December 19, 2008

My Top Bookmarks of 2008

These are some of my favorite things on the web. What are yours?

Top Fun Blogs that Make My Day
FailBlog - Pics & Video of stupid people messing things up. What could be funnier than laughing at other people's misfortune and/or moronic behavior? (Quick tutorial: "Fail" = poor execution; "Win" = good execution or unintentional fortune; "Owned" or "Pwned" = completely dominated)
BoingBoing - News from the outer margins of popular culture and tech sub-cultures. Admittedly, this blog flies over my head half the time, but it's always good for at least one laugh and/or WTF moment.
XKCD - Hilariously ironic webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language. TIP: Don't forget to hover over the comic graphic for additional insight from the artist (avail: Mon/Wed/Fri)
PhotoShop Disasters - Instances of poorly executed PhotoShop manipulation that have somehow made it past the art director's desk and into public consumption. This blog does often nitpick too much but it's still entertaining to see what's wrong with each image.
You Suck At PhotoShop - A hysterical web video series by Donnie, a fictional, elitist PhotoShop expert who attempts to alleviate his failed marriage by giving PhotoShop tutorials and insulting his audience. While this is intended as a comedic saga, there actually is a lot of valid PhotoShop advice in here. So it's a double win.

Top Shopping/Commerce Sites
Woot - One tech deal a day with BRILLIANT copy-writing.
TramDock - One ski deal at a time, by
SteepAndCheap - One outdoor deal at a time, by
UnCrate - An insightful product blog form men. Great design too.
The Goat - An entertaining outdoor gear blog, by

Top Time-Sucking Social Media Platforms
Facebook - After stomping my feet in extreme distaste for social networking sites, I was asked to use Facebook for work-related research and somehow became addicted to this stupid thing.
Twitter - Ditto. I started out just trying to understand WHY anyone would want to "tweet" to friends and strangers, but now I'm up to 10 tweets a day.
Delicious - I thought I had no use for social bookmarking. But it's actually kinda cool to be able to share links. There's always something new to look at when you're bored or need a study break.
Flickr - Simply the best and most beautiful photo storage/sharing site out there. Plus the API makes it more accessible every day.
CraigsList - Combination online yard-sale, therapist, career counselor and nightclub. Plus with the new firefox plugin "Craigslist Image Preview" you can quickly browse all the images posted to listings without clicking the ad, which is even more addictive.

Top Media/Entertainment Sites
The Big Picture - An unbelievably powerful photo-blog that compiles the top professional imagery on a given topic, while displaying them at a dramatic 990 pixels wide!
Hulu - The new standard in online video. If you're sick of watching people's cats fall off things on YouTube, you can catch up on news and entertainment from TV here.
New York Times - Simply the best news site around. In an age of increasing anti-intellectualism, the Times maintains THE professional standard for journalism and sophisticated delivery. It has also re-set the bar for content-rich interface with its no-frills, text-as-text approach.
B-Net - A gorgeous site for business types. I don't always have a use for it's content but It's a case where design enhances the experience.
TED - Wanna know what the next big thing is? Watch some presentations from big-brained, industry-leading, techno-weenies and prepare to have your mind blown.

Top Design-Nerd Sites
A List Apart - Happy Cog's design and web standards blog offers insight into all aspects of interactive design. I think I have a little design crush on them.
Authentic Boredom - Salt Lake-based designer and lecturer, Cameron Moll expounds on design, type, and the industry. Perhaps a little ego-centric, but still interesting.
Jon Tangerine - A brilliant designer and student of typography, Jon Tan's blog is full of great insights and obsessive detail.
CSS Beauty - Some good inspiration for aspiring CSS designers like myself. Great sites to look at and a vast resource. I just wish it was updated more often.
Smashing Magazine - A great combination of eye-candy and how-to. Lots of great tips on here for designers but also just plain fun to look at.

December 9, 2008

Opening Weekend

Despite a lack of natural snow and fickle temperatures making it hard to make snow, The Canyons and Deer Valley Resort were both able to open this weekend. On Friday, I took a few hours off from work to enjoy some early runs at The Canyons. I rode up the gondola, over the brown landscape and exited at Red Pine Lodge into a wonderland of man-made snow. I have to admit that I was surprised. I was impressed at the coverage, but also the quality of snow The Canyons was able to produce despite the less than ideal conditions.

Saturday and Sunday we were treated to VIP passes at Deer Valley's Annual Celebrity Skifest to benefit the US Ski Team and Bobby Kennedy's Water Keeper Alliance. We had a nice dinner friday night at the Silver Lake Lodge and tent access throughout the weekend at the finish line of the Celebrity race course. The food was excellent and yes, there was free beer thanks to the primary sponsors, CBS. The race will air on CBS, Sunday 12.21.08 at 5pm eastern before the Rose Bowl. If you watch closely you'll see us in the background of the finish-line interviews. I have a beard and red goggles. Sarah's in black sunglasses.

Celebrity sightings from the weekend include: Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Picaboo Street, Joe Pantaliono, Larry David, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Matthew Modine, Tommy Moe, The Maher Brothers, and a bunch more. We opted not to take very many pictures of them because we didn't want to lose our free beer priveledges. But a good time was had by all.

November 20, 2008

My first Lecture

Wow. So it turns out I'm a babbler. Just got done talking to a class taught by my friend Mark Wooding at my alma mater, Northeastern University. The “lecture” was conducted live via iChat and the built-in iSight camera on my Mac. After straightening out a few minor glitches at the outset, I spoke longer than I had intended and answered a few questions at the end. The Motion Graphics class was gracious and even stayed awake as I delivered a stiff presentation about being a freelance designer (by choice or necessity) and how it can allow you to maintain the flexibility to prioritize your life in a favorable way.

If you’d like to see the cheat sheet, click here for the lecture notes. Thanks to Mark and his Motion Graphics class for their patience and humor.

