Archive for the 'off the record' Category

no sweat! wrangler cool tech jeans

Wrangler Performance Jeans For Comfort

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Rugged Construction, Technical Stay Dri Material

They sure look like jeans. They sure fit like jeans. They sure wear like jeans. But they really perform like a cool breeze across a simmering swamp.

When Wrangler threw their hat in the powersports market, they took on a longstanding de facto preference for an iconic brand leader in the denim and leather category. Going up against Levi might seem a tall challenge, but not so much when you introduce some serious technology into the game. And decades of idling a Harley at a red light in the middle of a sweltering Florida summer meant I had a basis for comparison and the motivation to try something different.

In hot weather you’ll notice the difference immediately, and not by increments.

Florida’s climate can readily test that claim, but the real challenge lay about 700 miles west, where I’d spend a few days clearing timber and brush under an 85-degree Louisiana sun. I prepped my Cool Vantage Wranglers with Sawyer’s Permethrin to ward off mosquitoes and ticks, and to hopefully confuse any yellow jackets I might stumble into, before heading into the woods to see if their claim of cool comfort would hold up.

Cool Vantage Transforms Into Athletic Sportswear

I’m familiar with the performance of athletic sportswear, as well as the misery of conventional jeans, especially after they’re soaked with sweat that dams up underneath the waistband before spilling over to slowly trickle down my legs.

Along with a relaxed fit stretch model, Wrangler’s Cool Vantage dry fit material delivers the same level of advanced sports technology usually associated with brands like Under Armour and Nike, while maintaining the style and appearance of traditional denim.

At least they’d be no worse than my drawer full of regular denim. At best? That was what I was anxious to find out.

Wrangler Jeans perform

Wrangler did their homework when they figured out how to combine the dri-fit characteristics of athletic sportswear with the ruggedness of traditional denim jeans.

After strapping on my chainsaw chaps (further increasing the insulation factor), I picked up my Stihl and lumbered off into the woods. There, after a few hours of tromping up and down the ravines while maneuvering over and around the felled logs, I realized that what would have had sweat pouring into my boots was instead, apparently, wicking to the surface and evaporating. Not only was I noticeably cooler, I was measurably more comfortable as well.

I had one more test, wherein I donned a 4-gallon backpack sprayer filled with herbicide. Being able to shed my chaps meant a lot more freedom of movement, offset by the weight of the contents on my back. Adding another 40 pounds or so to a weigh-in north of 235 when clothing and footwear are included gave my legs a workout, and the jeans another challenge. The legs quit long before my Wranglers.

Here’s the verdict. They work just fine as everyday wear, and in cool weather nothing’s lost. But in hot weather you’ll notice the difference immediately, and not by increments. It’s night and day, while still retaining the sturdy work characteristics and working style of traditional denim wear. Cool Vantage is just that — cooler to work in, with the look and feel of what you’re accustomed to wearing.

the power of graphic design

Eiffel tower peace sign

How Visuals Convey Meaning

Jean Jullien is a French graphic designer and illustrator. Following the murderous November 13th attacks on Paris civilians, he did what he does best – illustrate.

The simple graphic that emerged from his brush and ink rendering was instantly adopted by social media as the world’s rallying symbol against the horror unleashed by lunatics intent on carnage. Recognizable, emotional, symbolic, evocative. Follow your heart.

an honest product

a perfect combination of flavor, value and integrity

It’s a lucky day when I discover product integrity, honesty, marketing savvy and economy in the humblest of packages. Blue Runner Foods cans beans, Creole sauces, and chili components at their Gonzales, Louisiana facility just off Interstate 10 halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. This is the only product carried by my local (Florida) Winn Dixie, but all their varieties are available on their online store.

The thing about red beans and rice as a staple is that preparation isn’t difficult. It does take some time, but unless you’re planning on feeding a junior high football team, it’s not really conducive to small batch quantities. I like mine simmered with a little chopped andouille.

After that, there’s not much else to say. Their web site is basic: down to earth, practical, easy to navigate and to the point. They process and can food. Nothing could be simpler, so why complicate matters?

aeron chair repair customer service

how do you repair an aeron? you don’t – it’s covered

edit 11-5-2012: Industrial designers Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick describe the original Aeron prototyping at Slate.com.

edit 3-6-2014: download Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair Adjustment Guide PDF.

In 1999 I graduated from a comfortably traditional no instructions needed sturdy and reliable Steelcase to a revolutionary and slightly intimidating Aeron after a test-sitting at the local Herman Miller showroom. This was prompted by the realization that my career as a print creative director would never again come in contact with a drawing board and that digitally correct office accessorizing could ease the transition.

Warranty coverage wasn’t given much thought at the time. Actually, it wasn’t given any thought, even as the notion of extended sitting in my new noir appliance approached certainty. As daily taken-for-granted use stretched well into the aughts, I started wondering if there was a Herman Miller policy for repairing past prime hardware.

Google quickly turned up warranty details – all out in the open, displayed matter of factly in large print and language anyone can understand – and the protocol necessary to initiate the process. Turns out, their warranty covers parts and labor for twelve years from date of purchase. Used to be ten. Applies retroactively.

how can we help you? no, seriously, how can we help?

First, when you purchase an Aeron, there’s not one whisper about shelling out for an additional “extended care” warranty. And even though Office Pavilion, the original dealer, no longer served my region their replacement, Workplace Resource of Florida, didn’t miss a beat. My simple email request for info was immediately answered with the necessary (minimal) paperwork attached: a warranty request form that asked for only basic information, mainly the proof of purchase serial number and birth date shown in the top photo. I filled it out. I waited for a response. Two days later I was in business. No beat down, no obfuscating. Their response in totality: yep, you’ve got a problem. Yep, we’ll fix it.

