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Showing posts from 2010

It's A Wonderful Work Life

I'm struggling to write my holiday greetings this year. As I write I was hoping to announce a change of address and some good news that I've bought a house, but alas I am not immune to the insanity that has gripped the rest of the country. I am still functionally homeless as I wait to close on a foreclosure, hoping it happens before Christmas.

Despite domestic inconvenience, 2010 has been a wonderful year. Business has been growing steadily throughout the year as Gavin and I reinvent the very definition of the word "work" by incorporating it with things like "play" and "life". It just seems like we are always doing a lot of all of those three things at once, and it somehow works.

We are looking forward to settling into a new home/office in 2011, finally setting up the kind of creative environment I've been dreaming of having since college. I'll just be happy to be able to start making all the food and art I can stand, but the main benefit …

A Good Internet Contest Really Worth Entering! - Food Blog to Asia

I do some internet marketing, I see a lot more poor internet marketing. Here's a contest which I actually like! Blog to Asia with Pei Wei Asian Diner.



Why is this a well designed internet contest? It's collaborative and social and it all takes place online.  Even after the contest is over it carries on via the ongoing blog.  Picking blogging as the challenge is accessible for people and fun... who doesn't love to write about food? Because blogging is social media, each person who enters the contest is probably already sharing their blog with their personal network of friends - creating a viral marketing effect.

Clearly Pei-Wei has really thought this out. This IS the type of effort which utilizes thoughtful marketing teams with a plan that will carry forward well into 2012 - generating buzz and enthusiasm for their brand.  This is NOT one of these sloppy internet marketing contests that puts American's out of work.

There are so many food bloggers out there right now. T…

Robots in the Grocery Store, Marketers in Your Food

My local Giant Foods has been bugging me. It seems like the experience of shopping there keeps getting more ghetto (and it's not even in Baltimore). I go out of my way to shop at other stores because frankly I'm annoyed by all the new technology in my neighborhood  Giant. Technology that seems to be designed to police shoppers rather than to help them accomplish their actual mission of buying food.


7 Reasons Why Robots And Groceries Don't Work
Unemployment is at its highest in decades so why the heck are supermarkets replacing jobs with robots? By robots I mean, robo-cashiers. At the Giant Foods by my house when you walk in you can pick up this hand-held scanner. As you move around the super market you essentially ring yourself up while you shop. All this technology sounds handy, and this may be a boon to the anti-social or impatient, but there are fundamental problems with this;

#1 It's obviously very expensive to develop and deploy this type of technology. Couldn'…

Breakaway Logo

I'm very excited about this new brand I'm working on. Breakaway. There will be more breakaway branding delight rolling out over the next 2 months. Here's a preview for now.

Want to update your brand? contact me, Stephanie and I'll hook you up.

Send Jonathan to NY Fashion Week Party! Saturday August 14th

If I were in San Francisco this weekend I would be going to the "The Fashion Aid" party at the Barber Lounge.  Jonathan Baker, already a rockstar stylist at the Barber Lounge is also San Francisco's up and coming fashion hero - AND WE NEED YOUR HELP TO SEND HIM TO NEW YORK FASHION WEEK IN SEPTEMBER!!! The Barber Lounge will be hosting a party that evening highlighting several San Francisco designers and a special music performance by Rachel Silva.


Come for the fashions and help Jonathan get to NYC

Finally a Home

We finally got our offer accepted on Friday for the forcosure we've been trying to buy. It's a bit of a fixer-upper but in Baltimore this can be pretty affordable. Total cost after remodeling should be under $180,000.

We start the really fun process of inspections and crap this week. So we'll see if there's a hole to Hell in the basement that might kill this whole deal. If not we have to build a huge list of all the stuff we need to do and find contractors ... basically a huge project is starting. We'll be able to move in around Thanksgiving. THANKS!

I guess I'm happy. I keep muttering the word "finally" over and over in my mind. Now I can FINALLY unpack from my move over two years ago! Now I can finally have the space to work on Art. Now I can finally start my culinary experiments (starting with beer making and then onto the wood burning outdoor oven). Now I can finally have my own yard to garden in - city farm coming soon!  Now I can finally…

Where Do I Get my News?

