take the 15 text boxes you used to create your donor list, and convert them to 1 box, (columns, baby, columns), so that I can change the spacing on about 2 lines. Remove the hand indents you inserted in all 250 lines and use 1 simple command to do the same thing. Swap your soft-returns and your hard-returns, (Wow… that sounds awfully suggestive), so that the now-singular list can be formatted with a paragraph style. Remove all the double spaces you put in-between sentences because an English professor who studied in the dark ages once told you that it was proper. Convert your (oh my god I can’t believe you had the patience) dotted lines made of hand-typed periods to a simple filled tab.
On and on and on. I’m not talking artistic quality. I’m just talking process and procedure. The sheer amount of time you can see they had to spend to get the document to look the way it did is amazing. And it’s sad, when if they knew the tools they had, it woud take a quarter of the time and an eighth of the effort. There really is a reason that a single page layout program costs three to four times as much as a copy of Microsoft Word.*
*Okay… admittedly, I’ve yet to meet anyone… anyone… who properly uses all the features of even Word. I figured out a few years back that I had recieved and cleaned up, at that point, approximatly 10,000 Word documents. And in all that time, and all the time since, I have never recieved a Word document that was in perfect condition, ready-to-import. If I ever do, I think I’ll marry that person and have super-babies. Although as I get older, I am more likely to just accept someone who knows how to set a tab-stop.
Okay… no more funny. Serious design bother now:
I’ll say up front that I’m picking on no one in particular. It comes around from many, many people. And I myself have been guilty of it at one point. But I really get the urge to pummel people with a t-square who say that graphic design is the process of making things look pretty. Yes, the word used is always “pretty”.
Graphic Design is as much about making things look pretty as carpentry is about cutting pieces of wood, or computer programming is about using clean coding, or writing is about filling a column. Take me. I’m a semi-sucessful graphic designer. But I’m fairly bad as a fine artist.
From strictly the design portion of the job description, the goal is to convey a message clearly. (Or rarely, to obscure a message). That means taking into account the people doing the receiving. How they’re receiving. Where they’re recieving. What you want them to do after they’re done receiving. You take into account a huge history of visual communications. You account for cultural traits and mores. You’re job is to manipulate peoples impressions.
And if you perform as a more full-service designer, those things are actually a small part of your job. You may also coordinate with people supplying resources and ideas, and people producing tangible materials. You deal with design concerns versus technical capabilities versus political realities. (The Dali Lama always goes on top). You organize multiple jobs at once, and meet everyone’s schedule.
And like any service-industry job, you have to learn to communicate. Not only do you have to keep the right people informed, but you have to know how best to communicate to each and every individual person. Some people thrive on bullet points. Some need detailed answers. Some people want to control every interaction, while others just want to be kept in the loop. Until you’re President of the United States, you can’t get away with saying “this is who I am, you need to learn to communicate my way”.
Do designers make pretty things? Sure. But think back to whatever psychology you’ve studied. Think about what goes into the human concept of “attractive”.

Bits of Things / March 25, 2006 / Comment on this

Never ask me if I’m busy. It’s a stupid question. The only time you can definitively answer it, is if you’re so busy just contemplating the question is making you late. Tell me what you need and then ask me if I have time.
If you’re working in the Washington, DC area, don’t use ionic columns in your logos. The icon has been used to such great extent that it’s become meaningless. There are better ways to represent patriotism, government, or democracy. And if you’re looking to represent this area in particular, DC has a much richer history than just some impersonal architecture.
Was listening to Pandora today. Caught a Johnny Cash song I didn’t recognize: 25 Minutes To Go. A little different, but I like it. Been listening to some of his older stuff since seeing Walk the Line.
Cherry Blossom Festival starts this weekend. Given the nasty weather lately, I wonder how the blossoms are doing.

Old Job and New Book / February 25, 2006 / Comment on this

Tomorrow, what is left of the-company-I-formerly-worked-for will undergo what is likely to be one of it’s last transformations. They’re shedding their office in downtown DC, and the boss and his one remaining employee will work from home. Life was never full of peaches and cream there, but this last year has seen a slow, morbid, circling of the drain, with three employees quitting and another departing for a permanent maternity leave. Previous years had seen people come and go, (over 30 at last count), but this year was all about the go, and not so much the come.
Whether you look at it as failure, or as a drastic scaling back, or just an unwanted change, it’s severe. But in order to fail — in order to go out with a bang — you had to try something in the first place. When you’re bogged down in the day to day drama, that’s the hard part to remember. Someone had an idea, or a desire, and did something about it. And if you fail? Well, you already know what it takes to start again. And this time, you’re that much better educated. People who try and fail will always have my respect. There’s a world of difference between those who plot and plan, and those who try and do.

I just finished reading Denial and Deception: An Insider’s View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11 by Melissa Boyle Mahle. The title, as with most non-fiction, is a bit inflammatory, but the book itself is fairly good. It’s a fairly level-headed telling of the intelligence service culture, from an insider’s point of view. And the book is mainly about the culture. While some major missions and events are discussed, they’re most used to describe their effect on the atmosphere of the intelligence service.
I’d be willing to bet she was the actual author, and possibly editor, of this piece, because any ghost writer would surely be a better wordsmith. The language is dry and text-bookish. But it’s always accessible. While she has generally remains calm and objective, she does have her fair share of axes to grind, (feminism, a nearly pathological hatred of President Clinton. There are numerous grammar and spelling errors in my edition. And she doesn’t seem able to step back and view her insider’s knowledge from an outsider’s perspective.
Overall, the most instructive part for me was the background on so many modern events. She builds logical, if not necessarily agreeable, cases for actions like the invasion of Afghanistan. While the actual actions of Sept 11, 2001 are not discussed in details, the whole book discusses the growth and unexpected nature of Al’Qaeda. And she quickly dismisses Iraq as a complete cock-up on the part of both the intelligence services and the government.

a little bit of work… a little bit of fun / December 20, 2005 / Comment on this

Slowly catching up on work. I’ll still be busy through at least the end of the year. And I’ve had two potentially lucrative referrals in the past week, which won’t kick in until after the holidays. And still a dozen jobs on back burners.
No… I don’t have a personal life. Why do you ask?
I think I will have to institute some news rules, for a couple clients. I still very much want to be available whenever and wherever my clients need me. But some of them seem to take more advantage of that than others. If you call me at 11:30 PM, it better be a major deadline. If the only time you call me, it’s after 7 PM on a weekday or before 9 AM on a weekend, you better be paying me well, on a regular basis. I can deal with the occasional or irregular call or email. Hell… email at 3 AM on Christmas for all I care. I can ignore those. But I think I’m going to have to set thresholds for proper communication, and when a client exceeds those limits within a specific range of time, I’ll stop taking their calls at unreasonable hours. You can leave a message, and I’ll get back to you at the next possible chance. I’m not trying to punish the clients. The major benefit will actually be keeping me from cringing every time my phone rings, and getting snarky with clients who are paying me good money.
And god’s honest truth… if you’re going to hire someone to do work for you, you should really be AT LEAST as prepared as you expect them to be. Really nothing irks me more than to have clients repeatedly come to me, completely unprepared, needing rushed work, with specs that change every couple hours… and come back again, and again, and again,… in the same manor. Do you have any idea how much money and time you could save; how much better the quality of your finished product would be… if you simply planned ahead far enough? I’m not asking anyone to be anally organized. But don’t tell me you need an ad in 3 hours and expect me to write it and design it. Don’t tell me the black and white tri-fold brochure we abandoned weeks ago now will be an 8-page letter-sized booklet in full color going to press tomorrow. And god… if you really can’t help yourself… don’t balk when I charge you less than any other respectable designer would for half as much work. I want to do the best work possible for you. All I ask in exchange is enough to live comfortably. And my standards for comfort are pretty damn low.
Eh.
I had a good weekend. Holiday dinner with friends on Friday night, followed by ice cream cones in 20 degree weather, and the biggest love sac I’ve ever seen. (It may have even given Kier a back injury). It’s nice seeing friends from school. Just wish we got together often enough to be able to talk about things other than college. (We do stray into the occasional geekiness, but…)
Finally found that last Christmas gift on Saturday. After the usual awkward apartment building party that night, I went to Chiaroscuro for their closing night. Talk about a complete blowout. Over 500 people showed up. It took 5 minutes just to find somewhere to sit at one point. But the music was great, and everyone came out. So many people, that I didn’t even get to talk to some of those I knew. Took off at an “early” 2:30 to catch the last train home, though I hear the party went ’til at least 4 AM. I can’t complain about any night that ends with a kiss on the cheek from a beautiful woman, though.
Sunday was incredibly lazy, though. Really… don’t think I can point to a single productive accomplishment, outside of some text edits to a catalog I’m working on. Never touched the painting. I still want to work on it. I’m thinking if I can get enough work done during the next couple of days, I’ll cut out in the evening and paint. Or at the very least, draw.
Am I really an adult?

