David Letterman’s Frack You To Fracking

Fracking is, by now, old, terrifying news.

Grassroots efforts to combat fracking have been struggling mightily and losing frequently, but when a mainstream media legend like David Letterman takes a stand on his show, watched by millions, perhaps the tide is turning.

Thanks, Dave!

And folks, please consider clicking on the “Stop Fracking Now” graphic below and adding your name to this nationwide petition.

fracking

Random Logo Puzzlement

So, I was sitting on an interview panel this morning, the third interview for the position we’re currently trying to hire for, and before me was a clipboard that I’ve been using, not only for each interview, but off and on for a good 5-6 years, and for the first time after all that usage I noticed the logo of the company, Charles Leonard, Inc., from whom the clipboard was purchased, who knows how long ago:

clipboard

And I thought to myself, “What the HELL is that?!”

Seriously, it seemed to be made up of three elements, none of which were immediately identifiable, from the top down:

  1. some kind of vaguely gun-shaped thingy?
  2. a kitchen measuring tablespoon?
  3. a very flat shoe?

…and, certainly, nothing really resembled anything related to office products.

By the time my lunch break rolled around I knew I wanted to blog about this, and I couldn’t wait to do some research. My blog post, I was sure, would be all about how the logo fails, how a logo should decidedly NOT be puzzling, that a company’s brand should be immediately recognizable and tightly associated with the company’s business.

And so, my first stop was Google Image Search, where I found this Charles Leonard logo:

charles_leonard

Now, regardless of whether or not a trained graphic designer (which I’m not) would consider this a good logo, or even whether or not anyone would find this aesthetically pleasing, it IS abundantly clear what it is: CLI = Charles Leonard, Inc.

But then, a funny thing happened.

As I was pulling together the two versions of the logo for this post — taking a photo of the clipboard and editing it, downloading the other version, looking at them closely, comparing them — I suddenly and shockingly noticed something best displayed with my embarrassingly rudimentary Photoshop skills:

clipboard2

I’ll wait as you scroll up and down and it all sinks in.

I happen to have some experience with logo design, having served on several committees charged with developing new logos, and one of the things we always included in our development process was a stipulation that the final design must work well in a variety of applications: in print, on the web, on t-shirts, with one color, grayscale, or multi-color. And so, in this very narrow regard, and with the aforementioned need for the logo to be immediately obvious as to what it says and is, you could determine that the clipboard application of the CLI logo failed…

…OR…you could say that it’s a VERY cool optical illusion!

As with most optical illusions, once you’ve figured out the trick being played on the eye you’ll never NOT notice it again. Check it out. Scroll up now and look at the first photo of the clipboard and you will not be able to miss the “CLI”.

So, ultimately, is it a successful logo?

Well, it got me to spend a good half hour of my lunch break thinking about Charles Leonard, Inc., something I never saw coming.

Therefore, I’d have to answer with a resounding, “Yes!”

I’m A Guy, And I’m Wearing Beer

So, I’m a guy and I went to buy an aluminum-free deodorant and came across this:

toms-deodorant-front

Then I turned the deodorant around to read the back and I found this label:

toms-deodorant-back

I can just picture the scene around the conference table at the Tom’s of Maine marketing meeting:

Director of Marketing: Ok people, listen up, especially you guys. We’re having a hard time moving our men’s deodorant. Sales continue to decline, and so I need to hear ideas and solutions!

Larry & Ed, what does our market research tell us?

Larry: Well, on the bright side, we do have the name “Tom” in our brand name, which is considered by 97% of those surveyed to be a sufficiently male name.

Ed: And, when you consider that we have the “Tom’s of Maine” brand name on all of our products, including those for women…

Director of Marketing: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, I know. We were founded by a guy name Tom and he’s from Maine. What else positive can you tell me.

Ed & Larry: Um, nothing, sir.

