Monthly Archives: January 2008

Serenity in furriness


As the pressure builds this quarter, I find myself looking at this little guy…his roundness just seems to have a soothing effect. I keep him on my desktop at all times, maybe he can bring you some peace as well.

Originally uploaded by ian.greenleaf

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Mike Huckabee: Fried Squirrel Out of a Popcorn Popper

This guy is going to hell.

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Circle Triangle Square

Exercise for Logos class: Circle, Triangle, Square

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Britney Spears

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Dick Cheney

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Phil Spector

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God

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Hank

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What time was that deadline?

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Design Experience: Coffee Nation

The following is a short essay for my Design Experience class regarding good and bad experiences.

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My favorite way to spend free time is to sit at leisure in a coffee shop or café with a cup of something stimulating and conversation of similar nature. I’ve experienced many wonderful cafes in my lifetime that have left a memory or two with me, though in my humble opinion, even the local Starbucks can often provide a place for something pleasant.

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In particular, Coffee Nation is a small café in Riga, Latvia that stands out as one of those cafes that fills its customer with a warm, memorable experience. Coffee Nation could be enjoyable at any time, though the mornings were by far the most pleasant. This says a great deal, as I am not a creature of morning habits, yet this café made the mornings an likable time.

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Located on street level on the opposite side of a friend’s flat we visited, Coffee Nation provided the ideal start to the day in a close proximity unknown to most U.S. cities. The urban décor was tasteful but not extravagant, and did not overshadow the large cups of liquid fuel and fresh pastries. While the inside had its merits, the sidewalk patio provided a relaxing breath of fresh air and an opportunity to slowly divulge in a large cappuccino in the early sunlight. The picturesque streets of Riga became a stage for the small bistro tables, as average people walked past on their commute and moderate traffic passed through the unpretentious city.

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Design Experience: Newegg

 The following is a short essay for my Design Experience class regarding good and bad experiences.

Our household has a fascination with hunting for electronic toys at the best price.  Though there are several sites that have provided good experiences, Newegg stands out for its page and navigation.  The Newegg webpage is easy to navigate and well categorized, making product selection an easier process.

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The main page of Newegg is neatly organized and different sections are easy to navigate.  There is little clutter and the type is easy to read. In the search feature, Newegg attempts to guess at what you are trying to locate, which is convenient for bad spellers like myself.  Once you have selected the item you wish to explore, all available items are listed.  The user can sort by price, brand, and so forth, but can also see upfront if shipping is free or additional.  May other filters are applicable and also tell you how many items fit that category, so you don’t waste your time searching in an area that doesn’t contain such a product.

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After a particular item is chosen, a summary of ratings appears, and reviews are listed in an easy to view column underneath.  The review summary is especially nice when trying to make a quick comparison between products.  Checkout is relatively hassle-free, and Newegg is prompt with its shipping.  So far, shopping with them has been successful, informative and cheaper than in a retail store.
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Design Experience: Headless Eels

The following is a short essay for my Design Experience class regarding good and bad experiences.

In a city dominated by Publix and Kroger, I enjoy visiting farmer’s markets for their diverse selection of goods, lower prices, and overall multicultural atmosphere. While I usually do my shopping at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market, I occasionally hit other places for more random goods.
At another Atlanta area farmer’s market, my husband and I happened to be looking for fresh seafood. My husband spotted a tank full of live eels and immediately became intrigued. I shuddered at the thought of buying something living and killing it, and would likely be a vegetarian if more motivated. My husband, however, though it would be a unique experience to buy a fresh eel and learn how to cook it. I wasn’t enthused, but let him decide. Before I knew it, he was picking out his eel of choice and holding a pathetic bag with a poor little guy floating in it. I refused to watch the eel suffer yet did not want to have to take its life when we arrived home. Thus, my husband asked a worker for ideas, and was sent over to the fish gutting section. At this point I walked away to avoid the site, disgusted by this experience. When my husband found me later hiding in a canned beverage isle, he held at his side a smaller bag with a headless eel inside. I was not happy, but hoped it was the quickest and least painful way to go.
For the rest of the day, each time the refrigerator door was opened I was greeted by the presence of a headless eel. Though I was disturbed that we had taken the life of the poor thing, I tried to comfort myself by thinking that it was glad to be out of that horrible tank. Nonetheless, no more eels.
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Design Experience: USCIS

The following is a short essay for my Design Experience class regarding good and bad experiences.

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The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service (formally the INS)

I feel it’s a preconceived notion that when a foreigner marries an American, a gift basket complete with green card, working documents and a social security card arrives at that foreigner’s front door. In reality, this is not the case, and for those who process their papers through the Atlanta branch, the opposite is true.  Instead it is a long and confusing process that at times seems set for new immigrants to fail.
I was living in Russia with my husband, a citizen of said country, when we decided to move things over to the U.S.  We completed all necessary papers for the appropriate visa (K3, for foreigners wed to U.S. Citizens outside the U.S.).  Upon getting notice that our papers had been received, a document was sent stating that everything would be processed in 30-999 days.  Alas, after waiting six months and talking to a lawyer, meeting with the U.S. consulate and providing every train ticket or email between and documenting every financial asset to prove we could support each other – in September 2003, my husband was finally granted the proper visa to enter the U.S.