Business Summary, Year 1 / July 25, 2005 / Comment on this

established June 28, 2004
To be revised and updated many times, no doubt. Last updated

Finances

Startup

Start with the basics: money. The company finances were started with a $576.68 purchase, with personal funds, of an identity package, (letterhead, business cards, and envelopes). This was the first and only outside investment in the company. It was eventually reimbursed, from company funds.

Sum Totals

Using accrual accounting, for the first complete year of business, the company billed $104,369.28. We had expenses of $63.611.05, (including $50,555.11 in printing costs and $6,459 in taxes). This yields a net income of $40,758.23. Of that, $10,500 was withdrawn in Owner Draws.

Investments

There were several one-time, or infrequent, investments in the first year, including licenses, permits, accounting software, and the previously mentioned identity package.

The next year

If things were to remain steady, and I continue to do some of the major jobs that I received last year, then I stand to make more than I did last year. This wouldn’t be too difficult, given that I made very little money for the first 4 or five months last year.
However, I don’t expect things to remain consistent and steady. Even if it were true, it’s a dangerous assumption to make. One of the major problems at Old Company’s design department was its tendency to rest on it’s history.
Clients come and go. Budgets come and go. I need to diversify the client base this year, enough to ensure a consistent flow of business.

Marketing

Last Year

The marketing I attempted to do last year while getting started was a miserable failure. Of the many letters I sent out, and the phone call followups I made, all cold-contacts, not a single job came out of it. I had researched industries and companies that interested me. I searched for organizations with the budget and need for designers. I tried, whenever possible, to find the name of the head of communications or design, and contact them directly.
Nothing.
Which may explain why trying to do the same thing while you’re looking for employment never seems to work.
Primarily through referrals and my existing client base, work finally started picking up, starting in October of last year. Around the new year, I sent out thank you notes to most of my clients. For the top tier clientele, I sent out packages of Christmas cookies. (In my own experience, nothing makes so good a gift/suck-up as food).

Now

Now, I am doing nothing. Up until now my work load has been steady/high. To the point where I either didn’t have time to do any marketing, or was cautious about doing so for fear of being able to handle the extra work it might generate.

The next year

Trusting in what you already have is always dangerous. So the “no marketing” approach is not a good idea.
Existing Clients
Nothing is so valuable to a designer as existing clients. Not only are they feeding your bank account today, but they feed your client list tomorrow. Most new design work and clients are generated by word of mouth. I need to find 2 main things: 1) A way to express to these clients how valuable they are to me and how thankful I am, and 2) A polite way to ask them to refer me to other people and companies whenever they get a chance. Need to explore these two items in much finer detail.
New Clients
I want to find some successful ways to directly market my company to new clients. A lot of people recommend joining one of these networking groups. They meet on a regular basis, and do nothing but stand around and talk to each other about what they need. People tell me they get a lot of work that way. There’s got to be some other successful ways. Maybe I can check with other designers.

Ethics

Choosing Clients

It’s only come up a couple times, but ethics does come into running a business. A large part tends to deal with the clients you’ll accept. I debated with myself recently when the World Bank was looking for new designers. I’m not reactionary enough to believe they’re totally evil. But I don’t agree with much of what they do. They do, however, pay well and offer regular work. I would say a borderline potential client, because up to a point, it’s not for me to say how a client should do business
Likewise, I would be hard pressed to work regularly for clients that were simply selling useless shit. As I normally put it, I’d rather not make my living convincing people to buy soap. I try to avoid blatantly “consumerist” clients. I have no problem with people making money. But that doesn’t mean I have to support a type of lifestyle I myself try to avoid.
Thankfully, much of the potential client pool in this city is non-profits and associates. You can find a good living with clients generally looking out for the common welfare.

Treatment

Outside of choosing clients, there’s also the consideration of how you treat them. How much will you excuse in the name of business? For me, the fine line has always been to be as open as possible with the clients, while keeping things and plain and simple as possible. Clients are always given an estimate before work commences, along with the terms and conditions describing how that estimate is applied or disregarded. Line items on estimates and invoices are grouped together for simplicity. I’ll always break it down upon request. I don’t hide that purchases from vendors are marked up, though I don’t feel it’s the client’s business to know how much. I’m always open to debate about any amount I estimate. I encourage clients to express their questions or concerns to me, rather than stay upset and stop using me.

Clients

One issue that struck me earlier this calendar year was how clients are treated. With one client in particular, I was annoyed at having to work with another person they hired. It wasn’t ego or pride or any such thing. I simply felt they weren’t offering any additional value. And while I certainly wasn’t being insubordinate or pissy, I simply wasn’t being anything. They got exactly what they needed out of me. Not a word more. And eventually I realized that was really stupid. It’s a business transaction, but I was reacting in a personal manner. My job, as I’ve always defined it, is to make things as easy, fun, and successful as possible for my client. If I don’t like the client, get rid of them. But don’t give them any less than I would another client.

Mission

That last paragraph brought up a good point. What is my job? My Mission Statement, if you will, (although I hate pretentious junk such as that). Call it “What do we want to be when we grow up…”.
We create and provide visual presentation materials, be they in print, imprinted, or online. We offer full service, from initial ideas to production and delivery of the finished product. Our service and materials will be as hassle-free and as easy to understand as possible, while maintaining the highest quality of which we’re capable. We’ll be open and direct with our clients, vendors, and coworkers. We want to make things as easy, fun, and successful as possible for everyone.

Goals

  • to look forward to the work I perform
  • to provide the best quality I am capable of
  • to be proud of what I’ve done
  • to support myself in a comfortable lifestyle
  • to have happy and excited clients

Action Points

  1. Generate a budget for office supplies/materials
  2. Find out the names and fees of some local networking groups
  3. Ask people in relevant industries (designers, printers, etc) how they generate new clients
  4. generate and prioritize a list of equipment and supplies that would make work easier
  5. Come up with 3 ways to thank existing clients, and remind them to refer me to their aquaintances
  6. more clearly define the ethical standards for the business
  7. Review estimates for jobs over the past year for appropriateness and decide if any action needs to be taken regarding future quotes
  8. Generate a “client’s rights/what a client can expect” list

Adding ALT tags to images in PDFs / July 7, 2005 / Comment on this

In the category of “stuff it took forever to find, so I’m posting a copy here”:

How to add ALT tags to images in PDFs

You can apply Alt text and ActualText attributes to images to improve the readability of a document being read aloud with screen-reader software for the visually impaired. The Alt text attribute lets you create alternate text that can be read in lieu of viewing a picture. For example, instead of a butterfly image appearing in your PDF file, the text “Butterfly image” appears.
ActualText is similar to Alt text in that it appears in lieu of an image. The ActualText attribute lets you substitute an image that is part of a word, such as when a fancy image is used for a drop cap. In this example, the ActualText attribute allows the drop cap letter to be read as part of the word.
To apply Alt or ActualText attributes to an image:

  1. To make sure the image is tagged as Figure, select the image, and then click Figure in the Tags palette.
  2. Choose View > Show Structure to display Structure view.
  3. Select the Figure image, and then choose New Attribute from the Structure palette menu.
  4. For Name, type either Alt or ActualText (this feature is case-sensitive).
  5. For Value, type the text that will appear instead of the image, and then click OK.

When you export to PDF, the Alt text and Actual Text attribute values are stored in the PDF file and can be viewed in the Element Properties window in Adobe Acrobat 5. This alternate text information can then be used when the PDF file is saved from Acrobat as an HTML or XML file. For more information, see your Adobe Acrobat documentation.

