His chair in the canyon…

Down in an orange county canyon, there was a bar not far from the foothill towns. I was with a local, we had got some  beers in the afternoon, and now with the sun setting beyond the darkening hills, and the bar, noisy with a few people, dressed in leathers, where there are mountain lions, and cougars, and panthers, which give an air of danger, the possibility of an insecurity, not felt, or perhaps not imagined in the city around about.

It might be more dangerous with the humans around.  Who can tell a foreigner, in a strange place.  I have walked into bars in Boston, with closed windows and dim lights, where on enquiring, “do you know the way to route 93”, there will be a sideways look, a shrug, and not a word is spoken.  It is then you feel the danger, and the naivety of a stranger wandering into somewhere, other wise local people would never tread.

In the canyon bar, with the bikes in their heavy chrome jackets out there. Something wild, like from before, perhaps before the goldrush, or before the strip malls came, but wild all the same.  After the first beer, and you get to look around.  Enough sense of security to make eye contact, and read the notice board, and listen to the conversational hum, outside and in.  The engines and the leather, and the noise of the Harley’s arriving one by one, in groups of two or three.

In the middle distance, against the fence, just near another table, a chair with stencilled in red paint “Security”.  The chair was unusual,… it was the only metal chair out in the dusty courtyard, it was a nice design – polished alumium, with an art deco flair.., but it was there, heavily secured to the fence, with a padlock and a chain. The padlock, like most padlocks in the universe, had probably not been opened for some time, perhaps the key was lost.  The chair like the key, looked unique in the courtyard, populated by wooden tables and other things under the sun.

We wandered around the courtyard, looking over the bikes, chatting to the owners.  On returning to our bench, I noticed an older guy had turned up drinking beer in a large black leather tankard. Had sat himself down in the chair stencilled “Security”. Not talking, but secure in his position and role in the courtyard.  While all the younger people on bikes and in the bar, were talking and making life, here he was sitting on the secured designer chair, like he owned the place, if not for himself, for the security of the place, and I thought of a place in singapore, there was a guy there, who came in each evening, to play pool.  He was thin, and keen of eye, but possibly well into his eighties, and this guy could beat anyone at pool, and he drank a stack of beer, big schooner glasses one by one.  He would carefully place the beer on the side of the table, take aim and then pull the pool queue and let go, changing the universe once again with the successful sinking of balls, one by one.  Never said a word, never smiled, just played pool, with a kind of happy look in his eye.  He had his place, he came there every night… he probably still does…

There is something about having an older wiser guy, who’s lived through life, seen it all, and happy to not chatter away, making noise, but still keen to be there among the younger people who do, perhaps making the place a bit more secure, like a guardian angel in a way, a guardian about to become an angel of sorts, with old thoughts, and old ideas, of a world gone by. Thinking, drinking his beer, like everyday, sitting in his unique metal chair, with his name on it, in the yard, in the canyon, with the sun going down.


Design A Burger

Imagine that ! Design your own burger type joint. Aussie style would be “I’ll have a works burger – two eggs, and double beetroot thanks love!.”
Ingredients get thrown on the plate, and then after a short time with egg rings, salad, and a touch of bacon burning, you get your burger.

It is hard to find these kind of places in the USA. The burger has become not a simple food item bought on the way to somewhere, but something of an end in itself, with the idea of design it yourself burgers.

Last night, I managed to make it to a gourmet burger design restaurant with some work mates. We sat down and were handed menus. Having never had to design a burger before, i sat down with the pencil and ticked off a number of options.

From a design point of view, we were given 7 degrees of freedom of design, some optional, but for each degree of freedom of choice, there were many options, some of which could be combined.

Just a quick calculation – approximate now – we had around 37,241,747,201 burger variations, including the burger of the month choice, all for 3 standard prices. Amazing, really, that it would take that many burgers created to exhaust all possibilities on the do-it-yourself menu. I think its brilliant. The chance of anyone actually having had the exact same burger is pretty slim, but I guess many people would choose the same items through fear or force of habit, on the other hand, others might choose the most outrageous combinations possible.

BUT – I could not create an Aussie works burger out of all those variations possible.


Here is why –
– No beetroot
– No possibility to burn the bacon

Never mind, I love the thought of having created a great burger design, only ever to be made once, at high speed, eaten, and then forgotten, except perhaps somewhere in an electronic memory, at a gourmet Design A Burger joint – somewhere in time. By the way, I named mine “Fire Island” just for fun.

You only have to look at a great design to know…

so many times i get caught up in meetings and committees that hope to design without getting fingers burnt or hands muddy. Its as though pure thought on the right side of the brain can accomplish what God knew that could not. We have two sides of the brain, and in design we need to use both… don’t you think ?

