Unusual grave site

Maddie and I went for a bike ride recently while Shannon was away in Seattle on business. We headed up the towpath towards Thorpe Park, and cut down a side road following a sign that we always see during our weekday commuting routine, dropping at her nursery. The sign points to a “10th century church” which it turns out is in Thorpe.

I thought this grave site was really unusual. I’ve never seen a burial marker like this that is just a straight line marking the coffin’s location, rather then the usual rectangle. I thought it was beautiful, especially with the line of metal type running down its length.

Gravestone #1

Gravestone #2

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ECSCW 2007

I’ve just spent the week in Limerick, in Ireland, at the European conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. It’s quite an intimate event, with just a few hundred attendees and one track (so everyone listens to every piece of work that is presented rather then having to select from parallel tracks and miss anything).

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As a designer I feel a little like a fish out of water in these situations. The conference is REALLY for social scientists, primarily psychologists, anthropologists, ethnographers and other observers of human behavior. Many of the attendees have been steeped in the subtlety of their “art”, of ways of thinking of and describing the way people behave, for 20 or 30 years. As such I can’t really, on my first go, recognize the nuances of many of the presentations. I can’t see the layers of work that have gone before that have been built upon. And as a former product development guy, and employee of a corporation for 12 years now, I can’t really participate in the pub discussions about tenure, publishing, and the now ancient wars between different divisions within the disciplines.

Regardless, I don’t consider the visit to have been a waste of time. It helps give me some context for the history of the people I work with, and does help feed ideas I might have about the way that I work, and the way in which I fit into my team.

Besides which I think I managed to add a small amount of value as a design “practitioner” in my role as one the panel members for the Doctoral Colloquium. I also managed to demo BubbleBoard to a bunch of people.

The highlight for me was the closing keynote by Prof. Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin. He’s an Irish pianist of high renown, and Professor of Music at the University of Limerick, as well as the Director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. His talk was tenuously connected to the conference’s themes in that he discussed the interplay between musicians in a traditional Irish Session in a way that might be appropriate to the audience. Really, though, it was very absorbing and philosophical discussion about the nature of different forms of music, and their role in getting you into the zone. Very inspiring.

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Giant web woven by a variety of spider families

My sister’s worst nightmare. And mine to some extent. Spiders…collaboration. Puts new meaning in the phrase “social web“.

Giant web woven by a variety of spider families
“Scientists report that the massive 200-yard spider web recently discovered in Texas’s Lake Tawakoni State Park was woven by spiders from many different species working collaboratively. Thousands of spiders have rebuilt the web three times after it’s been torn up by rain and wind. Texas A&M University entomologist Allen Dean has identified spiders from such families as funnel web weavers, sac spiders, orb weavers, mesh web weavers, wolf spiders, pirate spiders, and others working on the web.”
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Monmouth Coffee Company – Home

I’ve been looking for a replacement for the coffee beans I used to buy from Vivace’s in Seattle. Their ‘stuff’ is just great, but our main ‘courier’ recently moved away from the area, and I’ve been left without a good ‘source’. (Subtle use of drug language to emphasize my level of addiction, no?)

Vivace sells beans online, but it will only ship un-roasted beans overseas since it argues that the roasted ones lose their taste after just a few days in the postal system. You’ve got to admire them standing by the quality of their product. I don’t have such high expectations of beans. I’ll happily keep consuming them like a moron well after their sell-by date, and despite advice to the contrary, I keep my un-ground beans in the freezer because, well, we’ve run out of storage in all the other cool and shady places.

Anyway, we were in London recently with some friends near Covent Garden and they mentioned that they wanted to stop by the Monmouth Coffee Company on Monmouth Street, just near Seven Dials. On a whim I asked John to buy me a bag of whatever he was getting (which turned out to be their Guatemala blend) and it is really great. Compares very favorably with my old favorite. Place (and beans) are highly recommended.

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Microsoft’s Happiness Czar

Business Week’s recent positive coverage of Lisa Brummel, Microsoft’s head of Human Resources, has somehow transformed itself into a multimedia extravaganza of pictures and sound.

I worked with Lisa for a while, during a brief stint over in MSN, and for some reason I feel the need to say that this article isn’t (all) spin. She really is one of the coolest people I’ve ever worked with. A real individual.

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Microsoft’s Happiness Czar

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