Few words on Heisenberg.

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I’ve made funny comments from time to time that if you mixed “Roseanne,” “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” in a used Maple Syrup jug you would have something that resembles my life.

Which one do I really most identify with? Today it’s “Breaking Bad” because of the tree male leads that remind me of myself in different times of my life.

First there’s Jessie who reminds me of my youth who couldn’t get anything done right, everything turns to crap and I relied on the wrong people to help me.

Then there’s Hank, the older and wiser guy who’s still rough around the edges. He’s successful and faced a lot of his demons but there is one last big score that eludes him. When he finds out the truth he can’t believe he’s been lied to all this time and feels vulnerable and alone. While he’s been proven right in the past because of his diligence in the past, he’s been questioned and mocked for what he believed was true in the beginning. He’s had to work all this time to prove he knows his stuff while hiding his insecurities under false bravado.

Then there’s Walter White, AKA “Heisenberg” who took his fate into his own hands after he learned about his cancer and he might die in the near future. He needed money and he needed it fast and took what he thought was his best opportunity to make it by using his talents in chemistry to make it. Because of that, he got mixed up in a world he didn’t belong in… until he mastered it a little bit at a time.

The things Walter White has done to get to the top of the food chain isn’t for the faint of heart and hopefully none of us will have to go to his extremes, but let’s face it – we are all a little jealous of him (and the actor who plays him) because he’s able to change the rules to suit his needs.

I’ll admit it, there are aspects of Walter White’s life that I’m jealous of and here’s a short list of unconventional reasons why…

 

The Stripped Down RV

Let’s face facts, even as a graphic designer you’ve wanted nothing more than to get in a camper and go somewhere quiet where there are no cell phones, no internet, and hardly any electricity. The only electricity you have is the electricity you brought either through batteries or a portable generator. There have been times that I’ve wanted to get a bare-bones camper of my own, strip it out of everything besides the bare necessities, and outfit it with a desk large enough for my computer and a couple of monitors. Let’s not forget all the media I need and tutorial/How-To books in case I need help figuring out how to do something.

Call it a work vacation or a “workacation” – something I could really use right now.

 

The Underground “SuperLab” under the industrial laundry

Breaking Bad (Season 4)

Admittedly, maybe the Tricked Out RV for Graphic Designers (or meth cookers) might get boring after a while and there’s just not enough resources to get the high level work done. Imagine your own “Gus Fring” and “Gale Boetticher” getting together to build this incredible lab that would suit your profession or industry.

What would a Multi-Million dollar “Superlab” look like for Graphic Designers? I personally have no idea, but if I had the money to spend we would all soon find out. An underground lab might be a bit of over-kill but fact is, it’s always cool in the winter and warm in the winter because after a couple of feet the ground is a constant 55°.

A “Superlab” is ever man’s fantasy for the simple fact that everyone of us have encountered a situation where we can’t finish our work because we don’t have something that we need at that very moment. We either have to stop what we’re doing to get it or find a work-around if we can’t afford it. Imagine how much we could do if we didn’t have problems like that and everything we could ever need is only a few steps away.

 

Being “The BEST” at something…

Few of us have ever experienced that feeling of being the best at something. If we have, it’s been temporary; like that feeling we get from our boss or client giving us an “Attaboy” or if one of our pieces of work wins an award.

There’s nothing like knowing that you’re the best at something, and everyone else that matters knows it, too. It’s an addicting feeling and it’s not something anyone could give up easily. Imagine your girlfriend was jealous of you and your success and she was just like an earlier girlfriend of mine and she said something stupid like “If you loved me you would give it up…” What would you do?

Granted, cooking meth isn’t the same as graphic design – nor as dangerous. But it would be pretty hard to walk away from something knowing that you’re really the best. It’s why professional athletes stay too long, why actors keep making movies that are crap long after they win an Oscar, and other professionals refuse to retire at the end of their careers.

One of the reasons why so many fictional heroes or anti-heroes appeal to us is because our inner desire to be the best at something and we want to emulate those characters. We are preoccupied with competing and perfecting our “game” from business, art, to sports. If we could master this “one thing” all the other pieces of our lives would fall into place.