November 11, 2008

On Breaking Stride

Our movie rental vehicle of choice these days is the Red Box, a ubiquitous, $1/night DVD vending machine available at any grocery store or McDonald's in Utah. The system's most obvious flaw is also it's greatest asset: limited choice. The machines contain mostly family and horror titles, appealing to the impulses of the broadest of instantly-gratified audiences. But there are often some sleeper movies mixed amongst the Kung-Fu Panda's and Saw III's. Last night we settled on Smart People and hoped for the best. Overall the movie was unremarkable, except for the painful awkwardness of each of its main characters. I would classify the movie as delightfully dysfunctional along the lines of Dan in Real Life or Little Miss Sunshine.

As a brief synopsis, Lawrence, Dennis Quaid's character is a bitter, pompous widower who half-heartedly and numbly teaches literature at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (perfect location). His two children carry excessive baggage, hiding in intellectual pursuits while Lawrence's underachieving adopted brother moves in to help out after Lawrence has a trauma-induced seizure and cannot drive himself to work for six months.

What stuck with me was how each character hides in his or her routine to cope with the pain of life. Rather than feeling anything, each character shuts out the world and focuses on areas in which they excel. Each experiences hollow successes they can't bare to share with the family for fear of becoming vulnerable. I find that to be a powerful social commentary. I won't call this a major revelation but rather a "huh." moment. Especially with winter on the horizon, I think we could all stand to step back and figure out how to avoid setting life on auto-pilot, make life memorable, and feel something real every day. Each of us have ways of coping with the world, the economy, the strains of family, the responsibilities of work, and the potential lamentation of a life under-lived. And while I do not profess to be a life-coach or motivational speaker, I think I can offer a few ideas how you can stay human.

At Work
I assume you do what you do because you love it. No? Then WTF are you doing there? But if you still fundamentally love what you do, then here are some ways you can preserve that naive passion.
Appreciate Greatness – Make time every day to find something inspiring somewhere in your industry, that forces you to rise above mediocrity. In my case it's easy to visit various design award sites each day to see something amazing. It also influences me to do work worthy of such recognition, and submit it for approval...the trick is not to become obsessed with recognition.
Learn New Tricks – Keep an eye out for career advancing opportunities such as conferences, seminars, courses, online tutorials, or even blog posts. We're never too old or too advanced to learn new tools to help us deliver a better product. I recently attended An Event Apart in Chicago and left with ideas spewing from each of my 3 remaining brain cells. Learning new skills improves your marketability and renews your commitment to your craft.
Improve Your Environment – Buy a lamp. Paint the walls. Add a plant. Clear your desk. Change your desktop wallpaper. DO ANYTHING you think will give you ownership of your immediate environment. Employee mental health is a leading factor of morale in a workplace and it's something we all can control to some extent. If your environment doesn't please you, it's YOUR fault. Take control.
Teach Someone – You presumably have had the benefit of someone with greater experience than yours, handing down knowledge, voluntarily or accidentally. Reaching out to help a younger colleague not only gives your youthful counterpart a leg up, but it gives you a self-esteem boost. Also, it adds to your managerial capacity while giving you a new, youthful advocate. Plus it reaffirms what you know, giving you a renewed sense of confidence. What's the downside?
Take a Mental Health Day – Unless you're an ER doctor, there's no reason to place so much emphasis on your job that it takes priority over your lifestyle. EVERYONE should be afforded the opportunity to live on their own behalf. Plan ahead. Get your work done early, log in remotely, call in to a conference call from a "difference office", or just play dead. But once in a while, it's OK to sneak off and enjoy life. Tell them Joe said so.
Go on an interview – Even if you're perfectly happy with your current job, there's nothing wrong with seeing what's out there. Take the time to consider other opportunities. It'll keep your interview skills sharp, your résumé polished and it'll renew your perspective on your current situation.
Find a new job – If all else fails, there are other jobs out there. Everyone has bad days but there is absolutely no excuse to be unhappy at work constantly. If you can't find some nugget of virtue in your job, it has ceased to be an asset in your life and it should be sacrificed as soon as you can make a safe transition.

At Home
We all have passions outside of work. The trick is to make sure those passions remain a priority. Can you put life before work? Maybe not always. Can you do it more than you do now? Probably.
Plan Your Weekends
– Sarah and I generally try to plan our weekends by Monday at the latest. It gives us something to look forward to, but it also gives us something to reflect upon. Big weekends mean big memories; big bragging rights; and big precedents. No one drives around with an "I'd rather be bowling" sticker. Life is defined by nuance, not routine. Mix it up.
Mix It Up – So you like to clubbing....etc. REFUSE be defined by what you know. I know that as the snow falls, I'll probably ski all winter. People expect to see pictures of me skiing and THAT's OK. I love it. But it's the unexpected that makes my free-time memorable. Try something new. Doesn't matter if you hate it. You'll remember it, right?
Make Impromptu Plans – Every Thursday, Sarah and I rush home for The Office and/or Grey's Anatomy. We don't have a DVR (yet) so we take turns watching one show live and one via or something. However, DVR or not, if a friend offers to have us over that night, we're not saying no. Life happens. TV can re-occur at any time.
Pick Up a Hobby – I'm sure your good at stuff. But how'bout trying something you suck at? I started skiing only because my girlfriend (at the time) told me I could either learn to ski or be lonely all winter. As it turns out, my life has re-arranged itself nicely.
Leave the Dishes in the Sink – Once in a while, it's ok to just enjoy a nice dinner/dessert/case of beer and leave the repercussions till tomorrow. Procrastinating has value when used as a method of preserving the extraordinary, vs. prolonging the inevitable. So make today extraordinary and you never have to worry.
Get Up Early – Assuming last night wasn't epic, make a habit of getting up early to add extra flexibility to your day while you have the capacity and flexibility to enjoy it. I'm not a morning person. No one is. But getting up early allows me to perform the "3 S's" (Sh**, Shower & Shave — guess which takes the longest) and still have time for the rest of my morning routine, pleasantly set to music via our kitchen iPod speakers. Subnote: sing along like the world will never know...because they probably won't.