Shitty jobs and hot hookers / June 16, 2005 / Comment on this

I had dinner tonight, in a little “those who survived our old job” gathering., hosted by our former boss. Generally it was okay, for a gathering of people who managed not to kill each other when we saw one another every day. There were just one too many digs, though, that brought back old feelings that weren’t pleasant the first time around, and certainly didn’t age well.
Consciously or subconsciously, I was always left with the feeling that in that office I was ‘tolerated’ and ‘dealt with’ by the people who ran things, rather than as some productive asset. And that they weren’t shy about letting me know that.
There was even a joke tonight about why did they wait six years before firing me. And if it wasn’t for the fore-mentioned years of being made to feel like a drain on the company, I would have surely felt like it was just a joke. But instead, it just left me fuming quietly. Not least of all because saying I was fired was stretching the truth quite a bit. At the time, I was specifically urging them to close down my department. They should give up on the failed side of the business, so that they could focus on what they do best. And I very specifically wanted them to close down my department, instead of me simply leaving, so that I could move on and take the remaining clients with me. Which is what happened in the end. Would I probably have eventually been laid off if I hadn’t made the move then? Sure. But lets remember what actually happened.
And how well the company did while I was there, and what decisions were made back then, were really none of my concern. I can, and have, spoken at length about the problems my old company had. (Read some of my old entries for details). After years of trying to help make improvements, and years of asking for the authority to improve things and be responsible for the results… and every single time being rejected…
Don’t even come to me and try, before I was fired, or at a dinner afterwards, to say that I was somehow responsible for … anything. I wanted more than anything to be responsible.
It’s easy to look back now see how stupid it was to stay in a situation like all that. I even knew it at the time. But regret is the biggest waste of an emotion. I love what I’m doing now. My clients are so much happier than I ever saw at the old company. Economically, I’m doing about 250% better that the old company was by the end. And my skill, technically and artistically, have dramatically improved.
And the hell I went through is one of those things that lets me be happy today. I’m a definite believer in the idea that you are a composite of everything you’ve experienced. I couldn’t have had the wonderful year I just did, without the things I learned at the old place — both the good and the bad.
Plus… you know… I’ve got hookers as neighbors. And when is that not a good thing?

You go your way… / May 30, 2005 / Comment on this

My sister may be suffering from penis envy. Or… wallet envy. Whatever. The basic idea is that I have something at the moment, that she doesn’t. And in a manner that could seem random and unfair.
I’ve been in business for a little under a year now. (I’m about 2 weeks shy of the full term). And while it was a rough start, today I am doing okay. I can’t foresee tomorrow, but I take my concerns one day at a time*. And… you know. Starting a business is an incredibly risky and stupid thing. Even more stupid is my insistence on sticking to my work as a business rather than to myself as a freelancer. (As a freelancer, I could pick up a lot of work by going into other people’s offices and working on short-term projects for them.)
Meanwhile back home in New York State
My sister and husband bought a house, which even in a small town, ain’t cheap. Shortly afterwards, her husband was fired for questionable reasons. Spent probably six months on unemployment. He’s found a job, but a job that pays considerably less than the previous one. In the mean time, they had an accident that wiped out their only vehicle. They’ve since replaced it with two more. And these are people who say they never had much money before.
I’m aware enough of my roots to easily see how it could seem unfair of life to to treat each of us these ways. Shouldn’t dedication and hard work be more greatly rewarded than risk and dissatisfaction? I see how I could have those same feelings, had small things in my life gone differently. I just think they’re crap, though.
First of all… relatives or strangers… we all live our own lives. Like an explosion set off at birth, we all take off in our own directions, right from the start. To wonder why you don’t have Donald Trump’s life misses the point. You have you own life to make do with what you will. Outside of a bad Disney movie, you’re never going to trade places with someone else. You’ll always be you. Stop giving a fuck about what the other person did, and do something with yourself.
Being brother and sister, raised in the same household, we did share as much in common as any two people could. Nothing outside of chance and genetic mutation favored me any more than her. You have no right to be pissy just because I temporarily have some success that you don’t. Not when we were both given the same building blocks. Not when you have successes in your own life that I only wish I could achieve.
And what if you aren’t pissy, and you just think I am full of myself? Well.. I probably am. You gotta be a little conceited to try some of the things I have. But honest-to-God… what’s the point of being family if we can’t be there for each-other. And right now, I’m probably more needy than my sister. I have great victories, wonderful successes, and brilliant ideas. But who can I share them with, without coming across as a braggart. And for every joy I wish I could share with someone, I promise you I have a dozen fears, misgivings, and doubts. I spend more time now doing things that I have no idea how-to than I ever have in my life. So, yeah, many of the things in my life, good or bad, I want to talk with someone about. And if not family, then who? I’m lucky enough to have a couple friends with whom I can share some of it. But family are really the people who should offer you their shoulder regardless of what has transpired between you. (The battles and resulting cold war between my sister and father are epic. But even so, I can tell they would both drop their harsh feelings instantly if one of them could muster the strength to be the bigger person. But you want to talk about a pig-headed family? I have aunts still arguing over who took care of who 35 years ago.)
And if you think I am conceited about whatever commercial success my business might have, then you have no idea how I’m gauging success. The money has always been just a means to an end; not an end unto itself. Even running a successful business is just another means. A-#1, right there at the top of my “why I’m happy” list, is the amount of self-determination I now have. I no longer cede 40% of my life to someone else to dictate how it should be spent. I no longer leach money from someone else’s cycle, but instead generate it on my own; like enjoying the fruits of planting a vegetable garden. Nobody has the power anymore, to use the phrase “or else”, with me. I am also now able to live my life completely by my own ethics. And as far as getting something good out of all of this, when a client comes to me and says how happy they are with the results of our projects, it’s all about me. “Look… I did that. I made someone else happy!”.
Certainly all that freedom and choice comes at a cost. I work incredibly hard and suffer from the previously-mentioned, self-induced stress. I take great chances with my own standard of living. And while I’ve been incredibly fortunate so far, not every project will end with good results. Even with the best of intentions and all due effort to succeed, fate will occasionally slam you face-first into a brick wall. If I stay on this course, I’m bound to have clients someday that go completely blinking nuts and try to reek havoc in my life and business. And as my careful wording of all this rambling probably betrays, I’m careful never to forget that all my business could simply disappear tomorrow. I will have finished everything I was working on, and simply not be able to find more work. It’s a thought I’ve gone to bed with on more than one night.
So yeah… we’ve led completely different lives. I genuinely hope my sister is as happy and satisfied with her choices as I am. I may find myself working at McDonald’s a month from now, and she could win the lottery. But as long as we can talk openly about why we are where and what we are… well… that’s family.
*I blame my parent’s for never-ending exposure to that slogan.

Printers / May 18, 2005 / Comment on this

I think salespeople are the last humans on earth who still email people Word files as a default method of communication. As if putting the text in the body of the email, so that I didn’t have to launch a huge, slow, ugly, expensive program just to read it, would make it any less official. Yes… they’re often contracts with a line for a signature at the bottom. But I haven’t signed one of those in years. A verbal okay or written confirmation has become standard. And you know… I really don’t care about your logo so much that needing to see it outweighs my desire to have instant access to the information I requested.
And for God’s sake… if you absolutely must email me a document, make it a PDF! They’re cross-platform, light-weight, and easy to use. Never has a PDF crashed my computer or infected my machine with viruses.
Why do salespeople suck so much at the little things?

a bad day / March 9, 2005 / Comment on this

If you’re gonna post a gallery of images on consecutive pages of a website, make sure I can get to the next damn image by clicking on the current one. I so do not want to waste time looking for whatever form of navigation you came up with.
This was not a good day.
I should simply refuse to participate in any appointment or event which requires me to utilize an alarm clock to wake myself. The only time I ever enjoy waking up early is when I’m going to the airport. Late night or early morning airports have a kind of haze about them. The muzak has been shut off. The cleaning crew is more prominent than the guys with the guns. You feel like you’re floating down the hall. People act like people, and not like employees, and the tension is all let out of the place like an unknotted balloon.
But anyway…
I had to get up early. I had conned persuaded Drew into driving me around so I could take pictures for one of Jon‘s projects.
[Note to self: download the damn pictures before you lose them]
So up early, I was. Very early, if you ask me. I had to have time to do laundry before Drew arrived, since all my pants smelled of cigarette smoke from the clubs this past weekend.
[Note to self: heater always dries clothes faster than dryer]
My shower was prematurely interrupted by a client calling to panic. And while I shared her concerns, and was myself worrying, there is very little I can do, since the people hired to handle this portion of the project are still within their standard time-frame. However, there is no good way to point this out to a client without coming across as though you had said “Fuck you! I did my part, so give me money and bugger off!”.
So it’s a difficult situation to begin with, that I can in no way remedy. But these projects said client has been giving me are my favorites (and best) among my recent work. So I must find some way not to lose same said client for something I no longer have control over. Like I needed another reason to be paranoid about my business.
Shower completed, and other minor disturbances in the force quelled, Drew arrived an hour late as per usual. However, all that quelling had caused delays on my end, as well.
Throw bag together, put on shoes, grab keys, grab coat, put on pants, lock door, take elevator down, take elevator up, grab glasses, take elevator down, and meet Drew.
I had checked the weekly weather report at the beginning of the week. “Shit. Shit. Cold Shit. Shit. Wet Shit. So I chose the least shitty day–today–and decided I would take pictures then–er–now. But damn if it isn’t cold. And not just nipple-stiffening cold, but windy as hell, as well. But since I’m going out to take pictures, I’m wearing only a thermal shirt and a light windbreaker, (’cause trying to work with a bag and a camera and lenses while wearing a padded suede jacket is just ridiculous).
So I was forced to use the most inhumane of human inventions: the alarm clock. I have a nearly irate client whose work I adore that I will not be able to satisfy. I’m left in no mood to shoot guns, much less photos. And the weather is so frigid I can’t even press the shutter properly because my finger has stiffened up.
But thankfully a nice man at the yacht club pointed out that I shouldn’t be shooting photos in a national park without a permit.
This was a bad day. I am so sleeping-in tomorrow morning.

