Monthly Archives: April 2007


Yesterday, my great aunt Babe, hosted the annual family “Easter Saturday” dinner at her house in Palm Desert. She cooked a fabulous lunch of ham, green salad, potato salad, and broccoli salad. Great aunt Babe is 94 93 and still goes golfing every week. She is a quiet dynamo.
I had never eaten broccoli salad before and Babe’s version was amazing with broccoli, red onion, thin crispy bacon, golden raisins and sunflower seeds in a thin tangy mayo based dressing. Possibly one of the top 5 best salads I have ever eaten in my life. I wanted the recipe. So, I asked for it after lunch.
Great Aunt Babe said, “No.”
Me, “No?”
Great Aunt Babe, “No.”
Me, “Oh… Are you sure?”
Great Aunt Babe, “Yes, it is for Lynn.”
I sat back down on the couch bewildered. My 2nd cousin-in-law, Pat, asked, “Did she give it to you?” “No. She said it is for Lynn,” I said. “That way it stays in the family,” Pat said. Me, “Hmmph. Well, I will google it. Surely the internets will have the recipe.”
I clicked on my Nokia’s web browser, opened the bookmark for Google, and typed in “broccoli salad“. As I was typing, Pat said, “I always forget about Google. Look, your phone already has all the links.”
One by one I read the linked recipes and lo and behold, the first 7 recipes listed were versions the salad we ate that day. I read the recipes to Pat and she said, “That’s it, it needs to sit overnight.” “Hey, look Elise has a recipe for it with peas.” I then sent Pat the link to Elise’s recipe from my phone and we were both happy. No one else noticed our conversation, nor my looking up the recipe on my Nokia’s browser.
Thirty minutes passed I took the remainder of my dishes into the kitchen when great aunt Babe rounded the corner, picked up a piece of note paper and a pencil to write “1 c. mayo, 2 teaspoons cider vinegar, 1/2 c. sugar” on the paper. She hands it to me and says, “Here is the dressing, use cider vinegar – that is the secret, and then whatever vegetables you want.” And walks off.
I went back to the couch and told Pat what had happened. We laughed.
I am of the internet generation. Why not share your favorite recipe? A version of it is most likely already up on the ‘net, so no reason not to. But when you are 94, maybe the open source world that I am so used to is not what Babe lived or what she grew up with.
Have you had anyone deny you a recipe when you asked?

Good Friday Miracle: 6:41pm, 91 E, 70mph

Good Friday Miracle: 6:41pm, 91 E, 70mph

I have never, ever, never been on the eastbound 91 freeway through the Santa Ana Canyon on a Friday evening during rush hour traffic and been able to drive over 25mph. To drive 70 mph was a miracle. Most of the rest of the traffic must have had Good Friday off or at least half day.

Notes from a Monday Evening Early in April

Tidbits and other bits from the brain and typing fingers of Ms. Jen:
1) Glad that April Fools is over. I never know what to make of the day, as the jokes are rarely truly funny. Google’s Paper mail thing for Gmail, not very funny, more baffling. Toilet broadband? Where is their funny bone? Lost with the IPO? Who are they hiring there? Hmph…
2) This Sat. April 7, 2007 will be my 6th month anniversary of my return home from Mirkwood.
3) If you have a Nokia Series 60 phone and it is having a few problems, update it! Yes, Nokia is the only handset manufacturer that provides a utility to upgrade your mobile phone’s OS/firmware. This is a blessing as the Nokia N80 of Love & Happiness has been running ragged around the edges lately. Yesterday, I used the update/upgrade utility and all troubles have been taken away. Thank you to Nokia for being so user friendly.
4) Web design confession of the week: I actually like using Flash. Yep, Ms. Jen the XHTML/CSS web standards des/dev lady enjoys using Flash. Today, I had the opportunity to use Flash for a contracting project and it was fun. Yes, fun. Thanks to Mr. Dominey for providing a good user experience.
And on that note, have a lovely and delightful evening.
Update from Tuesday Morning:
5) I forgot to mention the whole thing that started the impulse for this post: iTunes. No, not EMI and Apple cutting a deal, but iTunes 7.1.1 is a memory hog. When it is on it causes Firefox to turn into Turtlesnail. I guess it is time to add more RAM.

The Critique

One of the things that I miss from art school is the critique*.
Yes, the hoary, old institution of the critique. Bring your art or design work into a gathering of your peers and professors or visiting artists, either talk about it a bit or not, then everyone else talks about it and you listen. And listen, and filter, and then possibly ask a question or further explain and listen some more.
Sometimes the critique is right on the money and if you listen you will learn a great deal about your process, your art, that particular piece, and maybe, if you really are willing, you can grow from the experience. Sometimes the critique is a piece of shit, the assembled group is not mentally there or they are feeling off or don’t care or at times unwilling to be anything but a bit vicious, and then there can be wounding or anger or ripping your piece to bits in front of them and throwing it at them (particularly effective when the piece is sculptural and has large sticks attached to it, crying while throwing can also add to the effect).
Most of the times, the critique was more than a bit boring or mundane with bits of transformative learning and bits of petty meanness. Lots of sitting, lots of listening to others, and lots of attempting to be present, and if you were letting the listening filter into your brain, then reverberations later that become gentle waves of “oh that is what they meant” awareness. A good lesson for life. Be attentive, listen, some of it may absorb and resound later.
As an adult in a design and art career, I miss the critique. Some clients, if they are artists or designers, can provide good feedback, but the average client either likes it or they don’t and many times they don’t have the language for why, at worst the client is vague, very vague** or is non-constructive in their criticism.
I have been blessed with friends in a variety of art and design fields who are willing to sit down and not just talk about the big ideas running around but about our work. I dearly miss Megan McMillan and Jessica Spengler, as both women are talented writers / artists and thinkers with excellent observations and insights, and wish that both of them were geographically closer or I had more air miles. In my immediate vicinity, I enjoy in person conversations with painters Dan Callis and Ryan Callis, as well as industrial/product designer Thomas Bertling.
One of my favorite parts of SXSW is sitting down one on one with a friend or a small group of friends and asking if they will give feedback. Last year at SXSW, Veerle and I sat at breakfast one morning and discussed the (then) new design of this site. Veerle was kind, thoughtful, and truthful. I thought over her major critique for a number of months, turning the idea over in my head, weighing it against my own design process and ideals, and ended up not using it. This year, I had the opportunity to sit and show Rob Weychert the in progress re-design of Rob was thoughtful, asked questions, gave good feedback about design choices, as well as constructive ideas about color contrast. Yesterday, I tried Rob’s color contrast suggestion and am now very happy with the new color scheme.
* Broader definition of critique at wikipedia.
** Perhaps all business and computer science students should have to take one studio art or design class to learn how to talk in an informed, critical way about the increasing visual world we live in.