With Your Spouse/Sig. Other/Dog
You may very well have a commitment, for better or worse to enhance someone's life. You have the opportunity to make someone else a better person. You have the ability to be a better person. But how?
Show Appreciation
– Sometimes, saying "thank you" or "I love you" isn't enough. We all have well-rehearsed gender roles. And although I don't believe in those as a tradition, more often than not, Sarah ends up cooking because she doesn't suck at it. However, it helps to switch things up once in a while. I'm culinarily challenged but I've learned to grill (a little bit) and have discovered a few (emphasis on few) other recipes I can execute as readily as honey-nut cheerios. At the very least I try to help in small ways (I'm allowed to grate cheese and open wine). But sometimes I insist on stepping in, and Sarah's appreciation always preempts her distaste for my inept effort.
Go For a Walk –Whether you live with a person or beast, it is certain that you all would benefit from a brisk walk. Be it around the block or up a mountain, the pure endorphin release alone is worth the time and effort. But surely the caloric processing, the adventurous spirit, and the uncommon nature of the event is sure to spark new life into your weekly doldrums.
Get in a Fight – Sarah has nightmares that I've somehow become indifferent. I assure her, that that's the last thing she needs to worry about. Our intense personalities often clash, testing our trust and unconditional love. Yet fights are often the cumulative result of communication failures and while they're a last resort, they can be the pathway to real communication. Many useful revelations come from fights. Boundaries are set and improvements are implemented. All you have to do is make up. PS: Never underestimate the intimate power of making up.
Have a Dance Party –Don't turn on the TV. Pop a bottle of wine and share your latest MP3 acquisitions, turning your kitchen/living room into a private dance club. Pull the curtains, and dance like no one's watching. Forsake all inhibitions and general inclinations toward dignity and just freakin' go for it. Few things can release as many pheromones as a single dance session. What's more, chicks dig it. So consider this the elusive foreplay session you've been googling.
Go Out on a Date –Plan a special night. It can be 5-star or it can be take out. Just make sure that its intention begins and ends with quality time. If a friend calls with last minute concert tickets, too bad. Tonight is about eye contact, flirting, and hoping to hook up, like a first date.
Shock Them with Affection –It's Monday morning. You're both exhausted; fumbling for a clean travel mug; trying not to trip over each other in the phone booth you call a kitchen. Maybe you commute together, or maybe your syncopation ends in the driveway. Regardless: make it a point each day to kiss with intention before parting ways. I'm not talking about a quick peck. I'm not talking about a "don't mess up my lip balm" lip-check. I'm talking about sentence-stopping, lip-sucking, tooth-paste-tasting, Mary Chapin Carpenter "passionate kisses" every god damn day. It's not always possible, but if you have access to a pair of willing lips, there's NEVER a reason not to start a day this way.

But what do I know? I invite your suggestions on how to fight the melodrama of dark seasons and the numbness of day-to-day life in the comments to this post. Any ideas?

November 10, 2008


Just a quick announcement: I officially no longer work for FetchDog. About a month ago I was informed that due to recent the economic cluster-f***, FD would be making drastic cutbacks. I was given a relatively generous warning, considering most people were told to clean out their desks the same day. Many other employees were asked to swallow pay-cuts in order to keep their jobs. So I won't feel sorry for myself.

I am optimistic (as usual) that this will be a positive turn of events for me. There were some good things about working there but overall, I was never particularly cut out to work from home. At one point about 6 months ago, I even considered taking another job until Fetch talked me out of it. There's a certain irony there, for sure.

Anyway, I've been considering other opportunities. I was very touched that FlashPoint (a Park City-based interactive agency from whom I've been renting office space) has made room for me on their team. I'll be working part-time with the great folks at FlashPoint while I pursue independent projects on the side and try to ski as much as possible this winter. As I said, this could be a VERY positive turn of events.

October 23, 2008

Dear Winter: We're ready for ya...

The morning temperatures are in the teens now and we're ready to start getting our schralp on. The golf and mountain-biking seasons are dwindling, the sun sets early, and we've had a few dustings on top of the hills. So dear Winter, bring it on. Let's do this!

New Site

Just a small announcement: I launched a new portfolio site last week. I do that every so often when I want to re-invent my virtual look. There's some new content but for the most part the difference represents a shift professional in my self-image. Over the last few years, I've become less enamored with Flash, both in the user experience and as a professional design platform. I've never liked being lumped in with blatant Flash advocates. And especially since the advent of ActionScript 3.0 (Flash programming language) I've been less inclined to re-learn the language and have watched it fall out of favor with the design community.

The new site (although it's still being developed) is a more accessible and more accurately trackable, CSS-based site with larger, bolder graphics and ultimately more flexibility for me. Hope you like:

Trip to Chicago

Last week I was in Chicago for a web design conference called "An Event Apart." The conference is kind of a big nerd-fest but it was very interesting for me and stimulating for my career. The topics ranged from the high-level creative process analogies (design as chess, websites as comic books, etc.) to the nitty gritty of CSS best practices, web standards, design critiques, and the future of the internet.

The main attraction were the distinguished speakers from all walks of the web design industry; names that would mean nothing to most people I know, but people of influence and unparalleled talent who's work, books and blogs are all a daily influence on my career. Long story short: it was cool.

I also got to visit Chicago for the first time. The first night, I walked from my hotel on the Chicago River, up to Wrigley field (approx. 5 miles) just to see it. The second night, I tried to take in a Chicago Blackhawks game but got there too late to get a ticket, after passing up the conference's happy hour. Oh well. Still a good trip, especially since it was paid for by FetchDog.

