Category Archives: Travel

These are all true statements.

We are done with graduate school.

We are moving to San Francisco.

We are road tripping across the country.

We are currently in Moab, Utah.

The best way to keep track of us is through Twitter.

Or through Kate’s blog.

We Went And Saw Some Mountains

Kate and I spent a week stomping around Colorado, hanging out in Fort Collins and ascending into the dizzying airs of Rocky Mountain National Park.

There are many more photos to be seen in this set on Flickr.

Notch Top Mountain

Fern Lake With Feldspars

For Distant Viewing

We will shock you.

Setlist, 08/10/09 – 08/22/09

San Francisco CA > Minneapolis MN > Grand Island NE > Sidney NE > Fort Collins CO > Estes Park CO > Rocky Mountain National Park > Fort Collins CO > Cheyenne WY > Kearney NE > Des Moines IA > Minneapolis MN > Madison WI > Bloomington IL > Bloomington IN

It’s been a long two weeks.

Directions to Mark’s Work

Out to vine. Cross vine, straight to welding. Right side of welding. Two-track entry to nature. Entry behind. Natural area. Straight. Between ponds. Fenced-in area. Right of chain link fence. Straight. Little hill. Up it. On top of berm along river. Left on dirt single track, fifty feet to railroad tracks. Left to get on rails, cross river on rails. Immediately to right is Mark’s building.

Meanwhile, back at the farm…

Rock the Garden

I flew back to Minnesota for the weekend to catch Rock the Garden with Kate. We were too busy filling up on beer and wine to catch much of Solid Gold and Yeasayer, but Calexico was a sweet breath of hot desert air blown in from the Great American Southwest. Then, The Decemberists played The Hazards of Love in its entirety, rendering me a weeping ball of blubbery, emotional goo for sixty minutes. They followed it up with a killer encore, which had me trying to reel my jaw back up into my face.

Those cats can play, man. They’re the real deal. Kate proposed we move to Portland because, you know, The Decemberists are from Portland, and I believe she makes a sound argument. Moving to a particular town in order to be closer to your favorite band that otherwise tours nationally on a regular basis makes complete sense.


Last night we (kinda, sorta) invited ourselves over to a dinner party at the Ingman Estate, where our tremendous peals of laughter dared set off car alarms in the street. We discussed such things as Super Fantastic tomatoes, sucker-popping, and a brilliant marketing campaign for propane.

We ate and drank and laughed and talked until the wee hours of the night, and this morning Kate and I woke up bright and early so we could get new iPhones. It’s a good thing we got a head start on the project, because we ended up traveling to three locations and spending four hours getting our plan in shape. Luckily we scored an incredibly helpful representative at the AT&T store, who got us all squared away after an hour of tireless effort.

Kate dropped me off at the Minneapolis airport where I spent a good half-hour going through security, and I made it to San Francisco just in time for a most-experiential ride on the BART. The doors didn’t work properly, the conductor spoke in an awkward and confusing cadence, they rebooted the train computer by shutting off power for a minute, and a homeless fellow panhandled us on the train. Which is mighty bold. Seriously, San Francisco has standards.

The Iron Legs of Thursday

Yes. I am alive. So very sunburned and alive, in this enchanted land nestled intimately between the ocean and a bay and the other side of a bay. I am snug here in the heart of Mission, living at the House of Many Doors with my trusty Frankenbike at my side. Together we will get to the bottom of this fair city, discover its history and nuance, and learn Great and Amazing Things that we will share with you.

From satellite images San Francisco appears relatively flat. I come to you bearing witness that this is not the truth. Indeed, today while struggling up the beautiful wooded hills of Presidio the giant eucalyptus trees filled my strained lungs with a soothing perfume.

Yes. We have eucalyptus trees. And koalas, as I can safely assume. Also, I have learned that fruit grows on trees, and that these trees grow in San Francisco. There are fat and healthy lemons and oranges and grapefruits that beckon for me to hop the fence into the neighbor’s backyard and eat my way into a citrusy coma.