Work / February 14, 2005 / Comment on this

I’m trying to find a way to tell the people I love–friends and family–that they really aren’t helping me. I’ve re-written this entry three times so far, starting from scratch with each attempt.
So I work for myself now. I’ve been at it for about two-thirds of a year, and things aren’t so bad. I have a little money in the bank. (Hopefully there will still be some left after I file taxes). I have a few new toys. I go out with my friends and have fun. I eat a little too much. At this exact point, I have taken everything good from my life before, and thrown out everything that was bad.
It doesn’t come without it’s share of hard work and mental anguish. I have several friends who tell me they have their own businesses. For most of them though, it means doing freelance projects in their off hours. I, myself, did exactly that for a long time. But even discounting the legal and regulatory differences, it’s really not the same. It’s kind of like going on a blind date versus getting married. The difference in dedication and responsibility is amazing. It’s impossible to even imagine before you go ahead and do it.
In the movies, this would be where I tell you how all my friends and family were wonderful; rallying around me. If only. In reality, the almost universal response* has been to question my decision, and openly wonder how long I could last. The short response, from me, to this is: I don’t need it. My own inner demons provide plenty of doubt and worry. I don’t need to hear you inquiring as to the likelihood of my failure as casually as you would critique my clothes.
Express ‘interest’. Ask me how things are going. None of you has enough details to criticize the actual business, and therefor to have any reason for worry. And even if you did… when has friendship and family been about anything other than unconditional support. If you really felt the need to intervene, there are intelligent, meaningful ways to do it. But in the meantime, if you glibly ponder wether I’m enjoying myself while it lasts, I may just tell you to go fuck yourself.
* I say “almost everyone” because, as always, one of my friends stands out different. They know who they are, and they’ve never been anything but what I need. While writing this, I also remembered one relative who also stood out; offering to help me whatever way they could.

I won’t deny that I like money. When a client sent me a payment for $10,000 a while back, I Xeroxed that fucker before depositing it. But I definitely think there’s got to be something more driving you, if you’re going to stick with anything like your own company. And nothing makes me feel better than making my clients happy. Not just satisfied… but happy. How often do you hear “God damn, you’re doing a good job!”? At my last job, it was just about never. In a good year, I might hear a single, rather Prozac-ian “We’re glad you’re here.” But since starting my own business, I’ve had a hell of a lot of messages from exuberant clients:
“that fucking rocks!” –J.G.
“I LOVE the second version! Let’s go with that one!” –A.P.
“Got the files and they look great” –R.C
“excellent!” –D.F.
“My husband loves the invitation.” –D.M.
“Got the banner yesterday…Looks great!!!” –R.C.
“Thanks….This looks great.” –J.B.
“Thanks….it looks beautiful. Great work! I’m amazed at all the links you found!” –S.M.
“That looks GREAT!” –R.C.
… and so on.

Fix your life: Quit your job / December 30, 2004 / Comment on this

“At 28, John Doyle was an overworked New York investment banker on the fast track. By most measures, he was a success. But he was also miserable. So during a semiannual review 2 1/2 years into the job, he simply quit. ‘Almost immediately I lost 35 pounds,’ says Doyle. For four months, he did little more than relax, rollerblade through Central Park, and read books. ‘Honestly, it was one of the happiest times in my life,’ he says.”

Ways to fix your life: Quit your job

Cash Money / December 14, 2004 / Comment on this

I had another thought today.
*insert your own joke her*
It’s actually another thesis project, to go along with my previous possibilities. I was in Border’s reading the back cover blurb of the Illuminatus Trilogy. It promises to confront various issues, including the pyramid that shows up on the dollar bill.
Well… ignoring the conspiratorial overtones of that particular novel, it made me think about the appearance of money. Being a designer, and a lonely, lonely person, I spend most of my time thinking about the appearance of things. Initially I thought that it could be interesting to redo the paper cash of the US. Clean it up. Make it more in line with modern culture, rather than a collection of antiquated symbolism and archaic security features. Who doesn’t see the anachronism of paying for your re-writable compact discs with a piece of flaccid paper covered in imagery that hasn’t been contemporary since before FedEx was powered by the Pony Express?
But just as quickly as that thought came to me, I realized it wouldn’t work. It would be a pointless exercise, doomed to a miserable failure in even the most basic of focus groups or peer review. Cash–cold, harsh greenbacks–are one of those rare physical items that people consciously trust in the image of more than in the physical nature. It’s a comfort item… a security blanket. In a vain culture, this ugly, little, wrinkled thing inspires cult-like devotion.
So yeah… to cut the thought short, that was my thesis. To find out how and why people value the physical object that is a dollar bill. Why are people thrown into near revolt when a pale wash of color is added to the $20 bill. Why does a bigger picture of the president cause people to declare it to be play money?
Anyway… I call it a thesis project because I specifically don’t want to get into it here.

Money, money, money / December 14, 2004 / Comment on this

Oh yeah…
I decided to get a copy of Quickbooks.
While I am known among former coworkers as more than a bit obsessed and dare-I-say talented at being organized, it doesn’t seem to be helping much with billing.
Up until now, I have been using Quark to write up estimates and invoices manually. And the bank account is kept track of in Quicken.
But Quicken isn’t built to handle business. It cannot generate invoices. It cannot keep a database of clients. It cannot tell you which invoices haven’t been paid yet. It cannot handle tax issues for you. Quicken is essentially a notebook with a really good calculator.
But Quickbooks actually handles the business aspect and the account maintenance.
And right now, Amazon has an amazing deal on it… ends up being half price.

Handshakes? / December 14, 2004 / Comment on this

Have you ever had someone stick their hand out in such a way that you weren’t sure wether they expected a handshake or a high-5, (well… low-5 actually)? It’s all the more difficult to tell when it’s over the shoulder. And coming from a person who would seem comfortable with either.
And I didn’t really think of any of these things until afterwards.
So, yes, I am a paranoid freak, why do you ask?
In some businesses and positions, it would be easy to say that you should always default to the handshake, as the least likely to be offensive. But… you know… not really. Because building up a casual relationship with your clients is incredibly important.

Don’t Itemize / July 21, 2004 / Comment on this

Rule #32689 – Do not itemize expenses for clients.
The exception, of course, is when a client demands it. But maybe twice in 10 years have I ever had clients ask for it.
You will have the urge to itemize. It seems like, if you itemize, you are able to justify the amount of money you are charging. But any time you are justifying anything, except that lipstick on your collar, it’s probably a terrible idea.
Itemizing is time-consuming and will cause trouble. Clients will start second guessing you and trying to “optimize” their bill by cutting what they feel are unnecessary expenses. (Of course, you shouldn’t be quoting unnecessary expenses anyway). One of my clients cut back on the proofing they did to save on the 50 cents per laser print or $5 a PDF. I made the mistake of rattling off a list of expenses to a client that they may not have considered. While I can understand logically why they were hurt at the thought that talking to them was a drain on my resources (read: time), I was surprised when they literally threw a fit.
And as a designer, I cannot survive by strictly billing hourly or per item. The value always has to come in somewhere. If your client doesn’t have the opportunity to nitpick a bill, it instills a much greater sense of value, as opposed to product.
So simply said… don’t do it!
The flip side, of course, is that clients actually seem to prefer the simpler, unitemized bill. They’re coming to me because they either can’t or don’t want to do the work. By spelling out every step you take, most clients feel overburdened. It much more impressive sounding as well, to give them a single number, and say “it includes EVERYTHING!”. And when it comes time to bill, its cut and dry — there’s just a single number that both sides already agreed upon.
Yeah… don’t itemize.

