All posts in Deep Thoughts

Typopigeon @ Facebook

And so Eugene the typopigeon arrived at Facebook HQ after a mysterious delay in the mailroom. I knew he landed before I saw him, as a colleague stopped me in the hall to inquire: “WHAT is EUGENE?!”

My post about him generated 71 likes and 18 comments. Not bad, typopigeon. I think my own anniversary did not fare nearly as well.

pidge

Having just arrived in millennial country, he reflexively took a selfie with my phone.

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“Take me to your leader,” said Eugene. “I have some feedback for Zuckerberg about the Messenger app.”

“There’s not time for that,” I explained. “We have to see the Analog Lab.” And so I made haste across the campus with pigeon in hand, shrugging of the doubletakes of passersby who wondered how I coaxed a live pigeon to sit calmly in my hand, wearing a tiny knitted scarf.

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Inside the lab, a screen-print was in progress.

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Eugene paused to peck out a letter to his mom.

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Outside again, Eugene alighted upon a table outside The Sweet Stop while I went in to get him some soy bread crumb froyo and a side of flax.

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Next stop: arcade. The pinball machines were no match for Eugene, but this game was a different story.

game

Afterwards we checked out Instagram’s offices within Facebook. “I’d really like to be a fly on the wall over there,” he told me.

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Facebook’s campus has many art exhibits, but Eugene felt most at home with this one, featuring the eggs of various bird species.

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As Eugene’s tour came to a close, he insisted on posing by the following wall-high slogan, which he felt was a great mantra for writers, if a possibly problematic frame of mind for software design. I just shrugged. You don’t argue with pigeons, as everyone knows.

done

Next week, Eugene takes wing to his next destination via USPS, wrapped in god knows what. He wanted me to let you know that he can’t wait to see you.

Beloved Mother

When I lived in Washington I’d drive my 2 year old to a day care four towns away in the morning. There was a freeway but usually I took the back roads through semi-rural properties in suburban Douglas Fir greenbelts and being Washington, usually it was wet and gray.

Sometimes I’d stop at Starbucks and get coffee and oatmeal, and give the raisins to my daughter, reaching back while driving to place them in her outstretched hand. On certain days I stopped the forward motion of our routine for no reason and pulled into the roundabout parking lot of a nearby cemetery.

From the road you’d see a few well-placed graves continually refreshed with seasonal mementos, pinwheels, flowers, balloons. The grave closest to the corner was white stone with a handprint and for maybe a year or more I thought it was the grave of a child, until once I went for a walk there and read it up close: Jill Evans, Beloved Mother, Daughter, Wife. In her living years perhaps she did daily laps like mine, transporting children to their social stations, each member of the family going to their separate classroom or workplace by the appointed hours. Each morning my intuition tries to get a word in about this routine, but it’s a tide, and I’m swept in it.

My daughter eats her raisins without comment and looks serenely out the windows as I start the car again, she takes in the graves and the douglas firs matter of factly, her round face is crushing to my heart as I catch sight of it in the mirror while turning onto the road. Today she’ll sing songs and turn pages of some beat-up board books, and walk outside in the play yard wood chips in the misty rain with her fleece sweatshirt while I walk hurriedly from meeting room to meeting room.

2 Years of Writer’s Block

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If it works, it’s obsolete

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Seen in the hall today at work… from Facebook’s Analog Research Lab.

Dead Mall: Totem Lake, Kirkland WA

 

Today I paid a visit to our local dead mall, Totem Lake of Kirkland, WA. I’ve written of prior visits in 2005 and 2006

Little had changed.

Here is my photo essay of today’s visit.

Totem Lake Mall’s status as a dead mall has been exhaustively and impressively documented by Kirkland Reporter Matt Phelps in a 5-part series written in 2011:

  1. Part 1: The history of Kirkland’s Totem Lake Malls
  2. Part 2: The fall of Kirkland’s Totem Lake Malls
  3. Part 3: Totem Lake Malls’ redevelopment rumors avert new business
  4. Part 4: The current impact of Kirkland’s Totem Lake Malls
  5. Part 5: The future of Kirkland’s Totem Lake Malls and neighborhood

I’ve lived in the neighborhood 10 years and the mall is virtually unchanged from the day I arrived. Each time I drive by I feel like I am passing a mausoleum, or some kind of ruins from a 1970’s civilization.

(At left: A photo from the early years of the mall)

It’s puzzling that it can’t be solved, the question of what to do with this abandoned tract of retail wasteland in the middle of a well-off suburb. The answers seem so simple– “it needs lattes,” my daughter suggested. I wish they’d put her in charge.

Typewriter Shack, Envisioned

Firstly, if you have a writing shack or trailer, I want to see pictures. If you *want* a writing shack or trailer, what would it look like? Here’s my artistic rendition of two potential options:

This shackwant is, in my case, a reaction to feeling totally overwhelmed by the complexities of corporate and family life. I’m picturing myself as an elderly George Bernard Shaw, shut up in my splintery 8X8 enclosure, a place in which I can pretend a simple typewriter and cup of coffee are the only things I must contend with– that, and perhaps a cat.

Another bit of advice on the Googles, by the way? Don’t search for vintage canned ham trailers. For you’ll then want one or several, and will lose future hours to trolling Craigslist and thinking about vintage fabric for miniature window treatments. I can think of nothing quite delightfully like a typewriter in style and substance than a canned ham trailer, can you?

Will we all eventually meet up for a canned ham trailer and typing convention in some unsuspecting campground? I can only hope some summer that we do.

At The Cemetery

It has nothing to do with typewriters, I know.

In which the University of Washington renews my faith in bookstores


This is all sharpeners. I mean, a whole *aisle* of just sharpeners. I didn’t even capture the whole aisle in the photo.

Same, but erasers. Amazing.

RIP, Borders books


The analog renaissance?

Richard Polt posted an interesting link to this article about the analog renaissance of communications media on typosphere.net, and I’m curious to know what people think – is this really a rebirth and revival, or just a symptom of Marshall McLuhan’s theory that we’re turning analog culture into art because we cling to a “rearview mirror view” of our world? Or there is a third option: does this article and others like it describe only a very few individuals or retailers, that journalists are falsely claiming is a mass-culture fad? (Or perhaps they are trying to instigate the creation thereof).

People have been fetishizing records ever since they fell from grace in the 80’s or thereabouts. Etsy sellers have been hawking handmade books for years. Don’t get me started on analog cameras (mostly because I know nothing about them, except that they remain popular with a large percentage of professional photographers). What claim does the current day have on being the renaissance moment of analog communications media? Is it just the typewriters? Really?

Pertaining to this question, I’ve been meaning to eventually expand the focus of this blog beyond the noble typewriting machine, and into the general pool of analog writing tools and techniques (mail art, books, pens & pencils, handwriting and drawing, sketchnoting, etc). I’ll get there someday. In the interim, I wrote this blog post on sketchnoting for the University of Washington Flip the Media blog. Can’t seem to get enough of that topic, although so far I have failed to convince anyone in my corporate work environment that sketchnoting is the perfect format for software documentation.