Rule 29’s Creative Elements

I’ve known Justin Ahrens for a long time, and he’s always up for a challenge, and a good time … not necessarily in that order. So when I asked him if he wanted to design a set of MOO MiniCards on anything he wanted, he accepted. Sometimes a project with no limitations can be both liberating and debilitating, but Justin is full of surprises and energy, so I wasn’t worried that he’d be stumped for ideas.


This periodic table of creative elements is not only brilliant, it’s gorgeous, especially when you see all the cards together. To read more about the design, go to RockPaperInk.

Same Shirt, Two Class Photos

5th grade class photo
5th grade class photo
6th grade class photo
6th grade class photo

I’m wearing the same shirt in both photos. *sigh* I didn’t do this on purpose, I just really liked that shirt. Yeah, THAT shirt. I rocked that short-sleeved, v-necked, velour top. Ok, maybe not, but look how I complemented the stripes by wearing a bright yellow turtleneck underneath for my 6th grade photo. I was truly entering the 80s. Truth is, my clothing selection was slim pickings at the time. It was probably either wear that, or one of my brother’s hand-me-downs. We weren’t poor, that’s just how it was.

Back then (1970s and 80s), there wasn’t a Justice, or shops that catered to preteens. Even if those stores existed, I’m pretty certain my parents would never have taken me there anyway. Where I grew up in Richfield, Wisconsin, you usually bought your clothes at the same place you bought your chicken feed—Farm-n-Fleet. You could get anything there. Clothes, shoes, farm equipment, school supplies, toys, tools, electronics, etc. My mom would take us there the week before school to do all of our school shopping. Jeans (the only brand available was Lee), check! Tennis shoes, check! Shirts, check! Underware, check! Notebooks, pens, pencils, Trapper Keeper, check! And we only shopped like that once a year. If you ripped your clothes, they were patched not replaced. All of my jeans were patched by the end of the school year, some multiple times.

I’m not complaining, though. Things were a hell of a lot simpler, even if we were fashion-impaired.

Shameless in Peoria

I had a bad experience with a male doctor a couple of years ago, so I started going to a nurse practitioner, who I really like. She has the best bedside manner, asks thoughtful questions, and is really knowledgeable. The other guy was an asshole. Unfortunately, she works at a clinic downtown, which never really bothered me, until today.

This clinic mainly caters to lower income people, because of its downtown location, so it can appear a little rough at times. But, I don’t go there for the atmosphere. I go because I like the service I receive, and I’ve never had a problem—that is, until today.

A man who wreaked of cigarettes and alcohol stumbled over and sat directly in front of me and asked if I had a stick of gum (because that would help the stench pouring off of him). I did, but I said no. I just wanted him to go away. Instead he parked himself there, and said he’s sorry for bothering me—not realizing that by sitting there and staring at me, he was bothering me and making me uncomfortable. He was the poor man’s version of Frank Gallagher on Shameless. If you’re familiar with the show, you understand how absurd this statement is, because there’s no one more pathetic than Frank … except this guy. Frank, is downright affable and charming next to this guy.

He stands up and goes into the restroom, and I’m relieved. I look up and lock eyes with a man dressed as a woman and exchange a knowing glance, like “That guy is fucking crazy! Mmm-hmm.” (I really thought that guy/gal was going to be the most memorable part of this visit). Then, lucky for me, crazy Frank walks out of the restroom, comes back, touches my knee, and sits in front of me again.

He says, “You gotta man?” I say yes. He says, “I gotta joke for you to tell your man. Wanna hear it?” Shoot me. I’m trapped. What the hell am I going to say? Ok, I tell him. “Now after you get your man all tucked into bed and warm and cozy, you tell him this, OK? You have to look at me, because I can’t hear real well.” Shit. He starts talking again, and then thankfully, a nurse opens the waiting room door and calls my name. I jump up and start walking, and the guy says, “Wait, don’t you wanna hear the rest of my joke?” I shout, “No!” as I raced out of the waiting room.

Screen shot 2014-03-12 at 2.50.47 PM







Frank Gallagher, played by William H. Macy on Showtime’s Shameless.

Just Breathe

Lara McCormick, author of Playing with Type (which I edited), took a Zen-like approach when I asked her to design a set of MOO MiniCards. The cards are daily reminders we all need to just sometimes slow down, take a deep breath, and chill. It’s also a good reminder to forgive yourself when you fuck up. We all fuck up, and rather than beating ourselves up over it, you have to get over it and move on. I mean, if John Travolta can get over the fact that he completely slaughtered Idina Menzel’s name on national television, we can forgive ourselves for accidentally running over the neighbor’s dog or taking the pennies out of the penny jar at Starbucks. I’m KIDDING people! I have never done either of those things, although I did accidentally hit MY dog with the car when I was a teenager, but to be fair, he was running in front the car trying to bite the tires. I think he learned his lesson after that.

