The Design of Everyday Things

I shamelessly poached the title of this post from a book I’m reading for professional development: The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman. I don’t include books I read for anything other than pleasure in my semi-annual book reports, but product and user experience design has been so much on my mind lately that I felt compelled to write about it. This is especially because when I encounter bad design in the real world, there’s generally no one I can provide my feedback to who has any level of influence. Not that anyone reading this blog has influence over any of these issues either, but I feel better writing out my frustration. Here are a few user-unfriendly experiences I’ve had this year. Continue reading →

When in the Flat Tops Wilderness

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
– At Blackwater Pond, Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver’s last two lines can perfectly express the entirety of my feelings about the weekend I just spent in the Flat Tops Wilderness, but she can’t describe the place to you if weren’t there. Here is my attempt.  Continue reading →

One Date, Two Date, Last Date, New Date

During the last two months, I’ve found myself undecided at the end of many first dates. This isn’t normal for me. I’m generally a clear yes or no, and I tell the guy exactly what I’m thinking. But lately I’ve been giving guys second and third dates because I haven’t been sure of my feelings, which, as I should know about myself by now, actually means I’m not interested. If I don’t have an overwhelming “wow” feeling at the end of date one, it really is a waste of my time to go on more dates because that feeling won’t magically appear. And yet, I’ve been doing it anyway because a lot my dates were really great guys I wanted to like. Continue reading →

Am I a “Runner”?

In 2013, I griped when my then-partner wanted us to run the mile to the gym and back for our workouts rather than drive. In 2014, I participated in my first 5k. I brought my dog, who is not built for running, so I’d have an excuse for stopping frequently as he pooped, sniffed, and played in the kiddie pool. In 2015, I agreed to the four-mile leg of a marathon relay team, chosen because it was the shortest leg and largely downhill. Then I signed up for the Bolder Boulder 10k in 2016. I walked parts of it because I had mentally convinced myself I couldn’t jog that whole distance. My pace was 12:12. In 2017, I started going to running clubs regularly and increased my Bolder Boulder pace to 10:27. This year, I ran a 9:23 pace in my first half marathon and then an 8:55 pace in the Bolder Boulder a month later. Continue reading →

Guess Who, Boulder Edition

At one of the numerous happy hours my company has hosted for its employees this year, my teammates and I stood by a fence, surveying the array of pale, hirsute faces. The scene prompted one of my coworkers (who is also white and bearded) to point out that our office is a real life game of Guess Who. Remember that game? Twenty-four faces on the game board, most of them white men? Your first question was always “Is your person a man?” and your next was “Is the person white?” If your secret person was one of the only four women, the only black person, or one of the other three people of indeterminate ethnicity, you were setting yourself up to lose. You always had to choose a white man.

Continue reading →

Yoga Required

After 15 months of butt-kicking workouts, I’m no longer an Orange Theory member. I loved Orange Theory and give that place half the credit for my performance on my first half marathon earlier this year. The consistent training got me to increase my flat road pace a full mile per hour and then the coaches pushed me to maintain that speed on inclines. So, my membership was well worth it and I’m sure I’ll be back some day.

But I’m now training for my second half marathon and there are running clubs Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday that I can go to. I don’t need the treadmill component of Orange Theory any more. And besides all the epic hiking I’m doing, Boulder is the capital of free summer workouts. I have a free Sunday bootcamp in the park, F45 is holding seven free community classes in July and August, Alchemy 365 is running a bunch of free community classes (in Denver), my friend gave me a $30 referral credit to ClassPass so I did a few barre classes and boxing classes, and of course, there are free yoga classes everywhere. Continue reading →

Eight Days in the Mid-Atlantic (Part 2)

I spent the second half of my trip back east in “DC and Baltimore”. Or is that “DC-Baltimore”? I was there to see a friend who used to live in Boulder. According to her fiancé, who works in urban development, Baltimore is part of the greater DC metro area, and the region should be referred to as a whole, similar to Minneapolis-St Paul or Dallas-Fort Worth. This led to some debate, as neither my friend nor I consider DC and Baltimore part of the same area, though they are extremely geographically close. The question of “Denver and Boulder” or “Denver-Boulder” also came up, although given Boulder’s habit of buying up all the land around the city limits to prevent urban sprawl, this seems a much harder sell than DC-Baltimore. But the bigger question my friend’s fiancé raises is this: should experts refer to areas of their domain by the technically accurate but pedantic definitions of their industry? Or refer to them by the terms preferred by the public at large so as to better connect with their audience? I’ve posted previously about my own internal debates concerning whether to use proper grammar in certain situations, so I couldn’t help thinking about his instance on DC-Baltimore for longer than I should have. Continue reading →

Eight Days in the Mid-Atlantic (Part 1)

This summer, I’m keeping my travel domestic and fulfilling some long overdue visits to friends and family. I forgot how cheap it is to vacation when you don’t have to pay for hotels and you don’t have to go out for every meal. Also, I’ve been to places I’m going this summer many times before, so I’m not running around trying to experience everything all at once. I haven’t taken a vacation that was exclusively focused on spending time with people in, well, ever maybe. But now I am. The purpose of my travel this summer is to immerse myself in the lives of my friends, experience a different America for a bit, and simply relax. As a bonus, I’m saving some serious coin for a big international trip during the end of year holidays and my big mid-life birthday next April. Continue reading →

When A Writer Dates

The number one rule of being a writer is that you have to write. This is the same in any pursuit (say, dating). If you want to be good at it, you have to do it regularly. You need to write a lot of crappy words to come up with the good ones and you need to go on dates with a lot of duds to find the right one.

Writing and dating intersect in the online world. A blank profile is useless. You must be able to write one that attracts the type of person you are looking for, and when you match, you must be able to carry on a decent written conversation long enough to get to the in-person date. And if the person you want to date is a writer, well, you had better have some serious writing skills. Because we’re judging. It’s inevitable. In addition to physical attraction, my willingness to meet someone is based largely on how well they abide by the rules of good writing. Continue reading →

The Half Year Book Report (#4)

January through June 2018

Toward the end of this six-month period, I decided to start including sentences I love from these books. When I can remember to write them down, that is. I used to do the Sunday Sentence on this blog, but now think it makes more sense to include those lines directly here. So look for more of those starting with the next installment of the Book Report this December. 

 

Title: The Boys in the Boat

Author: Daniel James Brown

Date Finished: 1/18

Finished: No

Format: Hard cover

Ranking Out of 10: 6

Notes: This book was full of impressive research and gave a fascinating look into the world I know nothing about. but it kept going and going. After I read about two or three races, that was enough. I didn’t need to read about eight more. I did a lot of skimming over those parts but enjoyed the human parts still. The lives of the men of the team were interesting. I also enjoyed that, although Nazi Germany was part of the setting, the book wasn’t too political. The Nazis weren’t the main point.  Continue reading →