Initial Brainstorming for new stuff / July 7, 2004 / Comment on this

Newsletters are an “easy” way to make money. You charge a set price per page, and hopefully get a cut of the printing. So if you do a 12 page newsletter for $60/page, you’ve already made $720. And a newsletter that size doesn’t likely take more than 2 business days. Do five or six of those a month and you could live comfortably. And keep in mind many newsletters are longer, and cost more per page. They’re easy to do, because after he first couple issues, pretty much all the design work is done, and you are just dropping the contents into templates.
So I wouldn’t mind getting some newsletter jobs up front.
Today’s thoughts on non-profits:

  • Register with vendor bank, (yeah… i know i did it already, but I was listing everything that came to mind)
  • Find associations and organizations with missions the same as or similar to existing clients, (read: religion and AIDS)
  • Find listings of local non-profits
  • Find upcoming events and marches on the Mall. Then figure out what organizations would likely attend and approach them with help for promotional items. (Pins, flyers, signs, banners, t-shirts)
  • Find ethnic organizations. Embassies?
  • Look into government newsletters/newspapers
  • Look into Methodist organizations
  • Don’t bug these people when they’re actually promoting themselves… ie. festival booths and such

Some existing contact thingys:

  • contact RB at N about finally doing the damn website
  • Check Old Company’s client list. public info is public info.
  • Ask R at TA where he gets ideas for new clients
  • Find out what happened with that hotel that was re-doing their identity
  • Ask landlord if they’re interested in doing a seasonal newsletter. Maybe work in trade for partial rent.
  • i really dont want to… but consider that direct mail campaign company
  • check on the A newspaper and see if they ever found a permanent designer
  • doubtful, but ask BP about doing their newsletter in trade.

And some miscellaneous new client stuff:

  • get in touch with L’s contact
  • contact publication and communications offices at universities — RIT, GWU, AU, Georgetown
  • Work on script for phone solicitations
  • Put up large blank sheet of paper on wall where I can write ideas for new clients
  • Research local music labels
  • Expand the list of printers who know I’m on my own. I may need their help, an occasional notepad or free lunch never hurts, and they may be able to offer jobs
  • research communications offices at Unions — AFL-CIO, Teamsters, etc).

Gimme the damn contact’s name / July 6, 2004 / Comment on this

D annoys me. Well, the whole company really, cause it takes on a life of it’s own.
So I ask J, if she can give me the names of some contacts at the ad agencies she works with. Since, of course, you know, Old Company won’t be marketing design services to them.
But J says no, because Old Company is still accepting design jobs.
First off, are they accepting them or will they be accepting them. Cause if they ARE accepting them, then where is the work going? D and JG are both constantly busy and neither are exactly stellar designers. So are they continuing to do it themselves, in a manner which will yield the same results… namely, the client never coming back for a second job. Are they hiring an outside designer who is not me? If so… why?
But I think it is more of a matter of they WILL accept design jobs. Which I find frankly MORE offensive. The idea of hoarding something that you are not using, just cause it is of some potential value to you, even if you don’t plan to exploit it. (Trust me… after seven years of watching these salespeople–they don’t plan to exploit it). Whereas it would be a highly valuable resource to me that I would actively exploit to the fullest degree.
When I left there, they literally gave me everything I asked for. Books, clients… anything. I turned down some stuff cause I knew they would need it.
The question is… do I go on my own to these ad agencies and try to get in. Or do I offer Old Company a commission, just for the name of a contact? I think I will wait till my strategy session tomorrow, when I think more in depth about this.

Thinking up new marketing things. / July 6, 2004 / Comment on this

I cannot avoid it any longer. Today, despite adding another four line items, I finished up the marketing list for the “old things”, meaning anything I already had experience with. All the old clients. Old printers. Former co-workers. Family. Friends. Contacts. Getting collateral and a website.
I also submitted my name to a vendor bank for a association of associations in this area. It wasn’t incredibly full or vendors… so if it is at all popular, I stand a better chance. I think this is the list that my old boss referred to. He didn’t know how we ended up on there, but we kept getting jobs from there.
Now I need to start marketing to new people and things. New ways. I really need to sit down and just spend some time thinking about how to market, who to market, and all that shit. If I just keep running and doing work, and interacting… I come up with the same ideas as everyone else. But when I put a little brain sweat into it… I come up with some good shit.

Kern, Damnit, Kern! / July 1, 2004 / Comment on this


There’s design ignorance and then there’s outright contempt for design. Someone in the juror’s office no doubt felt that it would be improper to go so far as even make their badges legible, ’cause it would appear as they were concerned with something other than justice. Cause frankly, this top part of the badge is the least screwed-up portion of the Jury Summons in DC.
I’m seriously considering redoing the Jury Summons in my own time, just to see what I can do.

new phone / June 28, 2004 / Comment on this

Yay! Replacement phone arrived.
*grumble$75*grumble*fuckingtaxidriver*grumble*shovethatoldphonesomewherewarm*grumble*

Names Flashback / June 24, 2004 / Comment on this

List from when I was trying to come up with names:
chupa design – we suck and we know it
69Design – putting you in the right position
inbred design – we’ll treat you like family
Optical Industries
The Furnace
Papercut
State Design
Ligature
Exchange Street Design
DesignBitch.com
MediaHussy
Design Tease
Tease
TypeSlut
Pineapple Design
The Design factory
Washington Design Factory
Design Sweatshop
Hero Design Group
emanon
akima
clear
spot color
inspire(d)

Marketing List – As Is / June 24, 2004 / Comment on this

DONE – Send thanks to D
DONE – promote the company to family and friends
DONE – send letter to existing clients
– mention referrals appreciated
send letter to old clients
follow up with emails
DONE – ask d
ask j for referrals
contact School
DONE – contact fax-guy
contact web-guy
DONE – contact j g
contact P
contact M
contact J
contact D
contact E

Back in action / June 24, 2004 / Comment on this

Yes, I’m still alive.
My last few days at Old Company were busy, finishing projects, starting some last minute ones, cleaning out my office, and teaching people to do what I do. I did more in that last week than I had for the previous 3 months.
I finished work at 6:30 PM on a thursday, and flew out of DC at 4:30 AM on Friday. Family thing in Texas. I actually took a job with me, because it couldn’t wait.
Got back from that on Tuesday evening. Spent Wednesday stocking up and setting up. Picked up most of my identity package from the printer. They do good work, but you have to keep an eye one them. They didn’t do enough business cards, and the envelopes weren’t ready. Spent the evening setting up mysa daaaeaaaskfg gggggggggaggnggdg 78wo8r8k888s88p8a888c8e8888888
888888888880
Sorry about that… danger of working in a home with a cat who thinks the keyboard is her bed.
… desk and workspace.
Served Jury duty and Thursday and Monday. In between, I started up a marketing list, with all my ideas of what and how to market. I check things off and add them as necessary.
Turns out the people i my court case settled. Tuesday I did a bit more marketing. The last 2 days I’ve had some work to do, and marketing as possible.
Marketing List and stuff to come…

Zoning / June 4, 2004 / Comment on this

I spent the morning at the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs, over on N. Capital Street. Interesting system they have there. “Have a seat, and we’ll talk amongst ourselves and see if we can figure out what you want”. If half the people coming in there weren’t regulars, they would have been in trouble.
Only after waiting for an hour and finally getting my application looked at did they tell me I basically needed a permission slip from the owner of my building. Why on earth does the main application ask you if your landlord approves and what is their contact info, if they are just going to make you fill out a whole separate form on the subject.
So… four cab rides later, all I know is that I should call back in 3 to 5 business days to see if they approved my application.
Go on… ask me if I give a shit wether they turn me down.
I haven’t been in that area before. The area between N. Capitol and 10th, and F and L. It’s pretty run down in some parts… but oh do I want to go over there with a camera. The place has some amazing character. North Capitol Street alone has an amazing view towards the Capitol.
I inquired about an old thermal fax machine that has been floating around work for years, and “D” gave it to me. Not bad. Not a great machine… but it works. And until it runs through the 8 rolls of paper, it’s all good.

