Taste The Rainbow

At first glance, I did not think that the Skittles website was an official site for the brand. But then I realized that Wrigley has come up with a genius way to market Skittles. The random quotes, stories and seemingly unrelated things should appeal to the sort of people who eat Skittles; at least the younger “hip” ones.

The navigation itself is rather simple. I’m not a huge fan of sites with a lot of downward scrolling required, but it actually works in this case. I can see people going to the Skittles site and just randomly reading the posts: perhaps with a bag of Skittles and a pearl tea sitting on the side table next to a comfy chair. Perhaps some Adele on the headphone? Or maybe that’s because that’s what I’m listening to right now…

See it for yourself at Skittles.com.

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Pricing For Creatives

I came across this blog post from A List Apart thanks to the RSS feed on my own blog. The author has some great pointers on pricing, and some good thoughts on why we should consider pricing by the service rather than by the hour for creative services.

Do you want to set the pricing or follow someone else’s lead?

Pricing Strategy For Creatives

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Design Trends To Avoid

Should you use the bevel and emboss? Should you add in-your-face drop shadows? Should you use the starburst effect? All of these question; and more, are answered in this relevant blog post from designshack.com; whose website looks to me like a cliche of modern web design (just kidding, but this trend is starting to fizzle too, methinks.


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App Of The Year (So Far)

This is by far my favorite app downloaded so far this year. It’s an app that promises a lot… So far, it works really well.

Let’s say you are in, Oh I don’t know, Target; and you find a nice pair of shoes (just for you, Stacey…). Is that a good price on that pair of flats? Break out your smart phone with the Red Laser scanning application and scan the barcode. You’ll know in a few seconds how much those shoes are going for at other local stores and at online retailers.

Check out the website for more information.


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Social Media Icons

One of the most pervasive trends in web design for 2012 will undoubtedly be the continued expansion of the role of social media in the online world, and in the real world for that matter. One of the tougher aspects of this can be in creating unique ways to envision the icons of the social media companies. I’ve normally traced the logos myself as needed, or used the files available from those company for web use. But what if you just need a simple way to represent, say Twitter.

What if there was a really easy way to get a Twitter ‘t’ or bird icon image? What if you it was just a click away in Photoshop or Illustrator? I recently discovered, thanks to the Outlaw Design Blog a font pack that has the logos of all of the major social media players, as well as a bunch of other companies whose logos you might want to incorporate into a design. I don’t even recognize all of the logos represented…

These obviously won’t work in every situation on their own, but with them, it will be much easier to, say, get the basic outline of the MySpace icon. I’m not sure what use you can find for that these days… But you’re creative, you’ll think of something!

Check out the blog entry at Outlaw Design Blog, and follow the link there to download the font for yourself. It’s free, and will come in handy.


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Thoughts On Blogging

I feel that blogging is a great way for businesses to get the word out about what’s going on in their world in a live and up to date manner. Some companies do seem to use them merely to get their web page showing up higher in the rankings on the search engines; but hopefully there’s more to why they are writing the blog entries than that

As someone who is looking into eventually starting my own web and print design business; I see blogging as a great way to get out the word about what I’ve been working on and showing off my design work in a more personal fashion. Looking at a portfolio is great, but if potential clients can read my thoughts on each project I’ve chosen to highlight, they should better be able to understand my design process and perhaps would be more likely to hire me for a project.

Until now, I’ve used my blog almost solely to highlight what’s been going on in my life. I know how to blog, I just need to shift the emphasis to bringing the light to my professional work.

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Horrible Logos Site

Last May, while waiting for the restroom at the Looney Bean Roasting Company in Mammoth Lakes; I saw a sticker on the bathroom door. The sticker said something to the effect of $5 for a logo that is guaranteed to suck. Naturally, I pulled up the website on my iPhone while standing there…

The business concept itself is rather unique:

Drawing bad logos for beer money since 2010.

I think the site is a rather nice use of what appears to be a standard WordPress theme. There are a few static pages at the top, and the main content area is samples of recent work. The sidebar has the pricing options for horrible logos and for horrible jingles.

I think that mostly what works is the catchy slogan and the concept. I mean, who wouldn’t buy their friend a beer for making a logo for their company? Why not your internet friend? I mean, just look at the horrible logo he uses for his own company!