After entering the U.S., however, my husband hardly felt welcome.  His visa did not merit him a social security card or permission to work, and the DMV would not issue him a license until further paperwork explained that his visa was valid.  After four months of laborious paperwork, a driver’s license was obtained, but still no work permit.  Multiple trips were made to the local USCIS office, but as always no one knew where the papers were.  After six months, I demanded answers and planted myself before a rude immigration official.  I wanted an explanation as to why the USCIS could not locate the work papers, after the computer showed that they had been completed, but could not find them, and could not issue new a new work permit.  When the immigration official ran out of excuses, he called security and two large men soon appeared at my side, the stench of Fulton Street quickly meeting my nose.  Meanwhile, though our papers were still missing, we received the green card for an applicant of a similar name and were forced to clear up this mistake.  After eight months, summer 2004, the work permit was finally found and sent to my husband and he could begin to look for a job.

That was not the end of the troubles, as my husband’s visa was soon to expire and the Atlanta USCIS office was backlogged again.  This time we awaited his permanent resident card (green card), but again were told to wait.  My husband’s visa expired, and though he was legally in the U.S., he remained without status, unable to leave or reenter the U.S.  In December 2005 we were finally called in for the green card interview, but were declined –my husband’s fingerprints had “expired.”  We quickly got them retaken and in 2006, nearly 3 years later, he received his permanent resident/green card.

In fall 2008, it is possible to apply for citizenship, and we are placing bets as to how many years this will take.

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Design Experience: Yahoo Mail

The following is a short essay for my Design Experience class regarding good and bad experiences.

Several years ago, I was offered a position by a large corporation and readily jumped at the opportunity. After meeting with my future boss and later accepting the position, she attempted email correspondence with me. My response, sent through my address at Mail.ru, a Russian service I had been using while living abroad, was immediately sent back, rejected by the company’s service as potential spam.
In need of an urgent email address, I looked for something widely used so as to increase its chances of getting through to my boss’s email. At that point, Yahoo was a leader and I quickly created an account with them. Success, I could now contact my boss via electronic mail.
Yahoo pleased me for the time being, as their old interface provided a small space for news updates and search topics before entering the mail section. However, as time would have it, updates came, and the experience became more dismal. Instead of an easy to navigate site, it soon became cluttered with paparazzi news, dancing mortgage rate ads, and general unorganized grids. The most recent updates, however, had major changes to the mail section of Yahoo, and that has finally pushed me to the point where I may phase out this address with time.

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While it seems like Yahoo tried to squeeze every possibly thing in front of the eyes of its user, I am instead hit with so many things I cannot find what I want. Now when I enter the mail department, I see news headlines and ads instead of my mail…I have to find the tab for my mail hidden behind them.

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The content of my emails shares half a panel with list of mail in my box, so I constantly have to scroll of readjust the size of the panel. Once it’s open, I have to click a button to unblock my images (I guess created for faster loading times incase I don’t want to see anything), which is an annoyance. Maybe there is a way to shut it off, but I don’t feel like taking the time to investigate – it should be placed in a more obvious location. Finally, even finding a button for “new mail” feels awkward and detached from the rest of the options.
At any rate, unless a new update brings great things, I will be slowly shifting to a new personal address.

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Design Experience: Critique

The following is a short essay for my Design Experience class, regarding the ideal critique.

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The ideal critique begins far before the presentation process begins. To have an ideal critique, I would need to be rested and prepared, something that I rarely come close to being. Instead of spray mounting items minutes before, I would have time for rehearsal, timing, and revision of what I would like to say. The night before this, I would also have at least several hours of sleep, and maybe even a shower.
Upon entering critique, I would make contact with each member of the panel, and they would likewise notice my presence. After introducing myself, I would receive an enthusiastic response and likewise a brief intro from each member.
After beginning my presentation, my panel would maintain eye contact and interest. Once pieces have been shown, they would take the opportunity to ask me for further details about my process and ideas. Constructive criticism would be administered with a balance of positive remarks. A highly negative panel that condemns too many flaws tends to make me loose focus on what in particular needs to be improved. Instead, focusing on a handful of improvements makes them stand out more, and therefore more likely to be improved upon.
Also, upon analyzing each piece, a definite reaction would be perceived. If it is distaste, it is explained in a constructive manner, and if enjoyed, likewise detailed. A lukewarm, unenthused reaction would not exist in my ideal critique. As my instructors want me to be passionate about my work, I want my panel to be passionate about my presentation. Even for items that I did not feel confident it, I would remember to “sell” them, and emphasize their strengths while minimizing any weaknesses. Reasons behind things, even if they might have fallen flat, are explained to further plant a positive opinion in the minds of my panel.
After I have presented all my items in the proper amount of time, I would have the opportunity to answer more questions, perhaps a bit more personal or beyond just the work of my projects. With this chance to get to me better, they would thus have a deeper connection to my work. My panel would then take the time to fully complete my critique feedback form, reiterating positive and negative feedback, as well as any other comments. By doing so, they would create a permanent reminder of their feedback that I would reread and reflect upon during the following quarter and also chart my progress during my time at PC.
Upon leaving the critique, panel member would each exchange business cards with me, and the relationships would continue to develop. As a result I would then be offered an internship that would give me an excellent experience and connections, and ultimately lead to a smashing good job. The heavens would then open and angels would rejoice.

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