The transitional letter / June 4, 2004 / Comment on this

As sent out on Wednesday:
This letter is to inform you that as of June 11, 2004, “Old Company” will no longer be actively marketing graphic design services. While we are always happy to help you with any of your marketing and promotional needs, we have chosen to focus on the promotional product aspect of our business. We feel this will allow us to use our resources to their best potential.
However, as of the 14th of June, “P” will be independently providing the same graphic design services that “Old Company” has been offering. “P” has worked as a graphic designer at “Old Company” for more than six years, and been involved in most of your projects. He will continue to work from the downtown Washington, DC area.
We hope that if you choose to continue working with “P” for your design needs, this will provide as seamless a transition as possible. “Old Company” will continue to be available to work with you on all of your promotional product projects.
Should you have any questions about this change, feel free to contact “D” at XXX or “P” at XXX. We both look forward to working with you in the future.
Sincerely,
*sig* *sig*
“D” “P”

Zoning, and Taxes, and Printing, Oh My! / June 3, 2004 / Comment on this

Two days ago I wrote up the letter to send out to Old Company clients who I want to take with me. I was amazed at how eloquent and professional it sounded. I’ll put up a copy here as soon as I remember to grab it from work. D approved it with no changes. So yesterday I printed up copies, had us both sign them, and sent them out. Guess I’m screwed now.
Cell phone is still a thing of beauty, though no one has actually called me yet. I’m sure that the honeymoon will end soon ’nuff.
My official last day is next Thursday.
Going to the DC zoning office tomorrow. I may or may not need a permit to work from my apartment. No one on the phone really knows. “Betty” told me to just come in prepared to apply for a permit, and someone will probably kick me out if I don’t need one. They open at 8:30 AM, and I will do my damndest to be there by 8:35.
After that, the only legalities have to do with registering with tax agencies. Waiting for advice from my advisor/friends-mom. If I don’t hear from here by tomorrow, I’m going to switch to someone else. There’s still Gretchen’s husband.
I was hoping all these clients would hold off on their regular jobs until after next week, so I could have some initial work. But one of them came in today. I sat there at my desk, saying ‘fuck’ over and again. It was the cheapest of the regular jobs though. And I know this particular client has more work coming up for conferences.
D stuck a joke in my mailbox today. A fax we received from someone trying to sell us something. Obviously a freelancer. It was full of misspellings and bad language. It didn’t look bad… It didn’t look like anything at all. The cover letter was just a blank sheet with some typing on it. The other sheets were obviously done in PowerPoint or some clipart program. D’s idea was that I would offer to help them out, since it was an easy sale to point out what they could improve. I think I may actually do it though. As soon as I get my letterhead package back from the printer, I have one or two companies I know with horrendous designs that I may just drop a letter to.
Did I mention that my letterhead was out to the printer? I came up with a design on Monday, and dropped it off on Tuesday. Costing me about $500 for the package. I got a thousand of everything. The printers are nice guys… been working with them for years. Said they would see if they could lower it anymore.
I think my cat is gonna get sick of me being home all the time.

The Phone Arrives & Where Do I Get Clients / May 29, 2004 / Comment on this

My cellphone arrived yesterday. A Motorola v300. It’s beautifully put together. Feels much more substantial than the older model I played with at the T-Mobile store. It charged up fairly easy. Came with the typically impossible to digest instruction book, which was promptly forgotten about. Activation simply involved inserting the SIM card, turning it on, and waiting 30 seconds. I’ve had excellent reception everywhere so far, except the subway. (Which is to be expected… Verizon has a monopoly on cell access in the subway, and doesn’t like to share).
I need to write the letter D wanted to send to the clients concerning the transfer of authority/jobs. With about a week and a half left, I can’t afford to wait for him to write it. He’ll no doubt want to edit it. If he fucks it up too much and refuses to reason, I’ll just write a letter on my own.
Need to work on a logo this weekend too. Which kind of means deciding on a name. I think The Design Works is ruled out. It got the least response of the people i polled. And its pretty blatantly marketing-ish, or at the least cheesy. You could replace “design” with “coffee”, and have as interesting a name. Meanwhile, people seem to love or hate The Design Foundry. Several people, presumably those who hate the Foundry name, say they like Hero, but none of them are willing or able to tell me why.
J #1 tells me he may have some shit work for me. Shit work is better than no work. And J is a nice, successful guy. Printers L and H have offered to hook me up with jobs as well. (Which is funny since they never hooked up the company I was working for, where I met them). L already gave me one name. I’d bet printers R and C have some work as well. I have one or two personal freelance contacts as well, who I will let know I am available full-time. And I am hoping J #2 will be able to provide me some contacts in an ad agency or two. And all that is without an cold sales work.

Cell Phones and Licenses / May 27, 2004 / Comment on this

So I ordered a cell phone on Amazon yesterday. The one thing I’ve heard from every schoolteacher and small businessman was that you need a cellphone. Your clients need to be able to reach you at unreasonable times.
I checked out… what is it… the big six? Verizon, Cingular, Sprint, Nextel, AT&T. and despite the fact I pass their office every day, I forgot about T-Mobile till the last minute when I was reminded by an office-mate. Good thing too… They have the best rates of the bunch. Nicest phones. Most realistic plans (though without rollover yet). And the office-mate says the reception and customer service is good. (Advice which I take, over the protestations of all those Verizon customers who, you know, never actually used T-Mobile.)
It should be here tomorrow.
New Toy!!!
And I talked with an accountant… sorta. Sara hooked me up with her mother. Gretchen also offered me her husband. But I know Joycey, (said Mother), better. I’ve given her a list of what I need to do to legally start the business in DC, and pointed out specific places where I need advice.
Advice for those calling the DC Basic Business Licensing office? Once you get through to the automated voice system that never actually tells you how to connect to anything, and just keeps sending you to the website, (the website which sends you to the phone system)…
Just press 3.
They won’t tell you to press three. The only buttons they tell you to press take you back to the beginning of the same message. But button 3 was the first one that worked for me when I started hitting random numbers. The person that answered it said something about Corporations… but he still was pretty nice and helped he anyway.
And for the record, you do not need a business license to run a design studio within the District of Columbia.
You apparent do need one to run the following though:
Au Pair Suite
Ballet
Barber Chair (As opposed to Barber Shop)
Bird Control
Block party
Business Street Photographer
Churches (!!!)
Circus
Dealers in Dangerous Weapons (I just love the name)
Dumbwaiters (Hand Driven)
Dumbwaiters (Power Driven)
Elevator (Hand Driven)
English Basement
Escalator
Gumball Machine
Horse and Buggy (As opposed to Horse Drawn Carriage)
Marathons
Mom and Pop Store
Parades
Sidewalk Elevators (Power Driven)
Street Photographer

A name and a base / May 24, 2004 / Comment on this

I’ve come up with at least 3 names I would be willing to use:
(The) Design Foundry
The Design Works
Hero Design Group
Explanations follow, (if you’re interested).
Design Foundry was originally Design Factory or Washington Design Factory. Someone mentioned that Washington Design Factory reminded them of Burlington Coat Factory. And Design Factory is awful close to the well known Logo Factory. So Factory became Foundry, which was great, because it even better expressed the gritty-hard-work feeling I wanted, and which is in my background. (I grew up 2 blocks from a ball-bearing foundry). Plus…. it sounds really cool to me.
The Design Works sorta just popped into my head, but it has all kinds of good connotations. It’s also got the factory idea, as well as the idea that everything about design is offered… “The Works”. And, slightly marketing-ish… it can be read as the sentence “Design works.”.
Hero Design Group was my ode to indirect names, (a la Starbucks). The ‘design group’ is a somewhat common name extension in this field, blatantly lifted from Serif Design Group and others, to make yourself sound a bit bigger. Hero is a good, short, powerful word. All positive connotations. Goes well with some of my interests. And I think it has a lot of marketing possibilities, (a la “We want to be your hero”)
Meanwhile… I have finally talked to my boss about my plans. It went over remarkably well, considering the audience. And it was kind of important, as most everything else hinged on the outcome.
The announcement that I was going into business for myself was greeted with quiet, and presumably suppressed doubt. Maybe he was sincerely gracious… he certainly never suppressed anything I thought inappropriate before. How like me.
There was also an offer of advice.
He easily agreed to letting me take two repeating projects I have been doing for years. And while I didn’t ‘ask’ to take other clients, we did talk about it. I had no intention of asking, but it cannot hurt to make it known. Likewise, when he asked for a list of clients I wished to take with me, I see no reason not to oblige. If it’s less stressful to give them to me, then why not.
It’s very difficult in there, sometimes. There are times where he bounces around with a child’s joy and energy. There are times where you can see him trying every way he knows how to fight off everything closing in around him. And there are times when he seems too worn out — too tired — to even raise his eyelids. It’s very hard to see someone’s dream — someone’s very nature — to be wearing down on them so harshly, after so long.

my kingdom for a name / May 22, 2004 / Comment on this

What the hell do I call my company?
It’s a stupid little thing that I absolutely hate obsessing over. It’s such a ridiculous detail. But I need to get business cards printed. I need to put up a website and get email working.
I do want something I won’t mind seeing and saying a million times in the future. It has to lend itself to an easily understandable domain name when spoken. I should be interesting but not obscure. And it wouldn’t hurt if it was meaningful about about a new stage/change. Maybe something meaningless, but interesting?
I’ve never liked the idea of naming your company after yourself. Too many people assume you work by yourself. And most people I know who use their name have a hard time separating their business from themselves.
Among the “this is a new stage/thing in my life” ideas, I’ve only really had two half decent ones: Breakaway Design and Dream Designs.
I considered Emanon as a cop-out, but rather quickly discarded it. (Emanon = NoName).
Having loved William Gibson’s last book, Pattern Recognition, I half considered using Blue Ant. It falls well on the meaningless category. I do think you need to be careful with the meaningless, though.
I’m trying to think of anything from any book I loved. Not a whole lot of usable names, though, for a respectable business. Especially as most of my reading lately has been cyberpunk. Would you do business with Chiba Design or DatAmerica? I don’t think so.
I have a friend who used Serif Design. Some little professional word is interesting. But outside of serif… what is there? Pica Design? T-square communications? Maybe Ligature?
(I actually kind of like that last one)

motivational speakers / May 22, 2004 / Comment on this

Not to mention, that every successful businessperson I’ve ever heard speak suggests, that once you’ve found your passion, You write down your goals and how you plan to achieve them.
You don’t have to like Trump as a person to see that he knows business. Something my last boss never quite grasped.
Though y personal taste in bazillionaires runs more towards Richard Branson of Virgin.

