Untethered

Big Sur, CA

Big Sur, California. Hiking alone near my unofficial campsite in the national forest. As the sun set, I couldn’t help but voice my reaction to the majestic beauty before me. It’s so beautiful there.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve chosen poorly. If I should stay inside an air conditioned cage, play the little game they want me to play, and quit dreaming of more. Live a normal life.

But then I experience beauty such as this. I experience it untethered from the weight of that other life. I bear witness to the ocean meeting the land and being embraced by the warmth of the setting sun. And I decide that it was worth trading a little comfort for moments like this.

1962 VW Baja Bug Road Trip

baja

I’m driving cross country in a 1962 VW Baja Bug! I left Austin this morning and am headed to OK, CO, UT, NV, and CA for sure. Open to detours and haven’t planned the return trip yet. Give me a shout if you’re going to be along my route and let’s meet up! I’ll be posting updates to Instagram: http://instagram.com/wroman.

Bumping the Lamp: Why Attention to Detail Matters

rogerrabbit

In the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” there’s a scene in a dark room where Roger Rabbit (an animated character) flies across the room, knocks a hanging lamp around, and the lighting becomes so dynamic that all the shadows move around including the animated character’s shadow. Here’s the scene in question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EUPwsD64GI

This was such a small detail that it would have been forgivable if the animators had left it out entirely: if they had not moved the lamp, kept the shadow steady, no one would have really noticed the difference. It would have been 100 times easier to animate and the effect wouldn’t really have been that different.

But they did it anyway. The term was later coined, and “bump the lamp” is used throughout Disney (and probably other organizations) to mean something akin to “go the extra mile”—but I see it as having a special significance to design.
You’re right, most people won’t notice. By that logic, you could cut corners a lot of other places too. You could be lax about button colors matching exactly, or per-pixel sharpness on the map and buttons. No one would probably notice.

But if you go for every detail like it was the most important detail, you have the possibility of reaching a level of design quality that is superlative, and some people will notice. Others will not notice directly, but will see that the piece exudes style and quality subconsciously, due to the attention to small details. If you carry this into other areas of your work—programming, customer service, market strategy, marketing, and more—then you have a chance to create something of true quality.

If you don’t pay attention to detail at that level, well, you might have the chance to actually get something done. Yes, it’s a balance, like everything else. But you have to know that it won’t be quite as good, and understand that yes, you are sacrificing something, even if you can’t see it.

Source: calinet6 on Hacker News

Why I’m doing this thing

DCIM100GOPRO

I’m not good at explaining why I do things.

Sometimes I use extreme analogies. Sometimes words just keep running out of my mouth. Running like a thousand marathoners who don’t know where they’re going, but have to get there quickly. It’s exhausting. And the next day I decide that whatever reason I gave wasn’t true at all. I don’t know why. I’m not good at explaining.

So I usually don’t say anything at all. And then I act.

Last year I quit my girlfriend. Then I broke up with my job. Then I got rid of most of my stuff. And then I drove into Mexico.

I had a good reason. I’m sure of it. But I wasn’t able to explain it to anyone. I just decided I didn’t want to put up with the everyday bullshit any more.

Every day I couldn’t wake up. I needed just a few more minutes. Then a few more. My snooze button broke off.

Every day steel and concrete and glass kept me separated from nature. Suffocating. Am I exaggerating? Probably. But that’s how I felt.

Every day my brain was used to add to a hulking system that helped another hulking system squeeze another dollar out of an even larger hulking system that was squeezing dollars out of you and me. Nobody created. We all just squeezed.

Every day my time went to someone else. And to someone else’s dream. And to fill someone else’s else’s bank account. And my heart was empty.

Then I looked forward… and every day in the future from 7am till 7pm I would either be getting ready for work, going to work, at work, or coming home from work. And then I’d email about work and call about work and think about work. Every day. For most of my life.

So I quit. I broke up. I got rid. I drove.

And after a few months I turned around and came back. But I didn’t go back. I went forward, by coming back. Or something like that.

Now I’m trying to make it on my own. But by “on my own,” I mean with the help of so many people. People that I didn’t allow to help me before. I’m talking to my friends. I’m talking to professionals. I’m talking to you.

They are helping me create something that helps other people. Or least doesn’t hurt them. I replaced the hulking systems with human persons.

Will it work? I don’t know. Maybe I can make something work. Maybe not. But at least I tried.

I’m just trying to explain why I’m doing this thing.

Humble WP

Humble WP
Last week I quietly pushed live a new project. If you’ve ever gotten frustrated working with a WordPress site, then you’ll appreciate this.

Visit HumbleWP.com

Do.

dream-do
I acquired some inks and have been learning to manipulate them with a brush. Here is the result of my first project.

Volunteering on the Texas Border

All day immigrants pass through the doors of Sacred Heart church with no physical belongings beyond the clothes on their backs. They come from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and elsewhere in Latin America. Here they are received with open arms, given clothing, a chance to shower, legal advice, sometimes a night’s rest, a knapsack of food, and a bus ticket to destinations all over the United States.

Young mothers and children make up the vast majority. Beautiful and polite, meeting them feels like being introduced to a new neighbor. Their eyes reveal great anguish, fear, uncertainty, yet also sparkle with determination, hope, and an indomitable spirit.

That spirit. It saturates the entire building and lingers hours after the last refugee has passed through. It overcomes trauma and exhaustion with an overwhelming optimism. And when one of the children pulls your pant leg and laughs, or an expectant mother thanks you with a trusting smile, that spirit grabs hold of your heart and bursts it.

As my friend Broderick Greer said, being here doesn’t make us especially compassionate or noteworthy people. It just makes us people.

These are the courageous ones.

Work and Boredom

Work and boredom. — Looking for work in order to be paid; in civilized countries today almost all men are at one in doing that. For all of them work is a means and not an end in itself. Hence they are not very refined in their choice of work, if only it pays well. But there are, if only rarely, men who would rather perish than work without any pleasure in their work. They are choosy, hard to satisfy, and do not care for ample rewards. Artists and contemplative men of all kinds belong to this rare breed, but so do even those men of leisure who spend their lives hunting, traveling, or in love affairs and adventures. All of these desire work and misery if only it is associated with pleasure, and the hardest, most difficult work if necessary. Otherwise, their idleness is resolute, even if it spells impoverishment, dishonor, and danger to life and limb. They do not fear boredom as much as work without pleasure; they actually require a lot of boredom if their work is to succeed. For thinkers and all sensitive spirits, boredom is that disagreeable “windless calm” of the soul that precedes a happy voyage and cheerful winds. They have to bear it and must wait for its effect on them. Precisely this is what lesser natures cannot achieve by any means. To ward off boredom at any cost is vulgar, no less than work without pleasure.

From The Gay Science, by Friedrich Nietzsche