Read all about Lara’s cards at RockPaperInk.




Burgers & Design: Mixing Metaphors

I never thought I’d say this, but what Christopher Simmons has been doing lately online makes me hungry. He and his cohort from MINE, Nathan Sharp, are making a point to visit a burger joint every week this year and document not only the merit of the burger, but also the surrounding the food/menu/environment on their site/blog, The Message is Medium Rare. While feasting on their burgers, inevitably, the discussion turns to design—whether it’s critiquing the typeface on the menu or comparing the merits of the burger to great design, it all comes full circle. Chris explains it all in my interview with him on RockPaperInk.

The Message is Medium Rare

Get running!

I had a great interview with Adam White from Running Central a couple of days ago about moving the store to the Warehouse District. The article is posted on Whiskey City Collaborative today. It is going to be a huge store with many offerings for runners. I love that this establishment is relocating downtown, and I hope it encourages more businesses to do the same.

Besides the actual move and the benefits to downtown businesses, I like the fact that White and his team are coming up with initiatives to get people moving more. There are plenty of events listed on Running Central’s website–even for kids. I plan on signing my kids up for The Healthy Kids Running Series. God knows they have energy to burn!

From Snow to Run to Fun

Last Thursday I managed to get out of Boston while Pax was moving in, only to encounter more bad weather in Peoria on Friday, while trying to drive to Memphis. Lisa and I were headed there to run a 10k on Saturday and meet up with my friends, Cathi and Jo, who were also running. After more than seven hours in the car, we were so relieved to see the city skyline as we neared Memphis. So, of course, right after we checked in, we joined Cathi and Jo at The Tap Room, where they were already three drinks in.


That night we listened to some great music, ate some horrible food, and got in in time to get plenty of rest for the race the next morning … until the fire alarm woke us up at 12:30. As we slogged down the steps, we were informed that there was a candle fire on the third floor. Ah yes, it was Valentine’s Day, so some dude was likely trying to impress his lady by candle-light. That douche caused me some serious shut-eye!


We all got up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to conquer the road (that is Jo Breaux, ready to go!), although it was much cooler than any of us anticipated—only 33 degrees in Memphis!! Luckily, Lisa and I are used to the cold, so it didn’t faze us too much. The girls from Louisiana, on the other hand, weren’t used to it, but adapted just fine.

The race route went through some really beautiful areas of Memphis, that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen–running through a brownstone residential area to the Mississippi river, through some industrial areas. But I sure was glad when I caught sight of the FedEx Forum where the finish line was located. I got a little too excited and sped up, only to discover it was a little further along than I thought. But, there was a little girl, probably about 8 years old, kicking my ass, so I kept going, trying to keep her in my sight. I’m not below competing with a kid, even if she doesn’t know it.

After the race, Lisa and I reunited with Cathi and Jo to have a celebratory beer, then head back to our room to shower and head out for the day. We had a great time in Memphis hitting up the local favorites such as Local, the Blind Bear Speakeasy, Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, and of course the many jazz joints on Beale Street.


Fu%#ing Nor’easter!

I’m sitting in the back seat clenching my fists and everything else, on my way to Logan International Airport. Traffic is moving at a snails pace–when we’re actually moving. but hey, my flight is scheduled to go (if I get there on time). Luckily, I’m in good hands. The driver, Ronnie, knows what he’s doing.

My luck is suddenly changing … We’re up to 25 mph! And I’m not carsick. So there.


Halfpint hiccup

Call me unpatriotic, but I don’t follow the Olympics. Never really have, except when there’s controversy. Like in 1994, when Nancy Kerrigan got her knee whacked by Tonya Harding’s bodyguard. That sound bite, “Why me?” resonated for months to come, and who couldn’t forget when Harding pointed at the laces on her skates, crying and pleading with the judges. Well, we couldn’t forget it because both instances were parodied to death on late night TV.

Fast forward to Sochi. So much has been made of the security (or perceived lack of), the poor accommodations (have you seen the photos of all the half-built hotels and bathrooms with toilets lined up in a row with no privacy?), database hackers, and streets with no manhole covers to name a few things. Wait, how did the Olympics end up in Russia in the first place? Oh yeah, corrupt decision makers.

Anyway, forget all that. One thing/person I have been following—only because it’s been on the news every night for the past two weeks—is snowboarder Shaun White. He’s been widely criticized by his snowboarding peers for pulling out of the slope style event. They say he doesn’t love the sport as much as they do, he’s not a team player … blah, blah, blah. Really? He basically put the event on the map. They’re just jealous of his success.

Unfortunately, for White, he came up short today and didn’t win a medal in the halfpipe. Maybe the conditions weren’t ideal (which has been widely reported), or maybe he had a bad day, but it still doesn’t erase the legacy he’s already earned. I don’t blame him for pulling out of the other event and risking injury. He earned his ticket to compete, just like the rest of them.