 

… And our product is in demand

This dove tails perfectly into being the best at something – imagine if your product was in demand. Doesn’t have to be graphic design – it can be anything. What would your life look like if everyone wanted what you could deliver? Would your concerns about money be a thing in of the past?

Would a lot of your other problems be in your rear view mirror, too?

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A Man Driven With A Singular Purpose.

The most important aspect of Walter White’s/Heisenberg’s persona is his singular drive to do something. Unfortunately it’s cooking an illegal drug which involves killing a lot of other criminals and some innocent people along the way. What would Walt’s life look like if he had stayed with the company he cofounded with his friend or friends from college before he sold out for “A couple months worth of rent payments and grocery money?” What if he put the drive to become “Heisenberg” into a company on the leading edge of chemical science?

We wouldn’t have a great story, but this fictional character could have enjoyed a pretty sweet life.

Instead we have a man possessed with the singular ambition to make enough money to take care of his family and eventually driven to create a pretty powerful empire and he wasn’t willing to compromise or back down. He was more than willing to do what he needed to do.

GusDeadBlowing up an adversary looks good on paper and it might be something a few of us sicko’s might fantasize while we’re stuck in traffic but we don’t ever stop and think about the collateral damage or the serious repercussions. There are always unforeseen circumstances. The lesson to learn from Walter White/Heisenberg is to find a way to be that driven to become a success while at the same time not ruin our lives at home and hurt countless of other people. That’s obvious; the real trick for me is to explain how.

The best advice I can give a graphic designer on how to be your own “Heisenberg” of our industry and in your own region is to actually do the work. If your work isn’t your hobby when you’re not getting paid to do it and you’re not spending your “entertainment” money on new how-to books and tutorials then you’re doing something wrong. Hunt down new opportunities and don’t take “no” for an answer. Throughout the entire series, Walter White never let a problem get in the way of getting the work done. He didn’t use a problem as an excuse to quit or take an unexpected vacation. Bryan Cranston and the writers of the show found ways for this character to power through the problems and find a way out. Many times the solution to his problems was the vast knowledge of science in general and chemistry specifically.

What if you could know everything there is to know about the elements of design, graphic design history, and the tools of the trade? And when I’m talking about tools, I’m not just talking about The Adobe Creative Suite, I’m also talking about rendering tools to create visual effects like aurora’s and fractals. THAT is how you become the ‘Heisenberg’ of graphic design!

Knowledge is power – and it’s a sure way to get ahead without whacking people who get in the way!

Working remote

I just uploaded on my cell phone the latest addition of the application for work for WordPress. The hardest part so far is being able to write out thoughts and ideas clearly. I have an idea in my head but I cant type as fast as my mind.

One of the things I wanted to write about is the passing of the Graphic Designer who created the Cover artfor

Dreams

I often have a dream that’s not a reoccurring one, but it’s a reoccurring theme.

I’m not talking about the one where I’m a captured paratrooper handcuffed to a metal folding chair wearing nothing but a brown fedora and combat boots while being interrogated by a blond, buxom woman wearing a black body suit and speaks with an Austrian accent who looks exactly like my wife…

… I’m talking about the dream I have about finding an abandoned place and making it my own. Recently I had a dream about exploring a piece of land that I owned and by a river that I didn’t know went through it was an abandoned mill building made out of red bricks and concrete. In this dream I said to myself that this would be the perfect workspace for me to escape the chatter and noise of my family when I was working up against a deadline. Once inside this building was sparse and bare, half the walls had been painted white while the other half displayed the bare red brick that gave the interior a warm yet outdoors feel.

As I was walking through this, I found a place to put a desk that magically appeared. I produced my laptop bag that I forgot I had around my shoulder and began to work. With no internet, no children or wife I’m able to accomplish work that I had neglected for years.