The end. / May 22, 2004 / Comment on this

I’m seriously into starting my own business. I am in a kind-of-forced-self-instigated-leaving-of-my-job thing. I’ve got about 3 weeks left before I HAVE to go. (Which conveniently coincides with both an annual trip and my upcoming jury duty.) After that… nothing.
I started out looking for a job. Duh. Applied for some truly cool openings. But besides never hearing from anyone, I know my heart was never fully in it either. I’ve been six and a half years at a job that was more social challenge than professional career building. (I’ll take up the issue of “careers” later.) I can’t see myself immediately dropping into another company where it’s someone else’s vision.
I’ve been quietly egged on for a couple years now by a local photographer to start my own business. I always dismissed the notion, because I have no experience selling myself, (insert joke here). But when he mentioned it again about 2 weeks ago, for the first time since I found out my old job was coming to an end, the idea took hold. In just a day or two, I was seriously considering the idea. In less than a week, I was seeking out advice from a friend who runs their own design business. I have since asked for feedback from many of my closest friends and relatives.
The advice has been cautious, but encouraging. The idea feels right. The work, while challenging, is in no way a stretch. I have proven I have every skill necessary, except for the selling. And even in that area, I’ve had limited success when allowed, at my current job.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research online. Online research is the modern equivalent of running for the encyclopedia. Unlike the anonymous blurb you get from an encyclopedia, though, the web is still a little bit of the wild, wild west. You got people selling, and people searching for gold, and people out to take advantage of the unprepared, just like the old west. But the beauty is in the anarchy.
“I’ve got my opinion and the biggest microphone mankind has ever invented, so let me tell you something.”
The most useful stuff here inevitably comes from the little person stealing time in their cubicle, who was upset that there was no officially sanctioned solution, and solved it for themself. Through ego, or altruism, they put their newborn idea out there and see if it sticks.
Many people now use the web to document their projects, their work, or their research. I’ve even found answers to my own problems within my website, most recently when I couldn’t remember when I last served on jury duty.
Many companies are also starting to have … slice of life … weblogs. More often than not, they tend to be more about justifying their business decisions. (Never justify, or you’ll make an ASS out of U and ME.)
All this in mind, along with my unnatural obsession for openness and sharing, a thought popped into my head the other day. There’s not much else up there, so you know, it kind of stood out.
So the idea was, to document this all. Not the corporate, ‘look at us, we know what a blog is’ thing. It’s doubtful I will ever even link this journal to the company in any solid way. Call it a what to do/not-to-do manual. Call it a place to sort through everything. Call it whatever you want.
But this is my dream.

Ack! Must Look Away! Bad Job, Bad! / March 18, 2004 / Comment on this

Found on Monster:
You will be responsible for serving as a competent, effective member of client delivery/assignment teams. You will focus on completing client work in accordance with established plans and quality standards. Concurrently, you will focus on building your competencies in the areas of basic consulting, assignment performance, functional skills and in embracing and practicing the core values of the institution. You will also be responsible for task coordination and management and contribute recognized functional expertise to client deliverables.
Oh my fucking God…
Does the job interview come with a complimentary lobotomy that would be necessary to fit in to a place like this?

“What the hell was that?!” / May 7, 2003 / Comment on this

I like it when it rains in the early evening. The rain itself is enough to make Sara happy. But if it’s summer out and a quick rain came in the early evening, then when it passes, you get the return of a half-light. It’s no longer day, but there’s a dawning after the storm.
Well… I like that, and the smell of hot asphalt as the first rain hits it.
I’m an easy boy to please. Now if I could just get Rajee to send me that damn hooker.
I really hate work right now. I hate questioning every day, why I am still there when no one else lasted. I hate going through the same shit with the requisite new set of people. I hate having so many ideas and so much experience and so many plans… and knowing every time I bring up the crappiest little idea that will keep us from looking like the completely disorganized baboons we are, it will be trodden upon, spit upon, watered down, and ignored. I hate looking the new guy’s face, listening to his enthusiasm and hope and expectations, and keeping my mouth shut, even though I can write out right now, word for word, what he will be complaining about in 4 months. And what he will be arguing about in 9 months, and why he will be gone in a little over a year. But of course… I’m just a bitter old-timer. It’s not like I know what’s going on.
I’ve been picking at something on my iPod. Off and on, while I listen to music, I’m thinking of a mix tape… or soundtrack. Usually soundtracks, because I can see the people and motions that go along with them. So far, my favorite soundtrack includes, in no particular order:
Meg Lee Chin — Bittersweet and Sour
Sleater-Kinny — The Last Song
Pigface — Kiss King
Bjork — Violently Happy
yeah… that’s all I can remember right now. The Pigface one is special. A song you could never find from a well known group or your favorite band, because you would be listening to them too much, instead of the music. Kiss King is just one of those song’s where I pulled the Pod out of it’s case and said “what the hell is this?!”.

It’s all about The Competition / September 20, 2002 / Comment on this

taxes taxes taxes. well at / February 25, 2002 / Comment on this

taxes taxes taxes.
well at least it is Victoria’s-Secret-catalog-day. and a swimsuit issue no less.

What the hell happened / December 10, 2001 / Comment on this

What the hell happened to today? My whole sense of time just shifted. Since I forgot to do my laundry last night, I dragged my butt out of bed early this morning to finish it. (Actually I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, but there was no way in hell I was dealing with soiled underwear at that time of day).
So for a change, I actually accomplished something before work. Normally I’m lucky to get my shoes on before 9 AM.
Monday mornings usually slip by due to our staff meeting, which breaks up the time. But by the time my body started saying ‘lunch’, I looked at the clock to see that it was 1:30 already. I didn’t actually eat till 2, followed by a meeting at three. Then I just worked on smoe projects for the next two hours.
I guess it was all there. But it… *ftt*… right by.

I looked at my / December 3, 2001 / Comment on this

I looked at my reflection in the elevator button panel. And of course I thought…
“Damn, I’m beautiful.”
Maybe I need to cut back on the sugar.
I went into work today to set up the computers for a new employee who’s starting tomorrow. And man, if I didn’t mooch out everything in that office of any value for use in my office. I have a new stereo, computer and monitor stand. I was generous and left them the lamp. New people really get left with the shit.

I’ve got this nasty / August 11, 2001 / Comment on this

I’ve got this nasty feeling that someday my museings here are going to come back to bite me on the ass. All these commentaries and babblings are so public, that someday they will come back to haunt me when I am working for a very delicate position or purrpose.
But that isn’t going to stop me. I’d hate to think that I’ll ever allow myself to be in a situation where I can’t freely express my own views when appropriate.

Cool shit… we’ve got / May 19, 2001 / Comment on this

Cool shit… we’ve got 4 sub-leasees now for our new office.
A photographer, some CPAs, a data mining company, and a magazine.
And a verbal agreement to rent our old office. It’s much easier on the nerves to know you won’t be responsible for rent on empty offices.
Missed my haircut though. *grumble*
My own office… so sweet.

