Work the System

June 30, 2008

I’m excited about this new book I’m reading call ‘Work the System‘ by Sam Carpenter’. I read over 50 just over the weekend. One thing that I learn from ‘The Well Read Life’ by Steve Leveen and Bookography method is that if a certain book speaks to me, which it does, meaning that if a book is in sync with one’s own interest, it will take the reader past the 50 pages in a short amount of time. If one struggles to get to 50 pages, then the book is not speaking to that particular reader. This book speaks to me on several levels and it made me realize that I’ve been trying to improve certain systems in my life. One of which is a better reading habit. I saw these series of mini organization systems which I’ve research to find the right product or method or books to improve. One of the documentation process of Bookography is to write down when a book is discovered. About a week ago, I discovered Work The System (WTD) one morning as I was driving to work. I heard on OPB an interview that Christian did with Sam Carpenter. The emphasis was that Sam had reduced the work week from 100 to 2 hrs. Although, I think this is great but the deeper message and meaning is that Sam’s perspective looks at the world and work through a series of mechanical systems.

This book speaks to me because it encourages writing down and documenting the process. It has made me re-look at the Steven Covey system of Goal Setting or other paper writing down methods of goal setting which Sam calls “The Strategic Objective”.

Although, it is a book about mechanics and systems, Sam writes from the heart. He has lived through the chaos. There is the element of narrative and epiphany as our hero become changed and improved. It has ingredient for a good story.

It made me realized that I was working (and still am) the system of paper and software organization in my pursuit of Getting Things Done (GTD). It is just a system of my entire daily work. Work the System (WTS) also relates to GTD because it is based on logical and mechanical percepts. I recall the flow chart from GTD. GTD is a micro of the WTD macro. Even though, David Allen encourages the reader to ‘Trust the system’, have faith and believe in it, I re-look at GTD as a system under the umbrella of WTS. I also search my mind for what else was under this system and to my surprise, David Schnarch suggests that Marriage is a System in his book ‘Passionate Marriage‘. The two seems to contradict each other. How can a system be passionate and how can one get passionate about a system?

There are some people who will not like the underlying message. Looking around the world which functions with out guidance from human beings or a supreme being.

I’m still reading and taking notes but I thought that I put it out there for your consideration.

xfm UK radio

June 26, 2008

I mention before of listening to music while I work. The internet has changed the nature of local broadcasts. Now, I can listen to radio being broadcast from the UK. While there are many internet music players, Internet radio still serves a purpose and that is to bring a voice, a flavor of the local to the world wide web. Xfm has been around in the UK long ago, since 1997. I remember back in the hey days of the Alternative Indie invasions from England. Such bands as The Charlantan’s UK, Ride, The Stone Roses and few others were making big waves in the US radio charts. There was a revival of the Liverpool scene. Back in the early nineties, I was still listening to cassette tapes from such band as Paul Weller. Xfm has finally moved into the internet age. Xfm brings in a social media aspect by asking listeners to upload their songs for submission for air play. The less talented can submit for contest to win prizes, concert tickets, and other general good stuff. During their internet unveiling there are bound to be lots of giveaways. Because it is on the web, there are picture galleries, videos, podcasts, and loads of other interactives. This time around, I will be exploring the music straight from the source instead of getting my latest news from Dave Kindel on MTV News. I’m looking forward to requesting songs via email. While innovations in the music services sector are good, I sometime just want a straight radio station that I can access via the net without too much bells and whistles, just like back in the days of old that Van Morrison talks about in his songs when he mentions listening to the wireless. Only today , it has a whole new meaning.


I came to know the work of Ryan Loghry through his comment about the Hand book Journal. Tonight, I’m interviewing him through a series of emails. The following is our exchange:

Duc: Hi Ryan, Thanks for your comment on my blog. I checked out your work.  I though we could talk about the Handbook Journal and feature some of your work. I thought your blog post about self publishing on Lulu helpful and your possible book making with Blurb. I’ve been wanting to put a book together of my photographs too.

R: I would recommend Blurb very highly. The software was quick to download, and easy to use. I received my book in a timely manner, and it was very high quality. I would rate Blurb over Lulu, by far. I would like to make sure and include a digital photo of the plastic pouch inside the journal. I keep a few of my postcards in there, with my contact information, just in case I lose it, or in case I meet someone. One of the few negative comments I saw regarding these journals referred to the plastic pouch/envelope falling out as soon as the person opened it. I have found them to be quite sturdy.Ryan\'s Journal Pouch


D: I keep my business card in the plastic envelope too for that same purpose. Do you use watercolor on the page? I wonder how it response to it? What is your medium for your drawings. What is the concept behind your work?
The thing about Lulu is that it requires high quality scans. Some of my photographs are not that large and I intend to make a small book of small photographs. I will try Blurb. I notice that Blurb is available through Flickr.