One month later, I answered a phone call from the tech to confirm the repairs. The repairs on site, I hasten to add. Granted, the chair’s not cheap, but I’d assumed that for a piece of nearly 12-years-old well used merchandise, whatever coverage I had coming would be carried out after drop-off to the nearest point-of-sale for the six to eight weeks necessary to complete repairs.

no user parts accessible? none

Bob the Tech showed up as promised, on schedule, wheeling in his portable work bench, toolbox and a couple of cartons of repair parts. An hour later I had what essentially was a completely rebuilt chair. And not just the visible wear and tear that’s bound to occur over a decade of daily use, either. My Aeron rehab visited every nook and cranny of my high tech and well used furniture. They didn’t have to. They just did.

Red tape? None. Superior service? Yes. Brand reputation? Polished to a blinding brilliance. Thanks, Herman Miller. For designing, marketing, and standing behind a best in class product. If you visit the web site, and I hope you do, please take the opportunity to enjoy a smile at the reference to design integrity in the making of video on the Aeron home page.

the last shuttle

america’s manned space program ends

One of our country’s finest engineering achievements is now just a memory, but my fascination with NASA’s space shuttle program over the years is recalled over on intersect, beginning with witness status of America’s first man in space, Alan Shepard, and experiencing the launch of STS-3 first-hand from the NASA causeway in 1982.

it’s betty lou’s birthday

Sobering is my reaction to this email today from Rob Gladden, VP at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Rob, as one would expect, rides to his Southern California office daily. And it goes without saying; he knows the rules. If you drive you should read this. If you ride you should read this. Don’t. Text. And. Drive.

it’s betty lou’s birthday

by Robert Gladden

Today is my daughter’s second birthday. While she doesn’t exactly know why everyone around her is even happier than usual today, as the years go by she’ll appreciate more and more how this day is special for her.

But this morning that was almost taken away from her. Continue reading ‘it’s betty lou’s birthday’

dropbox – the little widget that could

When a buddy in Baton Rouge recomended dropbox, I opened up with a suspicion-based defense of my not really that useful iDisc/Mobile.me online storage feature as being the same as, before politely thanking him for his interest and filing the info in “maybe later, sometime”. Times change, in this case a few months, and Bob’s your uncle, it works great for a whole bunch of stuff. Plus it’s infinitely better than Apple’s slower than a TSA patdown at a stripper’s convention alternative.

If you at any time need to backup critical data, synch client info, or work online from a remote location, dropbox is for you. Otherwise, just move along.

I could go on, but this Macworld review says it all, better, with examples. Dropbox Review | Macworld Wonder how long before they hook in a mail app to use with?

my (really big) kodachrome moment

scale of enlargement? try 12,000 percent

In the mid-’70s a client wondered if the new design trend utilizing large format color prints could be adapted for the welcome center to a golf course subdivision on Florida’s West Coast. One of the labs I used at the time – Dallas based Meisel who then also had a lab in Atlanta – was actively promoting the concept, including some of my own stock.

It was only when the finished size required was measured against the original media used to produce the image that eyebrows raised. My plan: shoot the scene, an early morning dew drenched landscape of a green framed with Spanish moss, on 35 mil transparency. In my mind it was simple: load up a Leica factory loaner with K25 and fire away.

Today, December 30, 2010,  is the last day a roll of Kodachrome will ever be processed. It is the end of an era, the end of a very large chapter in the history of photography. Read more of my story here.

nothing in common, really, except

Lena Horne And Frank Frazetta; Cultural Milestones

What to make of yesterday’s passing of songstress temptress Lena Horne and today’s death of Frank Frazetta? Culturally, they have not one thing to do with one another except that each carved a unique niche in our popular psyche.

They lived in the same eras – he white, she black – read mostly the same headlines, drove mostly similar cars, could easily recall a time without air conditioning, cheap long distance calling or air travel on a whim. Long distance. Does anyone even use the term anymore?

Lena’s smokey “Stormy Weather” always makes me glance upward, just to check. Stormy weather. Birds. Sky. Why?

Frazetta’s iconic “Death Dealer”, by the same token – wait a minute, that’s not right. But it is part of the overall lifetime of influences that define me, just like Lena, about how I feel and how I think and how I wonder about just what that is, that Stormy Weather.

Fantasy illustration, the Times calls it. Goth, legend, murderous mystic raiders astride heavily hooved war horses against a flame lit sky at twilight. It was Frazetta, and his peer Boris Vallejo, whose fantastic works were instantly adapted to chopper tank art as the perfect exclamation mark for the biker lifestyle. Then, anyway, before Conan became governor and Molly Hatchet’s lyrics sort of made sense.

There it is then, a circle formed climbing up through the mountains out of Chattanooga, heading for Knoxville one way or Nashville the other. Alone, fading daylight, blackness behind, straight pipes pounding off the pass, “Stormy Weather” plays in my mind as a summer thunderstorm builds in the distance, massive clouds turned impossible shades of pink by an already set sun, while the single warrior on the tank guides the way.

ps – happy 20th birthday!

PS as in Photoshop, that is.

This year Adobe’s flagship application turned 20. Before, and thankfully briefly, there was bitmapped hell, which didn’t look like a giant killer as far as the graphic arts were concerned. But with the introduction of PS, the brothers Knoll were about to change the course of human history.

You don’t have to take my word for it. What Photoshop did was nothing short of revolutionary in terms of changing the way we, humans, communicate. And by pairing their imaging software with the first editions of desktop publishing in the form of Aldus’ Pagemaker, publishers – at least those able to afford fledgling Mac computers – set sail for an unimaginable brave new world. Continue reading ‘ps – happy 20th birthday!’




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