Live today from 3:00 to 4:00 pm Eastern Time, I’m this week’s guest on “Design Matters with Debbie Millman,” the leading internet talk radio show on the “challenging and compelling canvas of today’s design world.”
If you listen live today at 3:00 pm ET, you can use a call-in number to participate in the show.
Voted “Most Popular Podcast” by the readers of if! Magazine, “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” is an opinionated internet talk radio show with over 150,000 listeners. Previous guests have included Milton Glaser, Stefan Sagmeister, and Ellen Lupton.
The show is produced in the Empire State Building in NYC.
Last year, a month or two before SXSW, I went on a movie star diet, all tiny portions of unseasoned unsucculent nothingness. I lost five pounds and wanted to murder the world.
This year I decided to skip desserts instead of dieting.
It’s amazing how many sweets you’re exposed to as the parent of a young child. Even if you don’t stuff your own larders with sugary treats, every weekend it’s some kid’s birthday party, where the cakes and ice cream flow like apple juice. In an environment where all that sugar and flour is normal, you partake without thinking.
So I started thinking.
Rejecting dessert soon became second nature. No birthday cake at little Johnny’s birthday bash. No fabulous pear thing when Grandma visited. No red velvet cake at the place in our neighborhood where it’s to die for. No exquisite little French pastries at the business lunch bistro. No little tin bowl of mango raisin coconut whatever at the best little vegetarian Indian place in Curry Hill. None for me, thanks. Not having any. It looks delicious, but no.
Man is a fallen creature and the devil weaves endless snares. I stuck to my no-dessert program through an onslaught of spectacular temptations. And then, like a fool, I succumbed.
Yesterday, the mother of the tot celebrating his third birthday came around with cupcakes baked into ice cream cones. Sugary vanilla frosting, M&M crumble topping, ordinary packaged cake batter, stock stubby cone—not even a sugar cone.
“No thanks,” I said, waving her away, but smiling to show that I appreciated the offer and did not judge anyone.
A minute later she came back, revolving them a few inches from my lips. “I made extras,” she said perkily.
“No thanks—well, okay,” I said, grabbing one of the things.
I wolfed it down. It was entirely as expected: an initial burst of pleasure followed by disappointment and regret. An absolutely ordinary child’s treat. Nothing special. No depth. Dutifully, no longer enjoying, I finished it all, even the dry, frostingless part deep in the little cone’s bottom.
It was like throwing away a marriage over a one-night stand with someone you met at a bus station.
Relentless winter rain was turning last night’s snow to slush as I with my head cold and A— with her wooly hat left the lobby of our apartment building, headed for the nearby crosstown bus.
From home to preschool is a mile uphill, and we always walk it. But today was no day for pedestrianism. Even the dog could barely be persuaded to lift his leg.
And taking the bus was a form of bribery. A— did not want to go to school today, but she loves to ride the bus.
“We’ll ride the bus to school!” we proposed, and this enticement sufficed to get the girl dressed and downstairs—where we spied the bus, half a block away, accepting passengers and about to leave.
We ran through the slush, holding hands, my office bag bouncing off my left shoulder, the diaper bag bouncing off my right, the stroller sliding ahead of us, guided by my free hand.
You must fold a stroller before boarding a New York City bus. At the bus doors, I had trouble folding. The stroller would not collapse. The driver and the wet passengers inside stared down at me like bison on a nature show, blinking impassively while contemplating my destruction.
A woman in front of me took A—’s hand, to help the little girl onto the bus while her father wrestled with a child carrying appliance.
I saw myself stuck in the slush. I saw the bus doors closing. I saw a strange lady taking my daughter away.
I grabbed A—’s hand, pulled her away from the stranger.
“I’m sorry, thank you, I appreciate it, but my daughter has to stay with me,” I said. At which point, blessedly, the stroller collapsed. I scooped daughter, stroller, diaper bag and office bag into my arms, ascended the bus steps, and placed my Metro card into the card reader.
The bus driver looked at me and said something incomprehensible. The bus beeped; the card reader blinked red and ejected my card.
I reinserted the card, smiling, already soaked, my daughter and possessions balanced against my chest. Again the red, the beeping, the ejection.
This time I understood what the bus driver was saying.
“Your card’s empty.”
“Oh,” I said, the whole bus watching me and my daughter, every face wondering what refugee camp we had escaped from, and whether the bus driver would show mercy and let us ride on this most miserable of cold wet rainy days.
The bus driver blinked at me.
“Um,” I said.
“Pay or get off” the bus driver said.
Buses accept Metrocards and coins only. You need $2 in coins. I don’t carry $2 in coins.
“Can I give you two dollars in bills?” I said.
“No,” the bus driver said.
So the girl and I plunged back into the slush and began the mile uphill walk in the rain.
“Why can’t we ride the bus?” my three-year-old asked through trembling lips.
Her whole world was now about the bus ride she’d been promised, and the promise I was inexplicably breaking.
“I’ll let you walk,” I said, since walking, instead of riding in the stroller, is also a perk.
I took out her Dora the Explorer umbrella, which we bought two weeks ago at a premium price.
It was broken, I discovered. The umbrella offered no protection whatever from the rain. On the plus side, you could still read the Dora the Explorer logo, so the licensee was getting his money’s worth.