September 19, 2008

Weekend in NYC

Sarah bought us Yankee tickets for our anniversary. She knew I had never been to Yankee Stadium and that it was a big deal since they're tearing it down at the end of the season. We had a great time. We flew in to JFK Friday night, where our friend Meredith picked us up. She drove us to her beautiful new house in Long Island.

Saturday we hung out in the morning with Meredith and Brian's 10-month-old baby Madeline. She's gorgeous and very expressive. We took her to Grandma Ronnie and Grandpa Marty's place down the street for an afternoon of free babysitting. It was good to see Meredith's parents on whom I apparently made a memorable impression despite my marginal behavior.

We left for the game with Meredith's sister, Karen and drove into the city. We parked the car at 86th and Lex (don't I sound like a new yorker?) and hopped the train to the Stadium. The train was crowded but manageable. We hopped off and stood in the shadow of the massive cathedral protruding from the Bronx bedrock only a relay throw away from the new stadium. I was excited the entire day but when the stadium walls came into view I became unintelligible. I began taking pictures but in the hustle and bustle, I only snapped off a few.

We entered the stadium and started climbing the ramps to our seating area. We had received an amazing upgrade because the ticket holders who own the seats next to Meredith's family's season tickets were not able to make it. As we made our way to our section down the hallway, past all the vendors, I caught glimpses of the field. I choked back a lump in my throat and tried to ignore tears of joy upon thinking of not just the stadium but the momentous gesture from my wife that got me there. As we found out section, we descended the stairs and I was just beside myself in awe of the moment. I find myself resisting the urge to overstate the beauty of it (compared to say Fenway, The Sistine Chapel, or the birth of my nephew) but let's just say it lived up to all expectations. I spent the first few innings in relative silence staring at the pristine pinstripes and enjoying the atmosphere. I cheered for the Yankees, but purely to play spoiler against the visiting Rays. And it seemed over in an instant.

Afterwards, we hopped back on the train with surprising ease and headed back out to Long Island. When Officer Brian got off his 12-hour shift at a street fair in Floral Park he came home and the four of us went out for a tremendous Italian dinner followed by a relatively calm, yet somehow debocherous night of drinks and a few games of Uecker (card game which Meredith taught us to play but not to win). At this point Madeline was still under the loving, albeit indentured care of her grandparents.

Sunday morning happened eventually. We slept in. We caught up with the happy family upstairs and were treated to genuine New York Bagels. We headed back to Ronnie and Marty's place for some air-conditioning and football on a 60+ inch, 1080p high def screen that was to die for. And to top it all off, we ordered 2 pizzas for lunch, one New York style and one Cicilian...both of which I had in front or me now.

Thanks again to the Naughtons and Finns for hosting a great weekend. And thanks again, most of all to the love of my life for helping me check off a major bucket list item.

August 29, 2008

Best Wife Ever...

Wednesday was our third anniversary. We can't believe it's already been this long but so be it. Sarah's new boss suggested she reserve a table in the formal dining room of the super swanky hotel where she works now. (Oh yeah, did she tell you about her awesome new job? You should ask her about it.) We were treated to the complete 5-star experience for dinner; an amazing meal with such exquisite flavors and tremendous service. All the while we sat comfortably in the gorgeous mountain-lodge setting amidst the evening alpenglow, overlooking the lush green slopes of Deer Valley Resort.

But the real shock was before dinner. In the weeks leading up to our anniversary, Sarah had asked for carte blanch in buying us a mutual anniversary gift, no questions asked. I said "Sure, I'm off the hook. Run with it." I thought it might involve the flat screen TV we've been discussing, or the carpet we've been wanting. But I had no idea.

Prologue: A few weeks ago we were out for drinks with friends, watching the Red Sox on TV. Someone mentioned what a shame it was that Yankee Stadium was being closed after this year and a friend from Massachusetts asked me if I had ever been to the Stadium. I simply said no, but Sarah picked up on a sadness or disappointment in my voice or expression of which even I not aware.

Anyway before dinner, in the privacy of her office (she knows I can get a bit emotional) she told me that she had gone to the trouble of buying tickets to the Yankees/Rays game on September 13th at Yankee Stadium. She had booked plane tickets using her free Delta companion fare and arranged to stay in Long Island with our friends Meredith and Brian (Meredith may very well be our only RSS subscriber so I know she'll be the first to read this post.) I can't even express how blown away I was when Sarah told me. I couldn't speak. I could only stutter and babble about how much I love her. What's more is that as circumstance would have it, the Tampa Bay Rays are actually in first place in the AL East so not only were these tickets nearly impossible to obtain, but I'll actually be in Yankee Stadium with the rare opportunity to root for the Yankees to play the spoiler and beat the Rays, thereby helping my beloved Red Sox in the standings. All I can say is HOLY CRAP!!!

Attention Ladies: If you’d like to ask Sarah how to be the best wife or girlfriend ever, please form an orderly line and please, no pushing or shoving.

Trip to Maine/NH (continued)

OK, so I guess Sarah wants me to write about the rest of the trip. (Please read her post below.) Firstly, I'd like to apologize to all the folks we didn't get to see this time around. We miss you all.