Check it out…

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Favorite Hills In The Area – Version 2.0

To see the original list from September of 2009, follow this link: http://www.deitchman.net/blog/?p=116

This is my ever-evolving list of the toughest climbs in the area. I’ll only rank the ones that I’ve actually done. There are several good resources for finding the hard hills to try. You don’t have to just go out and ride to find them! Check out the following links:

Top 10 Hardest Climbs (that I’ve done!):

  1. Alba Road (3.8 miles -2050 feet -10.2% grade)-If you look at the stats, it looks significantly harder than Bohlman On Orbit Bohlman. But because of the flat parts on BOOB and the downhill, Alba is really about the same. It gets the nod from me as the most difficult because it has no real respite from the climbing. Once you turn off of Highway 9 near Ben Lomond, the climbing starts. And it doesn’t stop until you get to Empire Grade Road. A great ride, especially if you combine it with some or all of the other tough hills that top out at Empire Grade (Bonny Doon, Felton-Empire, and Jamison Creek.
  2. Erik on On Orbit

    Bohlman On Orbit Bohlman (4.3mi -2030 ft- 9%) -The pride and joy of Saratoga… This beast will make your quads scream for mercy. But regular ascents will make you stronger! Hah! The views are spectacular, especially when you are coming down the hill. It’s hard to look around when you are climbing since you vision is blurred by the superhuman effort that it takes to keep the pedals turning! Picture to the right is Erik Strom on the steepest part of On Orbit.

  3. Cyclists descending Mount Umunhum Road

    Hicks Road North/Mount Umunhum Road (4.1 miles – 2199 ft – 10.2%) -On paper, this climb should be harder than the others mentioned. But I think the average grade is a bit misleading since a large portion of it is the section on Hicks Road that is really steep. The ride up Umunhum is lovely, as the views looking out over the Santa Clara Valley are very nice. This is not a climb for hot days, but is well worth checking out!The photo the right is a group of my friends descending Mount Umunhum Road.

  4. Welch Creek Road (4.1 miles, 1910 ft, 8.8%) -Welch Creek is a very worthy side-trip from the Calaveras Loop. It’s a lovely ride on a seldom-traveled road in the hills south of Sunol. It has somewhat inconsistant grades, but is a great local hill climb that everyone should do at least once!
  5. Wildcat Variation of BOOB (4.3mi -2030 ft- 9%) -This climb has the same reputation as BOOB, though it doesn’t seem quite as hard when I do it. The first time I did it my time was 3 seconds faster than BOOB. And that was immediately after I rode my personal best time for that ascent!
  6. Quimby Road (5.1 miles, 2100 ft, 7.7%) -This shortcut to the halfway point on the ascent will leave you begging for oxygen. There’s a bonus though… The rest of the climb to the top of Hamilton will seem like nothing after Quimby!
  7. The oh so boring finish to Bohlman Road

    Bohlman Road (4.3mi -1970 ft- 8.8%) -Even without the detour onto On Orbit, this is still a crazy hill! The photo to the right is me at the oh-so-exciting end of Bohlman Road.

  8. Montevina Road (3.5 mi, 1760 ft, 9.5%)-The other side of the ridge that BOOB is on. This one is nice and sustained. And the steepest part is at the top where it belongs! You get bonus points for doing another hill to get there! This would make an especially nice out-and-back by riding BOOB, riding the .9 miles of fire roads connecting the two roads, and then descending Montevina before coming back up!
  9. Sierra Road (3.6 miles, 1800 ft, 9.5%)-Try this one on a hot day or at mile 150 of a ride if you don’t think it’s hard enough! I’ve done this hill so many times that I can call it mine. I love combining it with the Calaveras Loop and maybe Palomares as well. But that’s another blog entry…
  10. Jamison Creek Road (3.0 miles, 1470ft, 9.7 %) -This is sort of Alba Roads slightly tamer younger sibling. It’s damned hard in its own right. But when you put it next to Alba (which it pretty much is), it looks fairly mellow. This road makes for a great alternative when riding to Santa Cruz, as you can bypass the narrow section of Highway 9 by riding down Empire Grade. Of course, this “little” hill will kick your butt after having already done Highway 9-East to get to it!
  11. Joan on the hard side of Mount Hamilton

    East side of Mount Hamilton -This is one brutal climb! If it’s hotter than 80, it will be a sufferfest for sure… The climbing is unrelenting for 5 miles or so. The views will make the suffering worthwhile, of course! And the descent down the front side into San Jose will keep your attention as well. The picture to the right is Joan on the hard side of Mount Hamilton.

  12. Soda Springs Road (5.3 mi, 2250 ft, 8%) -This one may be a little out of the way, but the climbing is massively fun. The road is basically a residential road in the hills above Lexington Reservoir. This makes it lightly traveled. The only real downside is getting to it. You can take the gravel trail from Los Gatos to Lexington if you want. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you could ride BOOB, then ride down Montevina to get there. That would make for a fun ride… Especially riding back up Montevina or Black to get out of that area!
  13. Black Road (5.3 miles, 1780 feet, 6.3%) -It’s a rather annoying place to get to on a bike. But the hills out there are worthwhile! I still need to try Gist Road which looks considerably harder…
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Zen And The Lost Art Of Spotting

There seems to have been a shift in the bouldering world lately. I’m not sure where it started, but I have to blame the rise of climbing gyms and the passage of time.