Where do I get my news from? When I'm not too busy I'll scan the Washington Post (first, since it's the best US paper) and then I'll scan NYT. We are always scanning the BBC radio, or the BBC website. I have BBC, NPR, and Huffington Post apps on my iPad and I was scanning all the news from the apps during my commute. I am now totally convinced that smart phones and mobile devices like the iPad are MADE for commuters. For laughs I'll go to SFgate.com or Latimes.com. Just to see how Californians are screwing themselves.

I am not into TV news but I'll occasionally tune into Mad Money,  BBC, or Fox news (because CNN sucks right now). I'll watch 60 minutes if they have an interesting story (I do love Andy Rooney). Thinking more, I read magazines but not that much since I'm too cheap to actually buy magazines nowadays. I'd rather buy a latte than Time. I will start getting more magazines on my iPad though.

As far as I'm concerned…

Who Knew Baltimore is a Farm City?

Last Wednesday I made my first Veggie Trade of the year. I had sprouted  too many tomato plants and since I had no space in my garden for all of them I posted a listing on Veggie Trader, offering them up to anybody who wanted them. Within a couple of days of I had some responses, and on Wednesday Beth (the first responder) came to my home to swap. We had emailed already, Beth was picking up her CSA box and asked if I wanted to share some greens in exchange for my tomato plants. YES! I said, and Wednesday 6pm the tomato plants found a new home and I got dinner delivered to my door.

As soon as the trade was made I took off to the Baltimore City Public Library to see Author Novella Carpenter present her book "Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer". I haven't read the book yet but had caught Novella speaking on NPR earlier in the day and was intrigued. I'm not really a farmer but a girl can dream, right? Novella Carpenter gave a wonderful presentati…

Form Follows Function - iPad Edition

I got an iPad. So far I love it. I feel like the chains have been broken and I no longer have to log incredible hours in front of my office & desktop setup. Even as I write this post I'm sitting in a bar, enjoying a glass of Cabernet and chit chatting with people, other iPad owners who also love the pad. It's way more social, more touchy-shareable than the iPhone and iPod touch.

Before the pad was released I was working with chef author Eric Gower and I predicted that this device could empower kitchen cooks and be oh so more effective for reading recipes than the iPhone could ever be. Check out this post about a kitchen cabinet outfitted with an ipad cubby... Something I literally spoke of, just ask Eric!

Menus on My Mind
I have more ideas, and Nelson, the owner of Grand Cru, the bar I'm writing this from agrees. This thing is going to revolutionize all menus forever. Yes menus. Why kill trees when you can just update some website? Like that Sangiovese? Read all the bac…

Logo & Web Solutions For The Low Tech World of Massage

Studioroom is pleased to announce the launch of an all new website, with all new branding for The San Francisco School of Massage. At first this project was daunting, trying to create a new logo for a venerated massage school. The world of massage makes me think of crystals, lavender and "new age" music. Most of what we see that is massage related are spa brochures and websites showing some woman relaxing in a peaceful setting. None of these things honestly depict a massage school.

The task: Create a logo for a massage school that alludes to human anatomy without being too literal.  

Logo design is an iterative process. So I started out with an exhaustive typeface search, then explored ideas for artwork.
Through the process, clients and designer alike explore many logo variations and can determine what design works for the client's business...


...Winding up with a final logo design, and then translating that design into a website  - it's one of Studioroom's special…

How Your Facebook Gets Phished and Your Twitter Gets Taken

Last summer I felt like a rockstar on twitter. I had finally got into the groove, comfortable with "tweeting" and I was gaining followers like never before. Over ten a day follower emails were coming into my inbox, announcements like "Benjamin White is now following you on twitter" ... I was getting pretty good at this social media thing! By the end of one week, when I should have had a few hundred followers, I still only had 70. Something wasn't adding up but I was too busy to figure out why, so I assumed people were just rapidly following, then un-following me as some kind of retarded marketing tactic. Then it started getting out of control... 30, 40, 50 new followers a day. It was becoming a nuisance, cluttering up my Gmail, so I logged into twitter to turn off those annoying email alerts. When the alerts kept coming, that's when I knew. Nobody was following me. Twitter wasn't sending me those emails. It was phishing.