Umbrellaless, toddling along, we made it to a major avenue where the deep, melting ice and snow came halfway up to A—’s knees, and women stared at the idiot father letting his beautiful innocent child flounder about in wetness.
“There’s too much ice, now; you’ve got to get in the stroller,” I said.
“No!” she said.
There was nothing else for it. “I’ll give you candy,” I said.
In the Duane Reade on Third Avenue, I let her pick the candy—she selected something pink and disgusting—while I unpacked the stroller to get at a plastic sheet at the bottom. The plastic sheet is supposed to snap over the top of the stroller, protecting children from rain, snow, and oxygen. I could not get it to snap or stay or even cover the stroller. Strike three.
So we walked the rest of the way uphill, uncovered, rain-battered, she with her candy and I with silent curses.
We reached the school and climbed the steps in the usual way—the girl refusing to climb the steps, me carrying her in one hand and the stroller in the other.
We were both soaked through and I realized I was the worst father walking the earth. All the other kids came in wearing rain boots. My kid was wearing pretty little black Maryjanes. The other kids were damp. My kid looked like she had been swimming in the East River.
What saved me was this:
In the library at the top of the stairs, preparing to read a Curious George book before school began, the girl sat by the radiator and said, “Look, Dad. This hot stuff will get me dry.”
One track continues to rule. It rules because you don’t have to decide where to go and what to miss. But it also rules because the conversations in the hallways and pubs can be centered around the same sessions. There’s no “ah, I missed that one because I saw ______ instead”. There’s a complete shared experience between all attendees, and that’s a very good thing.
Slides from the powerful and incredibly useful talk by Luke W. “I walked through the importance of web forms and a series of design best practices culled from live site analytics, usability testing, eye-tracking studies, and best practice surveys. Including some new research on primary and secondary actions, and dynamic help examples.”
Luke W: “Liz Danzico’s talk at An Event Apart dissected seven often-cited information architecture rules and highlighted counter examples that exposed why these rules might be better suited as design considerations.”
Dwayne Oxford: “It’s difficult to walk away from an event like this without a fresh perspective on CSS and the DOM, a head-full of elegant design techniques, and enough inspiration to catapult our work to the next level.”
Jackpot link! Recall every lost issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Identify with Betty or Veronica. Discover the Mad Magazine you never knew. Cover Browser intends to catalog the cover of every comic book (not to mention every book, game, DVD, magazine…) ever printed. With 77,000 entries, they are just getting started. Via Veer.
If basking in the nostaliga of Cover Browser (above) makes you feel like everything that can be digital is becoming so—and if that thought (however inaccurate it may actually be) makes you wonder if widespread digitization is changing the way we perceive and value reality—you’re not alone. But you may not be as articulate about it as the pseudonymous author of the untitled essay posted yesterday at Things Magazine. Read it. Bookmark it. Share it. Via Coudal.
Scott Rosenberg, co-founder of Salon corrects the breathless coverage of The Wall Street Journal, beginning with its fallacious assertion that “It’s been 10 years since the blog was born.” There are journalists who get this stuff right, but not nearly enough.
Over 12,500 desktop icons, organized in sets, for Windows, Macintosh and Linux Systems. Non-commerical use is allowed in most cases. The site’s offerings are culled from other sites (e.g., Star Wars 2, by Talos, comes from Iconfactory); original authors are credited and linked.
[tags]comics, cover art, digitization, UI design, rob weychert, jared spool, facebook, multi-touch, icons, manipulated images, hope is emo, wallstreetjournal, salon, blogs, blogging, first blogger, radiotelepathy, itrapped [/tags]
Better know a speaker: Dan Cederholm
Dan Cederholm is the brilliant mind behind Bulletproof Web Design and Web Standards Solutions and he’s bringing his highly acclaimed talk, “Interface Design Juggling,” to An Event Apart’s Chicago stage. We took a few minutes to dig deeper into what’s going on with Dan these days and what he’ll have in store for us.
Coming soon: Better Know A Speaker interviews with Lou Rosenfeld, Jeremy Keith, Liz Danzico, Luke Wroblewski, and more!
25 A List Apart staffers, Happy Cogs, and friends broke bread (well, more accurately, we broke spring rolls) at Mekong River Restaurant in Austin, Texas. Here Peter is seen making sweet love to his noodles. Missing, and missed: Dan Benjamin, Krista Stevens, Erin Lynch, Andrew Fernandez, Tanya Rabourn, and Andrew Kirkpatrick.
Gender and ethnic imbalance in web design speaker conference lineups reflects a wider such imbalance in the industry as a whole. This imbalance bothers me as much as it bothers Kottke. I am glad Kottke raised the issue in his recent post, although I think it is a mistake to hold conferences accountable for deeper problems in the industry they serve. But that doesn’t for a minute get conference planners off the hook.
The problem is visible at the top because it exists at the bottom. There are barriers to entering the field and barriers to doing well in it. Some of these barriers are economic: not everyone has access to needed tools and training. We are interested in systematic and permanent change in the field, not merely the appearance of change as represented in a conference speaker lineup. Soon we will announce real steps to put these concerns into action.
When the phone rang, around 10:00 pm, my heart stopped. Our friends know we have a two-year-old, and they know we live in an apartment. Anyone phoning after 8:00 is calling with bad news.
The room was dark, my daughter moaned, a voice I didn’t initially recognize began leaving a message. Someone I knew, someone talented and nice and still young, was gone.