When I first started bouldering as my primary form of climbing, crash pads were a brand new concept. When you went out bouldering, you not only had to know how to fall without injuring yourself, you also had to know how to spot other people. If you were getting on a boulder problem that had a sketchy landing, you’d ask for a spot. The idea was to keep your head off the ground, and hopefully guide you to the safest landing.

When Cordless first began marketing their crashpads, I of course bought one. Mine was the second generation of pads that they made, and I bought it on December 27, 1997. The pads made bouldering inherently safer by leveling out rough landings and made highball problems (generally considered anything more than 12 feet or so tall) a relatively safe pursuit.

As crashpad designs improved, manufacturers started making thicker and thicker pads. People were carrying what were practically mattresses to the boulders and making bolder and bolder lines where no boulderer in his right mind would have gone before.

In the early days, people still spotted. People still cared about the friends who they were climbing with. But along the way, something changed. And I think it has to do with the first generation of climbers who came into their own at a time when everyone had crashpads, and all gym bouldering areas were made of soft foam landings. In the old days, we had to contend with landing on old Teva sole rubber. And that wasn’t the best thing to land on from ten feet up, trust me!

These days, not only do people not spot you in the gym, they don’t spot you outside. It’s gotten to the point where I wouldn’t dare to ask someone who I didn’t know to spot me. You never know what kind of spotter the person might be. The friends who I’ve been climbing with for a decade or more, I know are capable of spotting in a way that will not endanger me.

I’m sure that a very big part of the problem is that an entire generation of climbers has come about without the need to go outside in order to climb. The landings in the gym are soft and padded with nice thick gymnastics padding: even if you do manage to twist an ankle, help is only a minute away. There’s no real need to be safe in that environment. Unfortunately, these climbers bring that attitude to the crags. I’m actually surprised that more people aren’t severely injured while bouldering. Perhaps it’s just the 10+ inches of padding they put under every problem; or maybe it’s just luck. But it’s unfortunate that the sense of adventure has disappeared from the sport.

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Becoming A 12 Percenter…

If I were to tell my friends that I am overweight, most would scoff at the idea. "You? Overweight? Have you gone mental?*. You run, bike, and swim for hours and days on end. How can you possibly be overweight?"

* I apologize for the random Wayne's World reference!

But there's another aspect to this story. My body has become so thoroughly efficient at accomplishing what I throw at it in terms of cardiovascular exercise that it doesn't burn as many calories as when I first started doing these things. So I never really go into caloric deficit as long as I keep eating while I am working out. Also, the long distance work doesn't put enough stress on the body to make it burn more calories and get stronger.

The whole reason to lose a bit of weight is to get faster, stronger and to look good in a bikini… Okay, so I'm kidding about the bikini*. I also want to be more flexible (I used to be able to touch the floor with my palms while standing with straight legs!), have a lower resting heart rate (the last time I weighed under 185, my resting heart rate was under 45) and be able to beat Bob Corman on Old La Honda again (it's a modest goal! Kidding!*)…

* Or am I?

I began taking strength training classes at Integrate Performance Fitness last month, and am slowly getting stronger. I've also started going to a weekly spin class, also at Integrate. The aim is to add more intensity to my workouts, so that I burn more calories and get stronger and faster.

Since that alone doesn't work fast enough to lose substantial weight quickly, I've also begun to limit my calorie intake. The "normal" calorie consumption of a sedentary person of my height, goal weight and age should be around 2300 to maintain a steady weight. I've been tracking my calories for 8 days now, and haven’t gone above 2700 (and that was on a day with a couple of hours of intense exercise). I’m trying to lose 1.5 pounds per week.

So far, I am down from 203.6 pounds to 201.5 pounds. I can already tell that this process is working. And as the days go by, it becomes easier and easier to stay away from the junk food. So, though I am hungry; I know that the result will be worth a couple months of suffering to attain. Going from 21% down to 12% won't be easy, but it will be worthwhile!

Now, if I could just get my ankle healed so I can start running again!

Update, November 30… Day 16.

After 16 days of cutting back on the calories, the results are beginning to show. On the scale, I’m down to 199.3; though I feel better than being in calories deficit mode for more than two weeks should allow. I’m currently at the lightest weight I’ve been since before the American River 50 Mile Run in March, and feel like I am making good progress.

So, I’ve lost 4.3 pounds in 16 days. At that rate, I’ll be below 190 shortly after the new year begins; and down to 180 by mid-February. Hopefully my willpower can last that long! I feel that this will help my cycling and running more than anything else. Again, the motivation is to kick ass in the hills again…

Update, December 12… Day 29.

So, it has now been four weeks. I am now down 9.2 pounds, at 194.4; and well on my way to my target weight.

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