Sunday, April 26, 2009

Noticed: De-motivating workouts

This April, my gym membership was up for renewal. It's a great gym, close to home and down to earth. I set up my renewal and with it got on something called ActivTrax which helps create a customized workout for you each time you visit. Prior to being set up with this service, I was required to meet with a trainer who would have me do some basic exercises to see where I am at and suggest further exercises accordingly. I've been working out steadily for at least 4 months now and feel pretty good about where I am physically. I'm even 10 lbs. lighter. 

The trainer took me through the exercises and then fed the results into the computer. Several days later, I went to the gym for my first workout. After this workout, I entered my weights for the day, commenting whether they were "too light," "too heavy" or "just right". For the record, I am a bit over 5' tall and average weight. As I input "just right" to the suggested weight workout for the first exercise, a note popped up that said, "this is particularly light, are you sure it's right?" Am I sure? YES, I'm sure. I'm female, I'm not an athlete, and yes, right now, I cannot lift 100 lbs. even assisted by a machine. This happened with each exercise in succession and has left me with a large bruise on my ego. 

And's bad enough the machines at the gym are barely alterable to my size. Now, I have the added insult of a machine telling me I'm not strong enought. On one hand, there is the negative motivation: "Well," I think, "yes, I can only lift 1 plate now, but wait a few weeks, I'll be lifting plenty by then!" On the other hand I think, "I'm a petite female and this ridiculous machine (apparently programmed by men, strong men) gives me no credit for what I can do in relation to my age and size. Why should I even bother" It's a bit maddening if not humiliating. 

I continue to use the machine, which gives me weights that are at times too light and not enough reps on exercises. So, hah, I think, I am stronger than you think I am after all. I'll show you. I'm pretty sure the computer cares not at all, but it's quite interesting how motivating it is to want to get back at that inanimate object for thinking you are a weakling. Talk to me a in a month or two when I'm flexing my muscles for the keyboard. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Logo Hell

The long and short of it, don't use online logo companies to save money. In fact, don't use them at all.

As a small business start up, I was working to keep expenses down and thought an online service would be a suitable replacement. Despite what Wired said about, they are not a suitable replacement for a real, live, talented individual or group of designers. I apologize to all of my graphic design friends for attempting to commoditize their skill!

I do know enough to not design a logo myself. I have now learned enough to say only trust a trained professional to create your logo. Don't try this at home! After showing a logo I can honestly say I was excited about to my design friends, they were quiet or nodded. One friend piped up and said she would rather design me a logo for free than let "bad design" be out in the world. Ouch!

The sad thing is, turns out she is right. When I contacted the Logo Company and told them of my dissatisfaction (admittedly, after I had signed off on the logo), they asked what I wanted changed. My answer? YOU are the experts. You need to fix it. There were apparently kerning and quality problems I wouldn't know to look at. After a final round of emails, I got a few tweaks to my design from them but nothing lovely resembling the work from Geez Louise.

It doesn't look like I will get my money back, but I can keep you from losing yours with a seriously sub-par online provider.

Hopefully, you can tell, but on the top is the Logo Company's design and on the bottom Geez Louise. Your vote?

Seen: Yes We Can

Yes we cans! These very cool sculptures, largely of cans and a few boxed, dried foods, were spotted in a local mall. It is a great way of making the food pantry and a food drive visible. So many people stopped and enjoyed them!

Wall-e and Eve


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Garage Extraordinaire

One of my favorite examples of user friendly parking is right here in Portland. The garage at the airport has excellent signage.  They tell you: how many spaces are left in the garage, which direction to drive to find those spaces and then there are small lights over every parking space that are red or green (see above), alerting you from afar to an empty space. Finally, some intelligence comes to parking. 
However, I do recommend staying away from the parking lot in the Lloyd Center in Portland, the complete antithesis of anything user friendly or easy to figure out. It's a parking nightmare with vague and missing signage. You can check in, but you may never leave. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The New Creative Economy

I attended a lecture tonight about the new, creative economy here in Portland. How to get creatives working again and what companies who are still in business are doing to stay in business. Three things stood out:

1) My favorite piece of advice was to become indispensable. This can work if you are self-employed, a full-time or a part-time employee. Be the person they want/need and turn to for your expertise. 

2) The question was also asked of the panel: "Tell us a good story of a time when you were unemployed." I won't rehash them here, but they were funny and sad and yet, enough pounding the pavement got each of them a job and got them where they are today, at companies like Nau, Weiden and Kennedy, 52 Limited and VizWerks. Are you employed now? Were you unemployed previously? Would love to hear more tales of joy or woe on the topic. 

3) There were a number of individuals in attendance who are on the political side of the creative economy agenda. One of my biggest concerns of late are the amount of design and creative schools popping up in Portland (which is great), and the lack of places to work post graduation. 

Freelancing and consulting and running a small business works for some of us, but many still need/want full-time employment. There was much talk of getting funding for arts education, but little talk about where exactly all those creative students would work if they wanted to stay in Portland after graduation.  My talented circle of friends and colleagues - MANY of whom are un or underemployed, are a testament to this ever increasing problem. I'm in search of a committee to join to be part of the solution. 

Some interesting numbers on the Portland Metro area arts and culture and employment:  Creative Capacity.