There are mysteries in this town, such as a bridge that disappears into the side of an island only to emerge from the other side of the island. This is a mystery.

Let me tell you a story.

I arrived in San Francisco at one o’clock Friday afternoon. By four o’clock my friends had already bought me a burrito from a truck and built me a single-speed bike out of spare parts. Thusly armed with my Frankenbike, they pushed me out the door to go toe-to-toe with San Francisco rush hour. Despite a few wrong turns and some freaky-crazy intersections between here and SoMA, I found my way to the Adaptive Path office and joined them for happy hour, Battledecks, and a brief tour of their studio. For how much I love Post-It notes, whiteboards and Sharpies, I may have just found my heaven.


After returning to the Mission I dashed out the door with my friends to catch a burlesque show, as this would seem the only proper introduction to San Francisco culture. Zooming down city streets with a pack of friends on bicycles made me feel like I was ten years old again, on my way to blow the week’s allowance on a sugar rush at the Minnetonka Mills gas station. This time, however, the goal was a bar in Mission, serving up IPAs that taste like grapefruit.

Josh and Kush

Josh Drops In

The next morning we took a surf trip down to Pacifica. I got my first taste of surfing a few years ago, during a scorching-hot fall weekend at the Oregon Coast. The water was still blindingly cold despite the air temperature, so I had some idea what those guys were paddling out in. While I am certain my future in San Francisco will entail taming the mighty surf, I decided that surfing through traffic on a bicycle was harrowing enough, and I didn’t want to push my luck by tackling the ocean. Yet.



Sunday the city of San Francisco threw a carnival in my honor, welcoming me to the neighborhood. This celebration featured an awesome parade that went right by my house and was jam-packed with thongs.

Folsom Street Iron Works

Delores Park

Shoe Garden

Yesterday I set out on foot, exploring Mission, Dolores Park, Castro, Buena Vista Park, Haight, Alamo Square and Market. I put some serious miles on my Converse All-Stars, which to this day remain a staple of hipster culture. I feel I have a lot more cred than a lot of the posers here, though, cuz these All-Stars I got way back in ’97. Hear that? These kicks are Pre-Dot Com Boom, suckas.


Golden Gate Bridge

Today I took in an epic bike ride to the Golden Gate Bridge, which was named after the Golden Gate, which was named long before there was a bridge. This I learned from the San Francisco Maritime Museum, which was amazing and had awesome things like copper plates that were more than a hundred years old from which nautical maps were printed. Yes, the San Francisco Maritime Museum is a wonderful little museum, and it broke my heart that I was the only person there. I gave them a donation, but it probably wouldn’t hurt if you were willing to give them a reach-around as well.

So yes. I blasted through SoMA past Adaptive Path and IDEO and a Ferrari, through Fisherman’s Place-To-Get-Lousy-T-Shirts and Impossible-To-Spell-Something-About-Chocolate Square, almost fell off my bike laughing at a pack of tourists on Segways, took in Alcatraz, talked shop with some windsurfers and kiteboarders at Crissy Field, and before I knew it I was freezing in the shadow of the Bridge.

Now, I tend to observe a rule, perhaps unconsciously adopted from Goonies, that one should never go out the same way that he came in. Thus I went up and over Presidio, descended into Golden Gate Park, went out via the Panhandle, and did the Wiggle back into Mission. All told it was probably a 19-mile bike ride, which is not too shabby considering that graduate school has destroyed any trace of my athletic physique.

Tonight my legs feel like rubber, and tomorrow they will no doubt burn like crazy. However, I know that in those Fires of Tomorrow will be forged the Iron Legs of Thursday, and such are the legs that will carry me forward into the summer.

