Mar 4 2011

stuff is not an investment [day 282]

I had an eBay business while I was doing freelance work several years ago.  I started eBay for one simple reason.  I sell my Syquest Sparq drive and cartridges.  Back in the late 90’s, the Iomega Jaz drive was the industry standard for backing up you data.  They were great, but they cost a lot of money.  The drive was around $400 and the 1GB cartridges were $100.  I was really excited when Syquest came out the Sparq drive.  You could get the drive for half the price of a Jaz and the cartridges were 3 for $100.   I bought one the same week they came out on the market.  They were running a design contest and the prize was 50 cartridges.  Wow!  With those I could get rid of all my 3.5 disks and a lot of my cd’s.  To the drawing board!  Digital, of course.

I entered 3 designs, and here’s the one that yielded me 50 of these amazing cartridges.

Yes, by today’s design standards, it’s lame, but it got me over $1,500 in digital storage.  Sweet!  As one of my friends said back then, I had enough of these to tile a small room.  That was all great until these drive started having big time issues.  The company replaced my drive at one point, but I already knew these were not going to last.  I joined eBay, sold off my new, unopened replacement drive and all of the cartridges for just under $2,000.  Before ceasing my good eBay business, I had done over 5,000 transactions and at several points, was a power seller. Continue reading


Jan 31 2011

stripping the super bowl [day 250]

The Super Bowl XLV in 2011 will be held in Arlington, Texas.  You can tell it’s coming when you drive through the area, as it’s completely pristine, even a smart phone snapshot looks like a postcard.  I suppose there’s many benefits to hosting the Super Bowl, like maybe being able to pay for the new stadium they built on land where homes used to be or local employment opportunities, as the area will need 10,000 more strippers immediately.  The merchandise sales from the licensed Super Bowl t-shirts, hats, foam fingers, cups and other stuff to clutter our houses, and eventually our thrift stores, will be selling for top dollar, although the news stations are warning people about the counterfeit items.  A caller on a radio show asked where to buy legitimate NFL items and was told to look for the tag with the hologram saying it’s legit, but to be careful because there are major retailers that carry knock-offs.

Now I find this a bit ironic that some dude on the street getting caught with fake merchandise if going to jail, but it’s legal for the major retailers to carry the fakes.  Yeah, I feel good about this, the retailers are making more profits, illegally.  I’m not a fan of counterfeit entrepreneurs, as I’m sure there are many other things that these people will spend money on and they could be providing legitimate stuff.  It’s sad that the big retailers can do it, and that’s not a problem.

So if I buy the fake stuff at a retailer, keep my receipt and go sell that on a street corner, will that get me arrested?  Hmmm, that might be a fun experiment.  Better yet, if I get caught selling t-shirts and they try to arrest me, I’ll just take off my t-shirt, then I would be a stripper and that’s okay.  Does anyone reading this want to be my one phone call?  Ooooo, I just created fake digital merchandise!  Wait, I’ll make my own Super Bowl logo.

Surely this logo would be no problem, right?  Here’s my line of t-shirts.

Okay, so these really don’t exist, but maybe they should.  If you’re going to buy some Super Bowl merchandise, just shop wise.  Don’t spend a lot of money, buy only things you know you will wear for a long time and only support retailers that are selling licensed merchandise.  Go Packers!!!  I’m not a football fan, I’m just from Wisconsin.  :)  If you would like to use these logo logos I made, feel free to copy them and use them anywhere you like.


Jan 15 2011

build it and they will come… [day 232]

Yesterday I had to shop for work again.  I’m designing an interactive wall that unfortunately need some new supplies.  I was mentioning the fact that I had to go to the store in front of someone that just heard about my no retail challenge.  He asked, “So, if you shop for work, isn’t that against your challenge?  Doesn’t that give you the getting-new-stuff satisfaction?”  Okay, so I’m not sure if those were his exact words, but you get the point.  Here’s the answer to that question.

Let me start by saying that shopping is extremely frustrating and a root canal might have been a better way to spend my time.  Here’s why.

Ikea. This store is a giant maze.  I only needed one thing from there, a couple sets of Dioder multi colored lights.  I go in the exit there because I can look in the “as is” section first, and it’s the quickest way to the spot where the lights should be.  After making my way through the cold warehouse part into the marketplace, I find the display.  Sold out.  After asking about the next shipment, I find out these lights are discontinued and they’ll be replaced with a new design.  The problem?  The new sets are not available yet.  I start looking for my bread crumbs and make my way back to civilization.

Walmart. Not much to report here, just another giant superstore that takes forever to get into.  They didn’t have what I needed, which was inexpensive, decent quality, modern digital photo frames.  I needed 5 that look exactly alike.  They had some cheap, low quality ones, so on to the next store.

Lowe’s. Now, I’m all about a hardware store, if I have to shop.  I decided to take a look for LED lights, similar to Ikea’s.  Low and behold, they had them, and for the same price.  These are actually a little better, as one controller will hold more daisy chained lights.  They had just gotten these in a week prior.  Continue reading


Jan 14 2011

11 rotary dial phones & 1296 gift cards [day 231]

A few years ago, in my “excessable” art show, I had a gift card rug made out of 1296 gifts cards from different stores.  The show was in July and I left the rug in the car a little too long in the heat, melting a good portion of it.