In a stroke of convenience, I was able to arrange a trip to Portland, ME to make a quarterly appearance at the FetchDog Mothership and coordinate the timing to allow us to attend Tera and Jeff's wedding in Auburn. I also used the opportunity, to see my family in Epping, NH. I flew into Manchester on Friday night, where my Brother, Jay picked me up. In the morning he kindly took me scuba diving (his new hobby) for the first time ever, using some of his spare gear. My parents, my sister Jules, and my sister-in-law Jeannine were there to root me on. Apparently, conventional wisdom dictates one should have several days worth of training in shallow pools learning to breathe underwater and operate the equipment. However, I don't think there's any room in the big-brother/little-brother paradigm for conventionalism. After all, I've also taken to 11,000 feet and simply told him to point his skis down the hill. So maybe this was payback I thought as I submerged myself in the Atlantic, tightly bound in an ill-fitting, 7-mm wetsuit with 60 pounds of Ghostbusters Proton Pack on my back. The initial discomfort and aimless flailing gave way to novelty as I scoured the shallow shoreline inside the breakers. We then decided to head out a little further. That's when it got really interesting. As I headed out to the deeper areas, I found myself lost in a dark world of kelp, which basically freaked me out. So I fought through it thinking it would lighten up any second. Before I knew it, I had made my way out well, past any comfort zone I might have known and started freaking out. My brother was right behind me and helped me take a break to get my heart rate under control. We made our way over to a set of rocks, away from the kelp jungle, where I was able to regroup and eventually explore down as far as 10 feet or so, and see crabs, lobsters, snails, and of course golf balls.

Later in the day, we met up with my other brother, Jim and his wife Abby and my 6-year-old nephew Jimmy. We attended a dedication ceremony of a large wind-mill at a farm in Greenland, NH and then headed out for ice cream. The next day, we headed out on Jay's new motor-boat. I don't know what kind it is, but I think it's a really nice one because people stared at it a lot. We cruised from Dover Point out the Piscatiqua River to Portsmouth/Kittery and down to Newburyport, MA for lunch. It was one of the first nice weather days in a while so there were a lot of boats out. But we had a great lunch and headed back up. On the way back, we stopped by our old grade school, Lady Isle School in Portsmouth's Little Harbor. The little Catholic school on an island had been boarded up around 1992, a year after I left and had been mostly unoccupied. Apparently it is now owned by a single family who seems to have no interest in restoring or developing the gorgeous property and has instead let the old school buildings decay in the harsh New England climate.

That night I met up with Pete Clarke and his fiancee (!) Jenn. It was great to catch up with them but I took great satisfaction in meeting them at the church up the street from my parents' house which has been converted into a fantastic bar. I grew up attending mass in this old building when it was hot and sticky, staring at the ceiling and counting the links of chain holding up the chandeliers. The new decor, and the new purpose I found refreshing and very well done.

In the morning, my mother and I drove up to Portland, where I worked for the week at the FetchDog office on Fore Street. The week went smoothly and it was great to catch up with co-workers I usually only converse with over email or instant message.

Sarah arrived on Saturday and we began our whirlwind tour of Maine as she described, concluding with Tera and Jeff's wedding. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel in Portland around 2am. Our flight out was at 6am. Why would we do that to ourselves you ask? It's complicated. But we set the alarm for 4:30am thinking we'd get up, shower, get dressed, throw everything together, check out, drive the 20 minutes to the airport, return the rental car, check in and make it through security — NO PROBLEM. As you can imagine, that was at best, wishful thinking on our part; a poor judgment call made out of sheer exhaustion. Our lack of common sense was exacerbated when the alarm actually sounded and we hit the snooze button twice and proceeded to each take a shower. By the time we frantically got in the rental car and more or less got lost en route to the airport, our hopes of making our flight were nil. Luckily, a nice US Airways employee named Shannon did some fancy footwork and was able to get us on the next flight at 7:15 which made stops in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Phoenix and eventually Salt Lake. What's more, she did it for free, and she even got us seats next to each other on each flight. WOW. 17 hours later, we were back in Utah being serenaded by our tone-deaf dogs, safely cradled in the comforting expanse of the Wasatch Mountains.

View more photos from the trip here:

August 26, 2008

Trip to Maine

Joe and I attended Tera and Jeff's wedding this weekend in Auburn Maine. It was a quick trip for me since Joe had been back east for the week visiting his family, which I am sure he will write about next. I flew out Friday evening at 11:15p from SLC on Jet Blue and apparently they were running a 5 for 1 deal, bring 4 kids under the age of 2 with you and you fly for the price of 1. It was madness and I had to take cleansing breaths as a toddler climbed on my carry-on with chocolate covered hands.

Once I got to Maine I rented a car and drove to Joe's hotel to pick him up. When I approached the hotel I noted that there was a street art fair on the same block and there were barricades all around and the meters were all covered with emergency signs. Finally, I drove through one blocked street and explained kindly to the woman that I needed to get to the hotel parking despite the fair. I made it in and was able to shower and gather myself before we started the trip to Augusta to visit with my Aunt, Uncle and Grandmother.

Gretchen, my Aunt, put on a great lunch for me complete with lobster rolls and even introduced me to the game of Wii. It was wonderful to see them as well as their new home.

Now for the fun part...the reception was outdoors with beautiful waterfalls as the backdrop. Jeff did a great job of keeping his composure while still trying to coax a laugh out of Tera, who looked radiant in her gown. The reception had so many personal touches which only Tera could pull with such style. It was great to be with all the girls from my Sunday River Days and the party ensued. It made me realize what wonderful friends I have and how much I miss hanging out with them. It was a great visit and I look forward to seeing them again and with that I will let Joe tell you about of return trip since he is much wittier than I.

August 4, 2008

Rant: Rock Bands I Would Never Miss

Here's a list of Bands/musicians I would not mind seeing involved in a plane/bus crash. There's plenty more obvious artists that everyone hates, but these overrated acts can instantly make me want to crank the steering wheel off a cliff.

-No Doubt / Gwen Stephani
The Ska scene was almost still relevant when No Doubt applied their SoCal twist to it. Sure, I bet if you're a huge No Doubt fan they were great before the rest of the country caught on etc. But I have news for you, if it ceases to stay real when it's popular, it was never real in the first place. And Gwen Stephani's little pouty expressions, her look-at-me-i'm-funky style, and her candy lyrics are not cute. I know there are plenty of guys who disagree but I'm not buying it. I could honestly go the rest of my life without hearing from them again.
(*Addendum - I met Gwen Stefani the other day. She was actually very nice. But I stand by my distaste for her music.)