Donna: Director, if I might, the problem isn’t our name on its own. Rather, it has to do with our name in comparison to the names of our competitors. Our research shows that brands with names like “Speed Stick”, “Gillette”, “Right Guard”, “Axe” or “Old Spice” conjure images of tough, edgy, macho men, whereas “Tom’s of Maine” conjures up some hippie guy walking in the woods.

Larry: I’ve got it!

Director of Marketing: Wellllllllllllll?!!

Larry: What do guys love more than anything else?

Director & Ed: Beer?

Larry: RIGHT! So, we put beer in our deodorant…or…um…rather, we put hops in our deodorant. You see, hops smell like beer, a manly smell, so that when men sweat it will seem like they just came from the brewpub, a manly place to hang out, and even though the Wikipedia page on hops says nothing about hops having odor-fighting properties, it does say that hops are used as a natural treatment for anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia, and so guys who wear our deodorant will be so mellow and relaxed that they won’t care!

Director of Marketing: Brilliant!!!

Needless to say, I bought the beer deodorant.

Day 1: Not working very well, but I am craving an ice cold India Pale Ale.

Bellingham’s Coal Train Blues: An Open Letter To Bellingham Mayor, Kelli Linville

Coal_TrainIn this latest addition to my continuing series of posts on the battle, here in my beloved Bellingham, Washington, over a proposed coal shipping terminal just north of town, some great Earth Day news on the subject prompted me to write to Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville, to implore her to take a stand.


Dear Mayor Linville,

It was with tremendous pride in our beloved Pacific Northwest that I learned of the Earth Day announcement yesterday by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn concerning the newly-formed Leadership Alliance Against Coal.

The time is now, Mayor Linville, for you to take a stand against coal and join this coalition.

I appreciate that, up until now, you’ve been taking a cautious approach to the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project, careful, as of course you would and should be, not to be too hasty in opposing a project that could bring some badly-needed family wage jobs and tax revenue to the county.

However, members of the Bellingham community, your constituents, through groups like ReSources for Sustainable Communities and CommunityWise Bellingham have done a fantastic job researching the possible local and regional impacts of the GPT, and there’s more than enough evidence out there already, even before the EIS scoping is determined, to see that the terminal would be a disaster, both environmentally and economically, for Whatcom County, Bellingham, and the region.

And now you see, from this new alliance of regional leaders and tribes, as well as from the fact that the overwhelming majority of comments received during the scoping process were in opposition to the GPT:

via TheNorthernLight.com (emphasis in bold added):

The report categorizes comments based on where and how they were received as well as by their issue of concern. Of the 124,889 comments, 108,995 were received as signatures on bulk form letters from various groups in support or opposed to the project, 1,207 were verbal comments submitted during scoping meetings and 14,687 were submitted individually in writing.

…and finally from recent reports that the demand for coal from China is on the decline, as they make massive investment in renewables, that there is a groundswell and momentum, a perfect time for you to announce that you’ve had time to consider all of the implications of the GPT and have decided to join the Leadership Alliance Against Coal.

Again, I appreciate your leadership and your initial decision to not rush into a stance on the coal terminal. But, Bellingham has become nationally-known for our community’s commitment to sustainability, and the GPT project is entirely antithetical to Bellingham’s hard-earned reputation and proud identity.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tweet of the Day: #NoXL

Can’t think of a better tweet for today’s Earth Day Edition of Tweet of the Day than the following.

On this last day to submit comments to the US State Department, please consider adding your voice to the widespread opposition to this horribly destructive project.

Upcycling: Iris’ Recycled Skateboard

back-to-the-futureRemember that scene from the 1985 movie Back to the Future, where Marty McFly, in a panic to get away from a gang of thugs in pursuit, “borrows” a scooter from a kid, rips the crate/handlebar assembly from the platform, and gets away on what appears to be the first skateboard any of the onlookers have ever seen?

Well, that’s one unique way to make a skateboard, and now George Rocha at Iris Skateboards in San Francisco has come up with another method, one that is supremely satisfying from a sustainability, reduce-reuse-recycle perspective:

iris_skateboardVia Wired.com:

George Rocha turned his life-long skateboarding passion into a career of building massive concrete skateparks. Now he’s added another product to his repertoire: artisan-quality wooden skateboards assembled from strips of used and broken boards.