I recently used some of the gift cards in a video shoot.  I had to take them out and clean them up, as they’ve been sitting in my garage for years.  I’ve added a few to the collection, with thoughts of putting the rug back together.  Problem: no box tape and no retail shopping.  I need to get creative with the pile of cards.  I have a few ideas…

I did get creative with the pile of rotary dial phones that were used in the show.  I really had no intention of keeping them, but they’re just fun to have around.  I’ve used them for many photo shoots, video shoots and props.  Right now, they’re a permanent art fixture in my foyer.

Here’s some of the photos…

I know it’s crazy to keep all this stuff from my art show, but it’s not in a landfill and I do use it occasionally, or some of it, all the time.  I think I’ll hang on to the phones and gift cards for a while.  If I do get rid of them, I’ll make sure they go to a great home.


Dec 19 2010

cool art made from junk mail [day 207]

I got an awesome little gift a few days ago, unexpected and very much related to trash society.  The gift?  An origami box with a photo album inside, all made with junk mail and paper stuff from the recycling bin.  Check it out…

Continue reading


Oct 23 2010

who is Lee M. Cardholder? [day 149]

Let me start by saying I’m not a baseball fan, but I did watch the Texas Rangers game last night and it’s pretty cool that they’re going to the World Series.  As I typically do with any sports games, including the Superbowl, I watch for the commercials.  Last night was no exception.

Capital One had a commercial for their new Venture card.  I didn’t hear much of the commercial, but the image I saw on TV intrigued me.  The card pictured had the name Lee N. Cardholder.  At least I thought it was an ‘N’.  If it was an ‘N’, that would be ‘lean’ or ‘lien’, which being a graphic designer, I can recognize a subliminal message faster than the average bear.  I do it, all graphic designers do it.  It’s creative and fun, a hobby of sorts for us.  It’s like a designer’s secret language.    Continue reading


Sep 30 2010

bad design [day 126]

Yes, I’m a fan of apple products.  In the graphics world, their products are far superior and much more dependable than PC’s.  With one exception.  Power cords.  My G4 Powerbook went to my kids after almost 5 years.  It still works great, and it was my main computer until a few months ago.  It has to be plugged in because the battery is almost dead and we can’t buy a new one right now.  Not that I want to anyway with a $129 price tag on it.

My kids use this computer for homework, school projects, and sometimes games.  That is, until last night when power cord #3 caught on fire.  Cord #1 just quit working when it wasn’t in the perfect position.  #2 caught on fire after shooting sparks everywhere.  With all of the well planned, wonderfully designed products they have, how did a new power cord design not ever cross their minds?  The replacement cords cost $89, if I remember correctly.  The new MacBook cords are similar in design, but made from much stronger materials.  Will it last?  I have no idea. Continue reading


Aug 4 2010

what do the initials E. H. stand for? [day 68]

I had to design some t-shirts for work with a comic book / superhero look for our volunteers.  The associated website is everydayheroes.me.  The volunteers are our everyday heroes and the assignment was to use the EH, making into something similar to the S for Superman.  The turnaround time was quick on these, so not much design time.

Here’s what I came up with:

After getting teased about the design using the EH with everyone walking around with their hand cupped over their ear saying “ehh?”, someone said the ultimate, horrific words… Ed Hardy.  I’m pretty sure I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

So why does this bother me?  You should read my blog post on iembracechaos.com to fully understand, but here’s an excerpt:

…what statement are we making by wearing it?

  • I support financial insanity
  • Food… $12, gas… $40, mortgage payment with late fees… $2367, Ed Hardy t-shirt… priceless
  • My shirt cost more than yours! 😛
  • The tattoo would have been cheaper
  • So what, my parents paid for it

I could add to this list.  I guess when they saw the shirt, maybe they saw something like this:

Yes, that’s a menorah.  I’m pretty sure Ed has his name on just about everything.  What is so desirable about a shirt (or other Ed stuff) that costs a ridiculous amount of money and everyone is already wearing?  Don’t get me wrong, I like the artwork, and the quality of the stuff is good, but why does our society idolize it?  As far as I know, Ed is not supporting anything good with his money… the probably 90% profit he’s making.

So who owns E.H.?  Who knows, he could have copyrighted the initials, but E.H. has now become an icon.  Just like the smiley face and Walmart.  (yes, that’s a blog post too on iembracechaos.com)  Whether or not Ed technically owns EH, make no mistake, he owns EH.  We all get sucked into the marketing world, a culture where everything is well advertised and heavily sponsored.  Stadiums are named after soft drink companies, generic brands have large chain store names branding them and let’s not forget that WalMart in Frisco is on WalMart street and Ikea is on Ikea drive.  Even the paid camps for kids are sponsored by many businesses, all competing for space on the back of the camp t-shirts.  What happened to the good old days of propaganda?  Today, that would be something like this:

Okay, so today I’m belly-aching.  I’ll stop, but I do need to say that this saddens me.  I want to be stylish and wear fun clothing, but I want to make the statement that I shop smart, I support good causes and I sport some creativity in my choices.  People don’t know, when they see my Ed shoes, that I got them for free.  Yes, I’m against Ed here, and have used him as my ‘bad example’, but what I’m trying to say here is that we should all support retailers and brands that are supporting good causes and not ripping off shoppers to make large profits.

Here’s a photo I had in a gallery showing a few years ago I thought you might enjoy.

Blog post sponsored by trashsociety.com, a division of iembracechaos.com, and a subsidiary of the guy that designed and owns the original smiley face. ©®™♥