-Jimmy (F***ing) Buffet
I never really felt one way or another until a recent trip to Florida where the hotel played Jimmy Buffet's satelite station from every speaker indoors and out. I discovered I find his music insultingly, and mind-numbingly awful. I'm all for drunkin' good-time music but Jimmy Buffet is a hack.

Yeah, I said it. U2 has been getting the universal awesomeness award for WAY too long. I'm here to say that their music is garbage and Bono is NOT GOD. I appreciate the good work they claim to do, but let's stop treating Bono like he's a political figure. He's just another aging rocker mistaking fame for importance.

Oh Please. Enough Already. The commercial mileage accumulated from their few bubble-gum marketing hits is nausiating. Everything from Shrek to Pizza Hut has been the John to their musical prostitution. And does anyone actually like them? NO! It just so happens their crap is catchy and in-offensive, and it makes old white guys feel cool in the same way that Chumbawumba did.

-Counting Crows
Sure, there was a time I thought Adam Duritz was a genius. Their narcoleptic ramblings were great when I was a depressed teenager, but now it's just obnoxious. I even thought I still liked them until I kept skipping them on my streaming radio channel. Have you ever heard them live? Adam Duritz can't even carry his own tunes! "OOooohh...he's so experimental!" I hereby declare The Counting Crows over.

-The Greatful Dead
I've never had a use for the Dead. I didn't even have the energy to pretend to like them in high school. I respect the jam-band genre and their influence is much appreciated. But it's not for me.

-Elvis Costello
Please shoot me. I used to work at an office where Elvis Costello was on heavy rotation. And although I never paid him much mind before, I discovered that he's an absolutely wretched musician, with a horrible voice and lyrics that are no where near as brilliant as he thinks they are. To this day, I can't hear Elvis Costello without feeling the need to strangle someone.

Wow. Yes, a legendary rock band...who should have stopped recording in the 80's. At a certain point you become a characture of yourself. At this point their rock-balad formula is as tired as the bags under Steven Tyler's lips.

Other notable acts I find completely tedius include The Beatles and Elvis. Both are consistently ranked the #1 and 2 of all time, yet I find that their sound is completely intolerable. I respect them as historical figures in music, and often like their music when redone by another artist. But I can't stand listening to either artist's original recordings. But I do make a distinction between them and the previous artists mentioned because they more-or-less stopped making music before my skull fully hardened. Also in or near this category: The Beach Boys, The Who, The Stones (Yes I know they're still touring), The Eagles (Although I like hearing my father in law play their tunes), and Pink Floyd. Again, all have made a valid contribution to music but I can't stand listening to them.

The list really does go on and on.

*Disclaimer: I fully expect at least some of you to object to the preceding statements. I just don't care. These are just my opinions and you're entitled to your own.

July 21, 2008

How Not to Golf

Sarah and I went golfing yesterday at an undisclosed location with 3 other nefarious couples. The infamous eightsome was split by gender and generously lubricated with various cases of beer, home-made margaritas and a magnum of red wine. Light competition amongst the groups added a hint of legitimate effort that was both aided and nullified by the aforementioned open bar.

Aside from a few shining moments, our round was full of standard and inevitable tape-measure slices into the woods etc. usually associated with amateur play. What was extraordinary was that there were very few other golfers on the course at this hour and our behavior quickly deteriorated along the final stretch.

Group hijinks included but were not limited to:
• Heckling each other from tee box to green or vice versa
• Playing extra holes while only paying for 9
• Following up poor tee shots by hitting from the ladies' tees with your pants down (photo)
• Cursing, drinking, rough-housing and generally sophomoric behavior

But the true highlight of the evening came when the driver of my cart (who shall remain nameless since he's someone's grandfather) decided to break a land speed record upon returning to the clubhouse. He has a nifty trick to counteract the cart's speed governer, a built-in safety mechanism. On the many downhills of this mountainous course, he popped the cart into neutral, grinding some gears in the process but allowing the cart to reach ungodly speeds. At a certain point I think I suggested to watch out for the tee boxes, which at this speed resembled launch ramps Evil Knievil would envy. Of course he immediately pegged a tee box and drove diagonally off the side of it. At the base of the awkward incline was a railroad tie used as a curb for the cart path below. As the cart jumped the curb, the right wheels slammed to the ground sending me flailing out of the cart sliding across the paved path and into the grass bank. As I fell, I remember the cart teetering menacingly above me and threatening to roll on top of me. I rolled out of my slide for life, and watched the cart right itself but not without rocking back onto the left wheels for a split second. As the driver tried to regain control he veered sharply to avoid a log fence and almost ran straight into a tree. After regaining his composure, the driver circled back, utterly mortified and simply said "maybe you should drive."

(click image to view larger)

As we sheepishly approached the parking lot, the driver held his hand to his face in shame and embarassment while I laughed hysterically and bled from the wrist, forearm, knee and ankle. He appologized profusely to me and Sarah. I assured him that I could have just as easily procured the injuries biking, but this was a much better story.

July 13, 2008

Boston Wedding in Utah

Our friend Evan from Boston was recently married in Cambridge. Unfortunately we were not able to make the wedding but luckily his new bride, Christina had a significant amount of family in Utah who were also not able to make the ceremony. So they decided to have a separate celebration just down the road from us in Woodland, UT. We we were honored to attend and very excited to meet Evan and Christina ahead of time for a nice, mellow hike in the Uinta mountains.