Modern skateboards are made of plywood. It gives them both strength and flexibility — the perpendicular placement of each wooden layer helps the overall board withstand cracks, while the complex curvatures are made possible by pressing the individually pliable sheets of wood into a mold while being glued. As plywood decks became the norm, manufacturers began to color layers to add a visual element. Strips of red, blue, yellow, pink or various combinations could be found between the light hues of natural wood, with splashy graphics on the board’s bottoms and black grip tape on top, sometimes cut into artistic patterns.

Rocha assembles new decks using the remnants of broken and discarded skateboards, laminating them together and slicing the resulting stack sideways to create his material. The result is gorgeous and always unique, turning the distinct patterning of the thin multicolored ply into the standout feature of the decks’ tops and bottoms.

Rocha also uses ground recycled glass to create a course traction surface for the top of the deck.

Check out this cool video, showing how the boards are made.

Bellingham’s Coal Train Blues: Coal Kills

Coal_TrainHere’s just a brief addition to my ongoing series of posts on the ongoing battle here in Bellingham, Washington, Whatcom County, over a proposed coal shipping terminal.

In my last post on the subject, I mentioned that we’re in a holding pattern, waiting for the local, state and federal oversight agencies to determine the scope of the study of environmental impacts (Environmental Impact Statement, aka EIS) that must be completed before the project is approved or denied.

The big money behind the project — the coal mining companies, the railroad, and the company that will build and operate the shipping terminal — as well as the proponents of the terminal, seduced by a promise of jobs and new tax revenues, would like the scope of the EIS to be limited to the site of the terminal and the impacts on the property alone.

It’s an outrageous attempt to ignore the very real, devastating impacts of continuing to mine coal, to ship it in uncovered trains halfway across the country by rail, releasing toxic coal dust into the air of every community along the route, sending it halfway around the world in ships that can and do spill, and then burning it and releasing toxic smoke into the air and greenhouse gases into the already dangerously carbonated atmosphere.

Appropriate, then, to post the following video of Bellingham treasure Mike Marker, singer/songwriter, activist, and educator, performing a beautiful version of the gut-wrenching Stanley Brothers song Dream of the Coal Miner’s Child, a stark reminder of coal’s long history of tragic impact on humans.

The Music Business’ 1%

buskerSo, I saw this headline on PasteMagazine.com, and I was like, “WTF?! This guy is EVERYWHERE right now!”

The CW to Air Justin Timberlake’s Album Release Party

And then I read on, and, yeah, he’s EVERYWHERE right now!

Justin Timberlake, who recently hosted another highly rated SNL episode and is in the middle of his weeklong guest appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, is keeping the TV ball rolling.

According to Deadline, Target will present “The IHeartRadio Album Release Party With Justin Timberlake” on the CW.

The special will be an hour-long TV event including performances and interviews with Timberlake in an effort to promote his upcoming album, The 20/20 Experience.

Now, usually when I think about economic inequality I think of corporations and corporate executives as the overly-privileged 1%.

Yet, even though it’s always been the case that a relatively select few musical artists rise to the level of superstar, it didn’t really hit me until just now the extent to which the current state of the music business resembles the 1% vs. 99% economic inequality problem.

99% of musical artists either don’t make a living from the music they make, barely get by on the music they make, or struggle to sustain any ounce of success they do manage to achieve, often slipping back down the ladder or giving up on music entirely, and they all work their asses off!

Enter Justin Timberlake, who is already a mega-mega-megastar, many, many, many times over a millionaire, and when he comes out with a new album, he’s automatically gonna make many, many, many more millions by merely releasing the album on iTunes, Amazon, etc. and circulating a press release to announce its arrival.

But no, that’s not enough. He gets to appear on Saturday Night Live and has a week-long residency on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and an hour-long infomercial!

