Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Thoughts about Design

I ran across this website, which offers some excellent guidelines around appealing and aesthetically pleasing website design, and realized that it’s been a while since I rattled on about the topics of design, layout, and general aesthetics.

Good design is good design, no matter what the medium or topic. I don’t claim to be a designer, but I’ve traveled enough miles in both the digital and print world to have earned the credentials for a modest expertise in the areas of communication, publications, and document structure/design.

Unfortunately, design (both visual and content) is often ignored – or directly violated. Every author doesn’t have to be a guru of design and presentation expertise, but there’s no justifiable reason to subject one’s readers to an experience that gets in the way of communicating your message. Some great resources are available to guide one in creating pleasing communications.

I’ll continue to post here links and references for guidelines, guidance and good examples. Add your own contributions – enrich the conversation.

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Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

I’m thoroughly enjoying Tippecanoe and Tyler Too, written by my brother-in-law Jan Van Meter and recently published by the University of Chicago Press.

Jan has provided the back story for more than 50 slogans and catchphrases that span our country’s history and contribute to our cultural milieu. It’s a fun read – of course, all the more fun for me since I can “hear” the author’s voice as I read. I can also hear my sister’s voice in the chats we had about how this was the perfect venture for Jan – digging deep into a vast store of information, sorting, cataloguing, writing. He enjoyed the journey to published author.

Pick up a copy – or two (the holidays are just around the corner). Healthy sales will encourage Jan in his new-found avocation.

Oh, the holidays

turkey1So, we’re in the holiday season – a treacherous time of year. Too much food, too much consumerism (although maybe not this year), too much family. Excess everywhere.

Halloween, a month-long extravaganza of refined sugar, costume parties and festive yard displays is over. We’ve hauled the extra candy into the office to foist on our dieting coworkers, and the Christmas onslaught has begun.

Thanksgiving gets crunched in the middle – not much in the way of inflatable yard displays or colored lights, but boy do we make up for it with that one big obscene meal. Sales for butter and miniature marshmallow (yuk) must skyrocket in mid-November. The other thing that skyrockets is anxiety – Norman Rockwell really set our expectations for the perfect family reunion. Despite our better judgment – we know that all those family members won’t change their stripes, not even for one day a year – we travel to whatever we’re defining as “home” and fool ourselves into believing that it will be a Perfect Day.

We eat far too much – what other day of the year includes a meal of multiple courses, seven vegetables, gravy (when else do I ever make gravy?), butter, cream, big helpings, four desserts, and football. Perhaps we’re stoking up for the shopping season which, for some sorry folks, starts the day after. The economic meltdown may alter the usual scenario this year, but Thanksgiving is a strange holiday indeed.

This year I’m tasked with bringing appetizers for seven diners. Shouldn’t be difficult. I’m planning on three dishes – some spiced nuts, vegetables and dip, and a fat-laden cheese tart thing. Of course I will make enough to feed the 101st Airborne – you never know when they might drop in.

And then I’ll think about Christmas.

Just a thought…

Let’s see where this leads – startling insights, deep thoughts, great revelations. More likely, occasional musings. We’ll see. I invite you to join in the conversation.