As the morning progressed, we couldn't help but notice that Christina's maiden name, Kimball is one commonly associated with major landmarks in the Park City area (Kimball Junction, Kimball Arts Center, Kimball Arts Festival, etc.). She confirmed her ancestors were in fact, THOSE Kimballs. Furthermore, her Great-great-great-great Grandfather was actually HEBER C. Kimball, (one of the original twelve apostles in the early Mormon church) for whom our humble home town of Heber City is named. And her Great Grand Father was Spencer Woolley Kimball, the Prophet (President) of the LDS Church from 1973-1985.

So....yeah. That was interesting. Christina is no longer a practicing mormon, but seems very well loved and supported by her expansive Utah-based clan. Their celebration was held in a "barn" of all places in the overwhelmingly beautiful Wolf Creek Ranch of Woodland, UT. The sorrounding expanse of rolling, un-fenced ranch land is lightly sprinkled with mountain mansions, each built on a 168-acre lots with several miles of buffer to the nearest adjacent lot. The structures blend nicely into the enormous plateau above the Heber and Kamas valleys, allowing the distant mountainscapes to remain a focal point. Our brief entry into this gated community was enlightening and enjoyable. And we thank Evan, Christina and their families for the invitation.

June 14, 2008

Unexpected Friday Night

Joe and I were out road riding on Thursday night and on our way back on Main St. we saw that the new Indiana Jones movie was playing at the local theater. We were too late that night but decided we would go on Friday night. So last night we get home from work, cook dinner and then head out to the theater. It only has on screen so we just walked in, paid our money and took our seats. We sat through 20 minutes of trailers and ads before the feature film. The first scene is the New York skyline and I was kind of suspicious then the first name appears "Cameron Diaz" and I was like "I did not know she was in this movie" then the next name..."Ashton Kutcher" and we are like "f*ck this is the wrong movie". So we watched What Happens in Vegas. Yeah.

June 12, 2008

Trip to Europe

As many may know Joe and I have recently returned from two and a half weeks in Europe. We flew into Paris and stayed there for 5 days then took a sleeper train into Venice. From there we spent 4 days in Florence, including a day trip to Pisa, and then 5 days in Rome. It was in essence our honeymoon and like our wedding it went by too fast.

My grand plan was to have a separate blog for the trip outlining everything that we did but since I have been back I have had little time or motivation to do this. Since a pictures says a 1,000 words...I will let our photo gallery tell the story for now.
Enjoy the pictures and feel free to comment or email us!

May 5, 2008

New Office in Park City

Last week I moved into my new office space in Park City's Bear Hollow neighborhood, thus ending the "maybe I'll shower tomorrow" era of my career. I'm still working for FetchDog in Maine, but I now have the ability to work from home or "the office". Working from home had its benefits, but I missed some fundamental and highly underrated aspects of the daily grind.

I rarely left the house during the week. Although I had the freedom to work out or go for a bike ride after work, I rarely did. without the structure of a daily routine, I lacked the motivation to leave my cozy little house.

I had little to no social interaction. I loved having my dogs lay next to me all day, but they were horrible creative consultants and frankly their gas was unbearable.

I never actually LEFT work. Working in an office allows you to turn off your work-related stress (assuming you experience any) at the end of the day. Now I have a place to leave it at night.

Anyway, my new office is in an commercial building within a high-end residential complex beneath the ski jumps of Park City's Olympic Park. It's a mile or two down the road from the entrance to The Canyons resort and it's offers direct access to Park City's great mountain biking and other local activities. Plus, I'll actually be in town when someone says "hey, wanna go for a bike ride?" or "hey, wanna grab a drink?"

The space is a 10x12' room I'm subleasing from an interactive agency called Flashpoint. They all seem very nice and welcoming as they're letting me share their kitchen, conference room, wireless internet/utilities, and printers etc. I'm also sharing the space with my friend Max, who you may remember as my office-mate at American Skiing Company. Max works independently as a web designer and developer. Out my office window is a nice view of the dog courtyard, complete with poop-bag stations. So the dogs may come in on occasion if need be.

So here's hoping that this new development means more biking and more fun this summer.

April 28, 2008

Blogging? It runs in the Family

So my sister, Jessica has started building a Chiropractic Practice in Glen Arbor, MI. In recent weeks there has been some rush on brand identity and some kind of web presence. So I put together a quick site today for her and now she's already blogging! Check her out.

Swept Away in Tampa Bay

OK, I'm not panicking because I know the Sox' offense will start to click whenever it feels like it. But this weekend was a new low. Being swept in Tampa Bay only to hear Neal Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" played following the final out as a well-deserved taunting gesture was just cruel.

As part of a 5-game (for now) losing streak the Sox's bats took a nap on Sunday, flacidly watching Josh Beckett deliver one of the most dominating performances of the year with 13 strikeouts over 7 innings. His only real mistake was an errant pickoff attempt to first which allowed Jason Bartlett to score after another throwing error from J.D. Drew back to the infield. Other than Beckett, that the only Sox highlight was Manny Ramirez inexplicably stealing his first base since 2005, only to be stranded at second. After the game he was quoted as saying "It's a contract year, I'm stealing bases."

Saturday was a similar situation as the youngster, Clay Buchholz tossed a great start only to have the offense leave him out to dry. He may have also been left out too long by Terry Francona, since he was at one point flirting with a 1-hitter. But the 2-run homer he gave up to Akinori Iwamura came just as his pitch count approached 100. By then it was too late.

Anyway, I know things will get better. Lowell's coming back this week from his thumb injury, Papi will hopefully sacrifice a live chicken to lift the hex from his bat, and Manny will be continue to be Manny. So I'm not panicking. But for now it's annoying.

April 27, 2008

Ban Comic Sans

Those who know me as a designer know that there's one surefire way to make me cringe: Mention the font known as "Comic Sans". This horrible font was designed by Microsoft as an attempt to humanize and perhaps hip-up their characterless operating system and software. In fact, it has done the opposite by proving that they just don't get it. This font is atrocious, yet its wide availability especially in the context of Microsoft's banal alternatives has granted it's prevalent abuse from do-it-yourself-ers and anyone with a PC.