California Here He Comes

Okay ya’ll, listen up. In not too long an hour I leave for San Francisco, and by this time tomorrow I will be snug in the womb of Mission, no doubt suckling at a maté and swaddled in soft cloths of florescence. Indeed, such will kick off a two-month pilgrimage back to my beloved west coast, and I intend to greet the Pacific with a roiling fury heretofore unknown by its vast depths.

Upon my back I carry three books, three of my favorites, which set the proper rhythm for this grand excursion. One, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, written in a brilliant prose that one day I hope to emulate, if not the drug-wild carnage that lent to its inception.

Two, John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise, a champion of creativity and invention that has given more to the imagination than anything of late.

“I am not romantic about squirrels.”

Aye, lad. Nor am I. Nor is anyone, for that matter. But a good point to clear up, nevertheless.

Finally, The Dharma Bums, notable as Jack Kerouac’s best work. Yes. I still call bullshit on On the Road, even after reading it three times and despite the accolades layered upon it.

However. I am ashamed that I left my copy of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America back in Indiana, and I feel that somehow my San Francisco experience will be incomplete without such a cultural field manual. No matter. I am certain that the San Francisco Public Library has at least a hundred copies and an entire wing named after the author. All I need to secure a copy is a prescription from a doctor with questionable credentials, and the brilliant spoils from one of the city’s many LSD dispensaries.

It’s been said before but it’s worth saying again.

It will be a lovely summer.


Our trip to Boston was great. Our favorite part was the cemeteries.

The CHI Student Design Competition went well. Our poster went through about fifteen revisions until we called it good, but all that hard work definitely paid off:

CHI Poster Revision Animation

Out of twelve finalists who presented posters, our team was one of four chosen to advance to the final round. Thus, we spent the next three days with our faces in our laptops, putting in 17-hour days working on our design presentation. We didn’t get to see a whole lot of CHI as a result, but we pulled down fourth place in the design competition, which is pretty cool considering there were, like, 70 original submissions.

As an aside, I’m not so sure that having the final round be a “competition” between four teams is really the most productive way to advance the state-of-the-art of academic interaction design instruction. Rather, a panel where each team openly shares its design process, discussing any hardships, techniques or insights discovered along the way, would encourage collaboration, and redirect competitive energies towards actually improving design education in the world. Interaction design is far too young a field, and there are still far too few of us in the community, for us to be actively snapping at one another.

So that’s that. Boston rocks. CHI existed. Jon Kolko is awesome.

Meanwhile, I really need a haircut. Fortunately I have been signed up for an extra-swanky one this summer, as I’m going to be working as an intern at Adaptive Path. Yes. Five years ago I slept in my car on my drive from Bend to San Francisco, to attend a series of workshops about redesigning Blogger and building Basecamp. Those workshops, hosted by none other than Adaptive Path, blew my mind wide open in regards to human-centered design, and set me on the path that ultimately led to the HCI/d program at Indiana University.

Yes. Adaptive Path. Needless to say, rollin’ with those homies is an honor beyond my wildest dreams, and I can barely sleep at night out of excitement for what awaits. It’s been a lot of hard work, a ton of thanklessly hard work, to get to this point, but it’s beginning to seem as though it was all worthwhile.

Meanwhile, how about a few samples of some stuff I’ve been cookin’ up, lately? I’m putting together an Akzidenz-Grotesk type specimen book for my typography class, and my theme is “European opulence meets American ruggedness, via turn-of-the-century railway hotels.”




It’s still a work in progress. Notably absent is any usage whatsoever of the typeface Akzidenz-Grotesk.

And finally, this is just plain awesome:

“It doesn’t fit in a Rolodex, because it doesn’t belong in a Rolodex.”


After finishing some client work this evening I intended on watching Into The Wild, which just arrived from Netflix. For ten years it has been one of my favorite books (its challengers include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rand McNally U.S. Road Atlas) and I have to admit I was a little bit apprehensive to watch the movie.

My nerves about it are prickly not because of the usual “OMG they better not ruine mine favorite Book!!1!” but because I’m afraid of what I might find out about myself. You see, aside from the whole “starving to death in the wilderness” thing (which I’ll admit has a fair amount of romance to it), I want to be Alexander Supertramp.