I am tired fer / May 18, 2001 / Comment on this

I am tired fer shit. Just generally worn out. Didn’t physically wear myself out really… but still worn thin.
We’re packed to move. Stayed around until the dismantlers came late and finished. I’ll be back in the morning to reassemble the network. Fuckin DSL wont be up for 3 days at best, more likely 2 weeks.
shit, I need to go look up how to set up this network.

oh my god, oh / May 17, 2001 / Comment on this

oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…
okay… couldnt get that out of my mind. 🙂
he-ya… finally moving at work. into a major nice new office. custom built for us. and hot damn I have my own office. well.. for now. Will eventually share it with someone else, but until they get hired, I’m safe.
The windows are great, at least in the front of the building. It’s so bright in those offices the lights make no difference. I chose my particular office for the view, managing to avoid having to look at our old building every day. My view will actually cover the top floors of this great old office building with an ornate roof.
We had a circular conference room built … sort of a cross between your childhood club house and a UFO. we’ve got 20 or so offices, a kitchen, a store room etc.
and the shit hits the fan tommorrow… At 1, we attack!
Well, the packing anyways.
Actually my only duty for the next 2 days is to strip down the computers, see them safely moved, and then reassemble them (and the networking hardware). It’s not easy being a geek. 🙂
Stacey’s birthday is in a few days. I’m sure she thinks I forgot. (Hell, I did forget Sara’s after all).
I need food.

my apartment, washington, dc / January 27, 1999 / Comment on this

okay… maybe that child care thing didnt come through… but my taxes are still messed up, or not messed up, depending on how you look at it. Either way, I stand to make some lump some money i think/hope. I finally found the address for sara’s journal page today… got to read most of the stuff for the first time. funny… made me realize why I love her even more.


mmmm… comic book day. (sorry… homer simpson flashback)


splain something to me. you know that little box on your tax forms that says “if you do not need forms mailed to you next year, check here”? Well… I checked it last year… cause I moved out of New York. So what do they do? I just got a letter from the New York Tax Department saying ‘since you didnt want new york tax forms mailed to you, we’re going to mail you a sticker for your new york tax forms’


okay… I remember what i wanted to talk about now…


just when the hell did God say unto man, “you will be a will-less sap. all who claim to represent me may control your life”. All my life Ive seen and heard people support their beliefs and agendas by quoting the Bible. Hasnt this ever occured to anyone to be pretty damn flimsy? Hey… Im a rightous, God-loving dude myself… but why, may I ask, does some 2000 year old guy’s interpretation of religion give some bastard in Georgia the right to condem all homosexuals to hell? Ive done some reading in the book myself… lots of nice stories, with morals and everything. Some songs too. But I gotta tell ya, theres damn few places that even claim to be the exact word of God. And what about those that do? If Jethro, the plumber from two doors down the hall, claimed God said unto him, “blessed are the geek, for they shall inherit the earth”, does that mean you’ll start worshipping Bill Gates as the new messiah?


The Bible is a good thing to read. It has a lot of suggestions on how to lead a moral life. But come on… think for yourself. Religion offers one of the best opportunities out there for intellectual debate. But so many people become bogged down in the scripture, they cant decide if some millenia old lifestyle might not be relavent anymore.


They told me once in Sunday School, when trying to explain evil, that God put us down here, and gave us free will. It made things more meaningful that way. If someone gives their devotion to him because theyve weighed the options, its gotta be worth more than if he compelled worship from the masses.

My Apartment, Washington, DC / December 14, 1998 / Comment on this

So right about now you’re asking yourself, “What ever happened to that cute boy who wrote those wonderfull essays?”. The answer being of course, he grew up and changed his named to Mark Twain. As for what Ive been doing… well, once upon a time:

Lets see, I think January was the last time I wrote here. On the fifth of that month, I started a new job at DKG. A very cool place if I do say so, (which i think i just did). Have some great people to work with. A boss who trusts me and respects my opinion, an art director crazier than I am, and a bunch of other people who just dont seem to fit in anywhere else.

And let’s not forget about Pizza Day! The wonderful time each week when the big guy opens his wallet for a domino’s catered lunch. (nothing but the best for our boys outta uniform)

Anyways, onto hopefully more sane thoughts.

Dispite some second, third, and fourth thoughts, I’m still here. A rough spring trying to decide what I was becoming. Final decision? Too introspective.

*** big deleted babbleing ***

told ya I was too introspective.

So fastforward, ummmmm, 6 months. I step into my new apartment and cant believe how good everything looks.Im still getting adjusted. But something nagging the edges of my mind has been sated. I probably proved something to myself. All i know is, I have a job I enjoy going to every day, people I love and who reciprocate, and a nice apartment in the capital of everything.

*** quiet moment waiting ***

Bethesda, MD / December 30, 1997 / Comment on this

back again (and a sexy back if I do say so myself!)

but onto something more realistic.

I got a job! I got a job! I got a job! I got a job!

yes…. another miracle in the life of the terminally pessamistic. Worked for a few days at a design studio here in downtown DC. They hired me! Mucho nice people. And they’re givin me a chance when I dont think the first interview went too well.

*hint**hint* so give em lotsa business so I wont get laid off!

Still doesnt make me feel any better about the job search process. College never prepared me for reality. Companies were curt and even rude. And for some reason, all those close to me felt I should be doing something to make them happy, by moving here, or visiting there. But I chose to be conceited and do what was right for me. (Awful, aint I?) But considering the number of breakdowns I had in just that amount of time, Im glad I didnt do anything to make it last longer.

Now…. here we go again… I gotta find an apartment.

but anywayyyyssss…

like everyone else in thestates, I went home for Christmas. This of course means I once again reminded myself why I left home.

my family is nuts. either that, or they make me nuts. a little of both I think. We had a cheezy family party on the 26th, which is just a time for people who are related to get together and ignore each other, or try to show each other up. Meanwhile, my parents spend the week second guessing all the decisions Im makeing. I’ve been doing good so far, I think I’ll trust myself for a little while longer. I can hardly stand watching my parents lives anyways. They seem to be a long series of complaints about how unfair life is, meanwhile, they do nothing. Literally nothing. They work there less than enjoyable jobs, come home, eat, and go to sleep. I’ve seen each of them have a chance at a better life, and each of them let it fall away.

I cant live like that. I can barely watch someone else live like that. They do nothing, want nothing, give nothing, to make their lives meaningfull. I gotta do something with myself.

Yes, I do love my parents.

Bethesda, MD / December 8, 1997 / Comment on this

People are stupid. No longer are we the mindless masses of sheep we have been compared to in the past. The sheep, in my opinion, have more common sense.

Look around you. Goerge Orwell wasnt telling a story with his book, 1984. He was predicting the future. Par Example:

The News is no longer reported. News is now created. It is cleached, dry-cleaned, and prepackaged for our consuming. Everyone knows a princess died, but how many front page articles were there on the death of probably the only modern-day saint? Everyone knows President Clinton slept around, and tried pot, but who remembers anymore that he made it possible for homosexuals to serve in the armed forces, or that he actually managed to lower the national defecit. We know the verdict in the Lorena Bobbit case, but did Sya Rivezfar ever get forced to return to her mothers home where she had been raped and forced to watch her sister’s murder?

Who works for who? Read the Constitution some time. It tells you of a government for the for the benefit of the people, and responsible to those same citizens. But I dont see that any more. I dare you to find someone who doesnt have an evil tone to their voice when they say the word “government”. Without ever hearing a snigle voice of support for it, the CDA was passed into law, convincing parents that it would protect THE FAMILY from an evil, invisible menace. Doesn’t it strike anyone else as ironic that this government openly admits to having secrets it wont tell it’s citizens? So much for “of the people, for the people, by the people”.

Are you being watched? No? Dont be so sure. Did you see the video cameras attached to bridges that keep track of people who speed or run red lights? They aren’t a conspiracy rumor anymore, they’ve been reported on Prime Time Television. Or the new use for these cameras; using them to monitor trouble spots in towns, in hopes of cutting down on drugs and illicit dealings. Cameras arent the only observation devices. Do you realize just how much information you broadcast everytime you surf the web? Or does it occur to you that someone is gathering all the information each time you pay with a credit card, or use that supermarket discount card. The security system that protects your belongings also lets someone know exactly when you are in and out of your house. And as anyone who has had to fill out federal or college paperwork knows, our Social Security Numbers are hardly the vaults of privacy they once were.

This is only the beginning. But where does the betterment of society end and our privacy begin?

Gannet Multimedia Lab, RIT / October 3, 1997 / Comment on this

Well, welcome to my inane little ramblings. I dont know wether it’s ego or bordom that drive me to posting my thoughts where all the world can read them.
Guess its pointless to ponder now.
So tell me, does anyone out there actually think job hunting is easy or fun? You know how sick I can get of writing cover letters, resumes, making phone calls, all this… just to hear them say we were looking for someone with other qualifications. (Why the he11 didn’t you say that in the job listing!) Or the places that feel the need to hold a 6 month review process just to hire someone for an entry level job. Though entry level is fairly reletive these days. Seems most people want someone for those positions to have a PHD in Astrophysics.
I graduated from one of the best schools in the country for Graphic Design with my degree right on time. So according to TV and the on-campus job-placement office, I should already be employed and shopping at the Gap.
What’s that phrase Im looking for? mmmmmmmmm……oh yeah:
HAH!
Someone out there wanna take pity on a poor soul who seems to have lost his mind through extended exposure to the modern educational institution?