My position may sound elitist, but I can assure you that I have your own best interests at heart. The font was originally designed to be whimsical, a more personal alternative to more traditional old-style serifs (Times new Roman or better yet, Goudy) and Sans Serifs (Arial or better yet, Helvetica). Instead its childishness undermines any credibility of its user's intentions and essentially makes them look stupid. There, I said it.

Take for example, this passage from a recent spam email I received...Would you ever fall for this? I hope not. Would it somehow seem more credible if it were written in a more professional font? Perhaps.

Anyway, although I believe I developed my contempt for Comic Sans on my own, It's always nice to have validation by like-minded people. So here you go. Leading the movement against Comic Sans is this organization:

April 21, 2008

FetchDog comes to Utah

This Winter, FetchDog investors David Shaw and Glenn Close came to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. Sarah and I were fortunate enough to meet them at the Egyptian Theatre and then to ski with them at Sundance Resort for Sarah's birthday. While riding the lift with Glenn, Sarah and I suggested that she should feature Sundance Ski Patroller Tracy Christensen on her Lively Licks Blog. Tracy is a great patroller but he's also the handler of Mick, one of Sundance's Avalanche Rescue Dogs. We explained the important role that Avy dogs play at Utah's ski resorts and how sophisticated their training is. We also encouraged her to participate in Mick's training by allowing herself to be buried in a fake avalanche to let Mick show off his talents. She was of course completely game, and went along with the idea.

Upon meeting Tracy and Mick, Glenn was immediately impressed and couldn't wait to feature them on FetchDog. She also had her step-son Ben shoot some video for the blog post which is now live at FetchDog. The video shows Glenn and David being buried into the snow at Sundance and waiting for Mick to rescue them in a very realistic simulation.

You'll also be able to make a donation to Sundance Avalanche Rescue Dogs in Tracy's Charitable Shop. Just start your shopping with Tracy's recommendations and a percentage of sales (of those items or not) go to benefit Sundance's Avalanche Rescue Dogs and their vital training.
Check it out!

April 1, 2008

Pond-skimming, Utah Style

Saturday was one of those perfect spring days. As the afternoon festivities approached at the Canyons, the place just got sunnier and warmer. When Sarah and I showed up at the contestant area, we bumped into our buddy, Chris Petty who hooked us up with VIP passes for the winners circle. We hung out for a bit and caught up with Canyons locals, but once the event kicked off we were totally focussed on mayhem and nonsense. The crowd was thick and costumes were intense. Have a look.

We were also psyched to hook up with our friends, Chris, Richie, Max, Liz, Regina, Ahdena, Eddie, Brian, and Katie. But what really sucked is that after the "festivities" I was left with the most ridiculous sunburn. My forehead immediately blistered up and started weeping by Sunday night. But I deserve it for not remembering my sunblock! D'OH!

March 25, 2008

WHOAH, This Just In: Discrete Earns Adobe Site of the Day!!

WOW! Just as I was writing the last post I got word from Adobe that they've elected to feature as tomorrow's site of the day. Check it out!

This is my 4th site of the Day from graphics industry standard software developer, Adobe. It's always an honor since I check their showcase every morning for inspiration. My previous winning submissions were Northeastern University's "Discover Northeastern Flash Tour", Sunday River's Interactive Golf Course Tour, and American Skiing Company's

Discrete Earns Cool Home Pages Award

Again, it's not a big deal. But once in a while it's nice for a designer's ego to know that colleagues think you're doing something right. Discrete is a site I did a while back for Utah-based freeskier, Julian Carr. Julian and the late Billy Poole founded Discrete Sport, an enigmatic, ski inspired headwear brand focussed on the individualistic lifestyle-oriented pursuit of Newtonian research. That's long-hand for the fact that they love to jump off stuff. Billy, who recently gave his life to this pursuit, is remembered by the big-mountain skiing community on this site and others around the industry.

You can also vote for this site's recognition at

or vote for Fetchdog and/or (please).

March 3, 2008

The Circus Comes to Town

This weekend was a blast from the past as a bunch of my old high school buddies converged on Salt Lake from across the country. The occasion was Chad Knowles' Bachelor Party. Two ski condos in Sandy played host to several Berwickians (Chad, Peter Clarke, Tom Beattie, Brett Richer, Chris Knowles and Pat Knowles) and various other really cool guys from Middlebury and Vail — about 14 guys in all, armed with alcohol, testosterone, and a raging passion for powder. They were here to ski hard and party harder. One theme of the weekend was their creative facial hair competition, the winner of which is anybody's guess. They also spent some quality time in a dirty hot tub which I dubbed "New England Man Chowder".

I met up with the crew Friday night as they were already well on their way to long night. I decided it might be best to crash on a spare futon downstairs, much to Tom Beattie's dismay as I snored him out of the room. The next day, we hit Snowbird for some great turns despite less than ideal snow conditions following 5 straight sunny days (yuck). The group of guys turned out to be pretty hard core and the pace was intense. That night, it was straight back to partying. I'll leave it at that. But I managed to sneak back to Patty and Gary's house for a much needed night of sleep.

Sunday morning — POW! The forecast was conservative, calling for perhaps up to 8 inches. Instead, we woke up to about 16 inches of fresh Utah powder. The group was ready by 6:30 am. From the first chair it was an epic day. There was hooting and hollering all over the mountain, and the large group quickly dispersed, invoking the "No friends on a powder day" rule. But Pete Clarke, one of my oldest friends in the world stuck with Sarah and me. I didn't grow up skiing, so it's a relatively new form of bonding for these two boys from Epping, NH. It was great catching up with Pete and charging fresh lines with him. We even egged each other on to huck a cliff or two.

Overall it was a fantastic weekend and I'm just glad no one was seriously hurt. Good times.