Once my wife discovered this space and where I was, she came up the idea of renting this space out to make some money, or to create the ideal studio for me to start my own company. As I continued to work more people that I knew from the past and always wanted to work with started to appear with their own desks and took up space on their own. As this dream progressed, this space stopped being my own.

CGD 244 Research E-Stores

Introduction

I was asked to look at E-Commerce sites for my CGD244 class and see what I like and dislike about the ones I frequent often. It was the first time I saw the trees via the forest. Why do I really like some stores and how come I hate others?

No… really? How come?

Here’s some brief answers. Keep in mind that there are some stores I love to visit but I’m frustrated by their lack of on-line shopping tools and some of them force me to spend my money elsewhere.

Good Stores

Utrecht – http://www.utrechtart.com/

Art supply store – Very dangerous! You will accidently spend too much money.

Amazon – http://amazon.com

This is way too obvious but Amazon has a special tool for shopping – The One Click purchase. After you’ve loaded all of your information on to their site you can chose the “One Click” option and not have to go through the hassle of answering the same questions over and over again.

L.L.Bean – http://www.llbean.com/

L.L. Bean is one of the best on-line stores; you could shop there forever and never have to set foot in a store. The website gives you the option of looking at all of the products and actually zoom in on specific items so there are few surprises when the items arrive in the mail. This site also has a secure shopping cart and asks returning customers security questions to make sure you’re you and not just someone else who just happened to sit at the same computer you logged into.

Green Mountain Coffee – http://www.greenmountaincoffee.com

This is an important website for web developers to take special note of; visitors can actually subscribe to flavors of coffee. Simply pick your favorite flavors and they will be delivered to your door once a month, either by the K-Cup or by the Pound. You can also find flavors that aren’t available in stores.

Zazzle – http://Zazzle.com

Not only is it painfully easy to buy items on this website, but it’s also easy to actually SELL items on this website, too. The process to upload images you create is easy and they even offer instructions on how to make sure you image files are ready to print on their media. It’s a powerful tool for Graphic Designers to show off their designs on products people actually wear and use.

Horrible Stores

Creative Encounters – http://www.creative-encounters.com/default.htm

I love this brick and mortar store, I go there often in person to buy supplies and to get the things I can’t get anywhere else like top of the line drafting pencils. I envy the webmaster of this website… Except THERE IS NOW ESTORE!

Michael’s – http://www.michaels.com/

There are a couple of reasons why I just can’t stand Michaels, even though I spend a lot of cash there. It’s a hard place for a male artist to take himself seriously when it seems so feminized and childish. There is no on-line store… but there are “wishlists.” You actually have to go to the store itself to buy the things you need.

Zepher Designs – http://www.zephyrdesignsvt.com/

Very similar to the website for “Creative Encounters” – Just an advertisement for the store with no way of buying anything on-line; I think the same person built both sites. Breaks my heart knowing that the place where I used to buy all of my art stuff as a kid doesn’t have a way for me to keep buying stuff from them now. Oh well… guess I gotta take a trip back to the old stomping grounds once in a while.

Norm’s Ski & Bike Shop – http://www.normsskibike.com/

There is nothing on the website that’s clickable and you can buy and you can’t browse items. It’s another “brochure” website just to get you into the store. Regardless… A Graphic Designer sometimes needs to get away from the desk and get the blood pumping. This is my favorite sports shop in the area. Go there often.

Why I Would Buy Products From Specific Websites

The most obvious answer is simple, I would actually buy items from specific websites that offer different payment options besides just credit cards. Sometimes if I’m buying from a website I’ve never heard of before then I’ll use PayPal and only put just enough money into my PayPal account to cover the items.

I’ll also buy from a store that will allow me to read reviews from other shoppers on the site. I search the internet for reviews and better prices but If I can actually read other customer reviews on the site, it’ll make my decision making process faster.

Why I Would Buy Products From Specific Websites

Nothing will turn a customer off faster than an amateurish looking website.

To actually make a website work for you, you actually have to have to give the customers the option of buying items on-line. Too many stores that have websites that I visit often don’t have shopping carts.