Meanwhile, a good friend of mine, like millions of other musicians, is straining his marriage and his family’s expenses to pull off a brief regional tour of tiny, tiny venues in order to promote his album, with absolutely no support from a record company. He will likely spend more money on transportation, lodging, food and other expenses than he’ll make at the gigs, all in the hope that people will like his music and maybe, just maybe, buy his album and spread his name around, and it breaks my heart that, in the vast, vast majority of cases, not even that will happen.

It’s ridiculously unfair and it pisses me off!

(Disclaimer: Yes, I know that this is also the case for the arts in general, and the same could be said for athletics as well, but since I’m a musician, this is what struck me today.)

Is That An Ice Pack In Your Underwear, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

snowballsMale infertility is a serious issue, accounting for 40% of all infertility cases.

So, you might think that it’s rather insensitive of me, via the title of this post, to joke about the new fertility-enhancement-through-refrigeration underwear by Procreativity.

But, when you consider that the folks at Procreativity have actually branded their product with the name Snowballs, you can see that they have already beaten me to the punch.

Via Mashable:

Snowballs creator Joshua Shoemake had trouble in the “fertility factory” with his wife. Too many appointments and too much money spent were taking its toll. A friend going through a similar situation was told to put some ice down below, since elevated scrotal temperature can be a major cause of infertility.

After icing for a year, Shoemake’s friend became father to a baby girl. Inspired by the idea, the two believed they could find a way to “hack fertility.”…

The specially designed underwear include SnowWedges for cooling. The wedges mold to the body and use a freezable, non-toxic gel to maintain a comfortable temperature for 30 minutes.

I think that their preemptive use of humor in naming the underwear Snowballs and the video below is brilliant marketing, recognizing that, people being people, jokes would be predictable.

And, while I shiver at the thought of ice in my underwear, having had personal experience with procreation and the incredible joy of being a parent, I can’t help hope that this product can make that experience possible for more men who want it.

Bellingham’s Coal Train Blues: China, Please Hurry Up!

Coal_TrainIt’s been over a year since I last wrote about the ongoing battle over coal happening here in the Pacific Northwest, where efforts are underway to build multiple shipping terminals to send millions of tons of coal to China, with one of the terminals proposed here, at a site just north of my Bellingham, Washington home.

Ironically, and perhaps fortuitously for us here in Bellingham (via Bloomberg.com):

China Drives Record Solar Growth Becoming Biggest Market

The $77 billion solar-energy industry is forecast to expand the most since 2011, as China becomes the biggest market for the first time and drives annual global installations to a record…

China, after building scores of factories that helped cut panel prices 20 percent in the past year, is poised to become the biggest consumer of the devices after doubling its 2013 target for new projects in January…

China, the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, is forecast to unseat Germany as the largest solar market in 2013… Projects have multiplied as the nation provides financial support to its solar companies in a bid to diversify the coal-dependent energy industry.

The Chinese government expects 10 gigawatts of new solar projects in 2013, more than double its previous target and three times last year’s expansion.

Tripling their solar implementation in one year! THAT is good news, whether your hometown is threatened by coal or not.

The latest on the proposed shipping terminal: The backers of the project, SSA Marine and Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad, will have to conduct a thorough study of environmental impacts, resulting in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that they will have to submit to the local, state, and federal government agencies (aka Co-Lead agencies) overseeing the project. The Co-Lead agencies will study the EIS and either approve or reject the building of the terminal. The scoping of the EIS — identifying exactly what impacts must be studied and reported on — was recently conducted, via a series of statewide public hearings and an open comment period. 124,000 comments were submitted.

It’s unclear how long it will take for the government agencies to review all of the comments and to announce the scope of the EIS, but it is estimated that the EIS will likely take two or more years to complete.

So, wouldn’t it be nice if China’s rush to liberate itself from its coal dependency resulted in a severe enough decline in demand that the building of the shipping terminal would ultimately be cost-ineffective?

One can hope, can’t one?