At least, I used to want to.

Or do I still?

My post-collegiate path has been a winding one, both of place and of being. The spring I graduated from college I skipped my graduation ceremony so I could leave Minnesota and start driving to Oregon just one day sooner. I loaded up all my worldly possessions in the Green Dragon Wagon, not knowing if I would be gone for three months or three years. In the end, I worked as a windsurfing grunt until I ran out of summer, a snowboard instructor until I ran out of unbroken legs, and a web designer until I ran out of Vicodin.

I stayed in Oregon for two years and lived in two towns, moving back and forth between them until I moved back to Minnesota to work as a wilderness guide. I took an eight-day Wilderness First Responder course. I met someone lovely. I spent three months growing a beard and living in the woods. That fall, my reintroduction to civilization involved getting choked up over such amenities as toothpaste and ice water.

The following summer I did it all again, only this time I was joined by someone lovely. I grew a beard. I stomped through Yellowstone for twenty days with five guys and three mohawks. That fall I moved back to Oregon as my love traveled all over the Western United States, living outside and learning about land rights and trying not to freeze to death. We reunited that December, though she was kind of freaked out that I had shaved my beard.

For 1 1/2 years now I have been planted in Hood River, working with the intertubes, kiteboarding during the summer, snowboarding during the winter, and occasionally visiting Walla Walla for some reason or another. In four months Kate and I will be moving across the country to attend graduate school at Indiana University, she to study environmental policy and me to study interaction design. After finishing my program I want to be involved in some Pretty Big Shit in my industry, which likely means I will no longer be taking three months off at a time to guide trips or teach snowboarding or fret about not having work during those unfortunate “in between” seasons.

Aye, and there’s the rub.

Part of me thinks that I’m ready to move on from this lifestyle. Another part of me fears that for all these nomadic experiences, for all this living in the outdoors, I have still managed to miss something, some hidden meaning. This elusive nugget of truth drove Christopher McCandless in his travels, and is what gave rise to Alexander Supertramp. I’m certain that Christopher would agree with me when I say that the logical conclusion of this journey is something besides starving to death in the backcountry of Alaska. What it is, however, I haven’t figured out yet.

I’ve changed a lot over the last five years, especially over the last two, and I’ve noticed my nagging sense of wanderlust begin to fade. With it I fear my curiosity goes as well, my unconventionalism, my identity. I speak of piling all my furniture on the front lawn and burning it, and people laugh as though I speak in hyperbole. I do, to be sure. But for me, owning more stuff than will fit in my car is painfully embarrassing, every bookcase and file cabinet a trophy to defeat. I have lost my mobility, but I have gained… what, a sofa? A coffee table? These are changes I have not been dealing with well.

It was in this context that I started to watch Into The Wild.

I got as far as the DVD menu. I watched it loop a dozen times. My vision blurred and my chest tightened. A dozen times Christopher burned his money, hitchhiked to Alaska, grew a beard, and posed in front of the bus.

I turned off my television.

The Gallery of The Awesome

Last night I welcomed upon you a great injustice, in that I described a number of truly awesome products without actually showing them to you. Tonight I hope to make things right and proper, and with the help of this “Multi-Media” tool will magic their images to you, with absolutely no post office, telegraph cables, or Speak & Spell device involved.

First up in our Gallery of The Awesome, we have a Colon-Shaped Brownie Tray:

Colon-Shaped Brownie Tray

Next, we have a litter box designed for one-legged cats:

One-Legged Cat

If you thought the one-legged cat market was so small that it couldn’t possibly support more than one specially-designed litter box, you thought wrong:

Another One-Legged Cat

Last and certainly not least, we have Taylor Fay. He’s totally stacked in this picture, probably the result of his patented “ripping the legs off cats” workout:

Taylor Fay

That is all.