Monthly Archives: February 2007

The Hotel/Motel Horror Genre Returns!

Apparently Hollywood thinks that Hitchcock’s classic, Psycho, is ancient history now so the genre of hotel/motel horror is prime for a revival. First we have a Stephen King story starring John Cusack stuck in a haunted hotel room number 1408. Ooooo… looks like pretty much every other haunted/ghost/hallucination movie that I’ve avoided seeing in the past 5 years, but with Samuel L. Jackson. Next up we’ve got the standard Psycho setup of a young couple stopping at a motel just off the freeway in the film Vacancy, starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsdale. So, instead of one psycho-killer we have a team of psycho-killers? Original!

C’mon, there’s gotta be something better out there. Maybe Saw VIII will take place at a time-share.

1980’s GI Joe and WWF Birthday Party Napkins

Every year for Valentine’s Day, my mother still sends me a little package of chocolates and a card (love you, Mom!). This year she included a little something else. She found these while cleaning out some old drawers around the house, amidst some other party supplies. What a blast from the past…

WWF Party Napkin GI Joe Party Napkin

My favorite part of the WWF napkins (aside from Hulk Hogan looking a little like Sloth from The Goonies), is the fact that everything has a “TM” on it. WWF™, Junk Yard Dog™, Iron Sheik™…

And there’s G.I. Joe. Like almost any boy growing up in the 80’s, I loved G.I. Joe. Friends and I would set up epic battles in the yard and when that got tiring, we’d play the classic game of throw a figure up in the air and compete for the most painful-looking landing. The fine print in the corner of the napkins says “© 1986″ which is probably right in the middle of the 3-5 years I was in that phase. Sergeant Slaughter wasn’t one of my favorites (Storm Shadow v2 all the way!), but it’s hard to deny the impact of a “USA” tank-top and a guy with a whistle.

How do you describe what you do?

This is an actual conversation I’ve had a couple times:

Them: “What do you do for work?”
Me: “I’m a Program Manager at a web company.”
Them: “Oh, so you’re a Manager.”
Me: “No, not exactly.”
Them: “Then you’re a Programmer.”
Me: “Not exactly. I’m actually more like a…”

At that point I’d often try a variety of metaphors, none of which really conveyed the true sense of what I did (nor were they all that glamorous), “translator”, “middleman”, “interface”, “coordinator”. Somewhat sadly, “middleman” is probably the closest. I’m in between the business folk and the tech folk and I make sure they both understand each other. And then sometimes I throw in the exciting point that I write documentation to achieve this communication from the business to the engineers. I “manage” the “program”. I always hated saying that, but it’s true. We wrangle all the folk together, make sure they’re talking, sticking to the things that the business requested, and figuring out how it’ll all fit with the way the website/product/whatever currently exists. Of course the roles can be drastically different depending on where you are. And that’s without even throwing in the other PMs; Product Management, and Project Management.

And now I have to figure out a whole new awkward spiel about what I do, when I now say, “I’m an Information Architect”. I’ll babble about how it’s organizing the information, and features in a product to best fit the user’s needs, and how it involves user research, testing, and getting inside the mind of the user. I’ll have to borrow some of the explanation from the good Wikipedia entry on Information Architecture. I may not even need a metaphor for what I do, since a pretty good one is already in the title; “Architect.” Reversing the title in the same way and saying that I “architect” the “information” is pretty close to it. But for the sake of confusion, try sorting out the fuzzy lines between: Interaction Design, Interface Design, Product Design, Experience Design, User Experience Design, Usability Engineer and Information Architecture.

There are plenty of common cross-industry jobs that are much easier to understand. A Sales-person is a Sales-person. A General Manager is a General Manager. An Accountant is an Accountant.
Do you find yourself in a position where it’s tough to explain? How does the conversation usually go? Any good metaphors?

Overheard legal action

Snippet from an overheard cell phone conversation on a sidewalk downtown:

“…well you know I’d much rather sue them than Washington…”

Making the world a better place, one lawsuit at a time. I wish I’d listened a little closer, because this guy just kept going.

Thoughts on the Olympic Sculpture Park

I finally made it down to the Olympic Sculpture Park this past weekend. It was still quite crowded 3 weeks after opening, but not nearly the mess it was on opening weekend. The setting is quite impressive for what it is. There’s plenty of well-landscaped space, and you hardly notice the busy Elliott Ave running right underneath you.

On the downside, the only real view from the park is looking West and a bit South, and while it’s a really great view of the sound and the Olympic Mountains, every other direction is a massive block of trendy new condominiums. That’s just what you get in Belltown. The Space Needle is visible in a few places, but is mostly obscured by the buildings. On the Western-most side of the park, you can look South all the way along the train tracks to Pioneer Square, which is pretty cool.

The sculpture itself was presented really well, except for the flourescent blue signage that was everywhere, asking people not to touch anything. The signs were a more common conversation topic than some of the art. And people were still touching everything. I’m a big fan of Alexander Calder, so his Eagle was a favorite, along with Richard Serra’s Wake. I do miss having the Calder right in my neighborhood in Volunteer Park, but the new location is a bit more fitting.

I look forward to heading back on a sunnier day, and catching some sunsets from the park. And for now I’ve got a small set of photos that most everyone gets from walking around the park:

Olympic Sculpture Park

Super Sunday Strings

It’s been a while since I’ve written much here (Alert! Blog cliche #1: Blogging about not blogging. Blog.) So let’s get back into things with some long overdue search strings. In the past few months, here’s what we’ve got.

bowling team names – January was my record month for this string. It’s now my top search bringing people here, and my site has moved up to the #2 result. Add your team names to the list!
gila monster – I’ve seen this string rising in my stats over the past few months, but I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I’m not on the first pages of web results or image results for Google or Yahoo. Hmmm…
indie haircuts – This is another rising string in the past couple months, but again puzzling since I’ve fallen out of the first few pages of results. Google’s been playing with their ranking a bunch, so I’ll chalk it up to that.

The less common and just plain weird strings have included…

tall man drawing
chris chase bowhunter – Coming soon to theaters
duluth duluth duluth is on fire
guns and espresso – Failed business idea #672
how many monkeys does it take – A lot more than you think
italian language will you go out with me
list of movies with monkeys
the cougar drink like my women on the rocks – I don’t even know
eat cheerios if you are gay – Now I’m really confused
what is a d-list celebrity – Pauly Shore?
is email instantaneous – NO!
mr potato head rhinestones
music rounds for kindergarteners – Row Your Boat, Freire Jacques…
xtreme 2006 – Totally

Almost time for the big game. Enjoy! Gooo… advertising!