Some of these stores should have the option for you to pick out what you need and have all the items waiting for you in a bag and rung up at the register for when you arrive so you can at least do some on-line shopping. It’s frustrating to see something you want to buy on a website, then go to the store and have a problem finding that same item on their shelves (as it’s happened to me too many time at Michaels.) or see that they advertise an object on their website but don’t have it in stock in their actual store.

I would rather take the time to drive from Rindge NH to Utrecht in Cambridge, Ma, and know that I’ll find what I’m looking for when I get there than go to a franchise like Michaels and run the risk of not finding what I’m looking for while getting annoyed.

I also want to write a special note about Michaels again… while they have a lot of great stuff for artists and graphic designers – if you can find it – I’m annoyed by the fact that the store and the website is geared more for the elderly spinsters and idle-minded housewife that has nothing better to do than play at craft making. It’s not a welcoming environment for a man.

For reasons I don’t fully understand I always feel a little embarrassed by Michaels and I wish there were alternatives for graphic designers like myself.

The Five Types of Exposition.

Description: The Author hammers out a detailed text about what the reader should see in his or her own mind.

Comparison: The author illustrates what’s going on or the location of the action/drama by comparing it to something else.

Cause and Effect: How did something come to be? Let’s just examine what happened and how we got here.

Problem And Solution: Here’s the problem, and here’s how we (or our characters) can solve it.

Sequential: Here’s what happened, Step 1, Step 2, Step 3…

“The Lottery” Summery and Depth

Eric Fisk
ENG101
January 28, 2013

Summery

“The Lottery” is a short story about a small village and the annual lottery that is shrouded in mystery for the reader. While we learn about the quaint nature of the small village where this lottery takes place we are kept in suspense about what the nature of the lottery is about; what’s “the prize” and who benefits from it? We also learn that in the world of this story, other towns in the surrounding area – if not the entire country – have similar lotteries.

We are given clues that this lottery has existed for a long period of time, noting how the town had already gone through at least one drawing box that had been worn down over time. There were also legends surrounding the newer box, that it had been made from pieces of the older box or it was made out of brand new materials long ago. There was also special care taken by the author to tell the reader that so much time had passed since the lottery began that many of the age-old rituals had been abandoned or forgotten over time such as official speeches, pledges, and chants.

There was also a passage in this story about how some towns had already abandoned their annual lottery for reasons that aren’t clear to us.

By the end of the story we read that the “winner” of the lottery is stoned to death. We are not sure why this has to happen, why each year a member of the community who is picked at random has to die such a horrific death. We are left with more questions than answers…

What happened to society which caused such an atrocity to take place? Was there some kind of cataclysm or disaster? Was there a global feminine or plague that caused societies to keep their population numbers low? Or did modern society revert back to ritual sacrifice because of some superstition?

It’s the pondering of these questions that make the story truly interesting and sticks with the reader long after reading it.

Depth

As a reader who is concerned about the direction society is going, I was very intrigued with this story. To me, it reads as if the ritual of this lottery has become more important that the reasons why it was started in the first place.

Why exactly is there a lottery? That answer had been forgotten over time, and one character even stated that it was a bad idea to stop doing it without ever elaborating?

The characters follow through with this ritual without ever discussing why; there’s no talk with the children about why it’s necessary, they just do it. There is never any debate from the members of this society if it’s still a good idea to have the lottery or if it’s even necessary for that village to thin out their population by only one person each year.

What’s disturbing is that it’s an annual event that’s the center piece of a town’s fare that’s celebrated with food, dancing, and club events.

Looking at our own society, I have to ask if there are rituals of our own that we do blindly that have lost it’s meaning. Why exactly do we still have a “Fourth Of July” since we’ve lost sight of what the Declaration of Independence means since history has been watered down over the years? Why do we celebrate “Thanksgiving?” It seems to me to be a crazy ritual where families reunite each year only to rehash old gripes or slights; or even worse – not address serious problems year after year.

The important aspect of this story is that it makes the reader question why societies do what they do and if these rituals still have any meaning or purpose. Are there any dumb annual rituals we should let go of or at least re-examine?