Phishing is simple. You get a ph…

A Four Generation Diabetes Story

I was going to write a diabetes valentines post for my other blog, veggie trader. I was going to write something pithy about love equaling food, and try to relate that somehow to overloading yourself with love and getting diabetic. I was going to write this in the context of the Let's Move campaign started last week by first Lady Michelle Obama. And then I was going to tie all this together on a blog which is really about gardening... but this is too difficult.  I'm not doing that, I'm writing about my dad instead.

First let me say that the Let's Move website could be A LOT better, the design needs to be more engaging, useful with actionable information. Oh how I wish I could have been consulted to work on that site! A full review of some of these "government sponsored help campaigns" will be coming soon.

Last Saturday I was hanging out with my dad and we started talking about his diabetes. He developed type 2 about 15 years ago around age 60. My dad's mo…

Keep it Fresh - Search Engine Optimization

I am not a good writer. I know some amazing writers and I am not one of them. I'm a designer, a visual person, I'm all 'show' and not so great at telling. This is a problem on the web because it doesn't matter how beautiful my designs are or how amazing a photo might be, search engines are blind to images.

Lori Culwell's recent article in the Huffington Post reminded me of my SEO rule number 1 - a rule which for some reason I have a very difficult time getting people to comprehend - which is simplistically "SEO is all about content".  I guess that is very simplistic because here is Lori's take;

"There is not a week that goes by in my capacity as a Search Engine Optimization and Marketing Professional (a field I've been working in since the dotcom boom in San Francisco) where someone doesn't email me to say some combination of the words "Can you fix my metatags? My site has a really high bounce rate."

So, my answer this questi…

She Has A Blog?! - How I Began Blogging

I finally saw Julie & Julia last night. Loved it! The movie is a true story about a 'lowly cubicle worker' (Julie Powell) who decides to transform her reality by becoming a food blogger. Julie assigns herself a monumental project, a theme for her debut blog, cooking Julia Childs' Mastering The Art of French Cooking.

There were some funny parallels for me in this story. Like Julie, I love cooking. Like Julie, I was struggling with some career angst when I turned to blogging as affordable mental health therapy. But unlike Julie I was in Silicon Valley and my perspective on blogging was quite different. My workplace (AOL) encouraged blogging, and I remember my coworker Holly getting all the love in the office just for going to geeky after hours meet-ups (like Mobile Mondays) and writing about it. At the same time one of my friends was rocketing to the all-time blogging hall of fame, winning webby awards year after year, just for sourcing and posting thecutest photos of ba…

I Wish Google Still Suppoted Notebook

I think Google Notebook was the best all around research bookmarking tool-thing on the web, but Google recently stopped supporting it. I'm not sure why they did this but I think they want me to install the google toolbar instead. I tried that out and it just taxes my whole setup here too much, I don't like it.  Notebook was better.

What was especially awesome about Notebook was the way that I could gather and organize images and photos... conveniently remembering the URLs for me.  Letting me share that visual info with other people on the same project collaboratively. It was a great tool for visual professionals... sigh.

Putting My Foot Down on New Years Commitments

Resolutions are sooooo zero. You're not gonna resolve to do anything! How about a commitment? Now that's change I can believe in...

From now forward I am commiting to:

#1 Be positive in action, thought, and words ALL OF THE TIME
This means I wont watch murder shows on TV, nor will I entertain fighting, war, or horror movies. As far as I'm concerned the only violence I ever care to learn about is something affecting a direct relative.

#2 Eat to live a long healthy life
As much as I can control, I will only eat sustainably grown foods by local producers. Mostly fresh vegetables. Everything I consume must be labeled organic & local & fair trade or else I simply don't want it.

#3 Zero waste
I'm tired of leftovers and having too much leftover stuff lying around useless. This is an end to overbuying for the sake of making myself look like a hero to my family... The real heroism is CONSERVATION.