Right, think of the Condor, I saw a few a couple of days back, and having read about them with static pictures in books, encyclopaedias, google etc… you get an idea. Not so bad, lots of nice words, a couple of photos, but there is nothing like seeing one, with its condor brain at work, flying, floating, a marvel in design, able to just work the air currents to its advantage… it’s acceleration and determination of eye so brilliant a design, and yet so close to extinction as well. I wonder what the bird thinks bout it all. But look I say, how much effort would it be to describe the requirements of design of a condor….

We used to have a joke at home… i dont know where i first heard it but it was God rolling out tubes of clay, saying, “These Earth Worms are Easy”.. and that is somewhat relevant to this post. Because intuitively we see a condor and we know its capacity, we see an earthworm and we know without reading its capacity, and we see any animal and we see a great design..

So when we want to innovate and describe somethinig knew and great, think about describing it in animal terms, or in terms that call to mind those great designs around us.

Redwood Trees Jade Rocks – the Condor and the Chipmunk

You really don’t worry too much about the weather when you only have a weekend do you ?  You just get in the car and drive, dont take much food really, a bottle of water, a leather coat, a camera – phone and a couple of key numbers.

 I started out that Saturday in a hotel in downtown San Jose.  I didnt get a lot of sleep, a domestic in the hotel room two doors down. The fight was colorful, and violent, with the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the friends of the guy, and the bitch inside, with bits of smashed plates littering the corridor, and piled up against the door.. tomato sauce spots, like animals had been searching for food scraps, but not blood at least..

The coast road route one, is perched halfway up cliffs winding south down through redwoods, and along the steep face of mountains highly indignant of the push of the pacific ocean plate, and rising up over it all, with the waves crashing politely down below, accross bridges and gullies with numerous turnarounds to take photos, and listen to the sounds of it all, in the quiet.  You have the sounds of the waves below, periodic in their motion, coupled with the sounds of cars passing by, with the odd car door shutting, and foreign voices muttering, about the cold and the bleak grey fog which comes in from the ocean.  You travel down and see that many have been here before, with names carved in seats, and bridges built during the 30s, to allow the road to continue south through and past Big Sur, and down through the county into SLO county beyond.

Living in Big Sur, some of the great thinkers and writers, people who came to think.  Henry Miller came to Big Sur to settle down and write, along with poet friends, and others who needed the environment to help them sort things out.  At least that’s the impression on me, just spending a day there. The giantess of the redwood trees and the rocks and things, that pass by as you drive.  I stopped a limited number of times, I know, that it was somewhat less than 82 times, because that was the number of pictures or video snaps I captured along the way.

A sense of huge forces then, shaping the earth on the edge of the pacific, and solid rock with jade poking through in Big Sur, and giant rocks and stones tumbling down into the water below. Beware the rocks my son, which gyre and gimbal in the waves.  The green Jade rock of metaphysics, which allows worries to be absorbed, must surely have assisted having past so many tons of Big Sur and the central coast, just feet away from the car.  Jade stones and salt water, the cure for all worries in metaphysical stone theory, I have  it on good advice.

Those things we do with video cameras to make life interesting, we worry about Zoom and Pan, and now worry free, I set the camera on the tripod on the stones, for which only an earth tremor would move.  For now I would set my Flip camera up on it’s red Eddie Bauer tripod, and just turn it on.  Hoping to extend the moment of the picture, with infinitesmal movement in the sky and in the grasses that moved in the foreground with the breeze.  Suddenly among the Jade and color of the blue ocean and the grey sky floated a condor, that rare californian bird of prey, so majesticly soaring.  It crossed the corner frame of the still camera, just in an instant captured, and then past.  The scene returned to normal.  I ran for the camera, grabbed it, and then with tripod in hand started tracking the condor as it floated past on the cliff face below.  Then it circled back, looking for something, and flying very close to the turnaround at the top of the cliff and road level, and accross the frame, about 20 feet in front.  Its wingtip feathers perfectly in control of its effortless flight.  It was looking for something near my feet, its head watching while soaring, and heading toward me.  Flashing through my mind, the injunction – don’t get closer than 150 feet to a condor – and here it was coming from left front to right back.  In the end it was too fast and flew right past the camera and down the cliff and out of sight. 

Quiet resumed, a chipmunk darted out of the grasses into the turnaround.  He was looking for tourist food or scraps, and then was chased back by a rather large seagull.  The drama over, there were no plates broken, no life lost, no one ate anything, no tomato sauce, and life returned to the quiet steady roll of the waves far below and a car or two passing occasionally. The man, the chipmunk, the seagull, and the condor, none of them worried, among the jade and redwood of the cliffs on the coast road at Big Sur.