R: My process is to do pencil drawings in my sketchbook, then do a hi-res scan, and if needed clean up in Photoshop. I add a layer or two in PS to paint the color on. I usually do skin tones on one layer, and the rest of a character on another layer. I turn the opacity down on the color layer, so that the pencil shading shows through. Sometimes this gives a color pencil look to the piece, and other times a watercolor look.

D: What sort of inspirations do you use for your creative process?

R: I find I don’t really need to be inspired. I seem to have ideas bombarding me all the time. I have several children’s books which are at various stages of completion. If I’m ever really stuck for something to draw, I pick an illustration or character to develop for one of these stories. I listen to a lot of classical music, and jazz while I work, I suppose that’s inspirational. This is the link to the local classical station which streams online:

My favorite medium is pencil on paper. I use mechanical pencils mostly, a 5mm, and a 7mm. I use the Global handbook we’ve been discussing, and for larger drawings I use the Canson blank book: CANSON-Blank-Cloth-Sketch-Books. Both of these sketch books have a heavy, high quality paper. I also like to dabble in pen and ink, and oil paints on canvas. I have not used water colors on the Global handbook, but that’s an interesting idea. I still have some water color pencils lying around here somewhere, I could test that out.

D: Oh my gosh. That’s very interesting. I listen to allclassical at work too because it’s nice background music. It’s a local station in Oregon you know?!? That’s an eerie connection. I find that sometimes I get lost in the music. There was one incident where I read about an architect who started to draw on the back of these classical concert programs as he was listening to the live concert performances…I recall seeing one drawing what was rather interesting and it reflected his mood I suppose. I’ve acquired more knowledge of classical music in the process. What I find fascinating is the relation of classical music in the Bugs Bunny cartoons. There you have music mixed with drawings. I believe allclassical has made a special tribute program featuring these early exposure to classical music in our childhoods.

R: Are you in Portland? I didn’t realize that. haha…Small world. I’m just north of Portland. In a small logging town, Yacolt, Washington. I attribute that habit (art/music together) to my exposure to those cartoons, and one art teacher I had in high school who constantly had classical music going while we worked. I can’t listen to classical music without some sort of storyline appearing in my mind. If the idea is strong enough, I draw up storyboards for it. Unfortunately I rarely have time to animate these days.

D: Yep…I’m in Portland. I’ve not heard of Yacolt.

That concludes our conversation.

Some related posts:

Interview with Bluebird Studio

James Joyce

June 23, 2008

06/22 Alex gave 5 stars to: James Joyce (Oxford Lives) by Richard Ellmann
recommended for: people with an interest in Joyce or modernist literature
status: Read in June, 2008

It’s hard to imagine, for me at least, a person who read <i>Ulysses</i> or the <i>Wake</i> and was not initially baffled. Even after staying the coarse, reading and re-reading, to get one’s head around it (two years!), one must have to say in his or her head: What could have been going on this man’s mind? I personally was compelled to learn more about the man who penned <i>Ulysses</i> one of the most offensive, blasphemous, and uncomfortable reads in its day. Along comes our friend Richard Ellmann from Oxford, preparing one of the most ambitious and delightful biographies to grace the shelves.

Weighing in at 900 pages, this volume is overwhelming with detail and insight. Extracts from letters, memoirs, and journals provide a window into the mind and personality of the Irish writer. Anecdotes of Joyce’s antics pepper every chapter, which is also littered with hundreds of notes each.

Joyce was poor, lazy, spoiled, conceited, coarse, and rude. Seriously, he was bastardly of Hemingway proportions. “The only parts that weren’t boring were of myself,” James wrote of his brother’s diary. But the chronicles of his romps through Dublin and Europe are complemented with Ellmann’s writings of the resonating brilliance that was his literary genius. Some chapters could easily function as a critical essay of Joyce’s works, and a few were published by themselves as so.

Yet, this story is not just about Joyce. The narrative seems to account the entire literary scene in the early 20th century. It’s an intellectual pleasure to watch the literary movements unfold, and plenty of other writers will get some screen-time.

The work has garnered some criticism, the one that I know of comes from John Barner. He claims that there are a few factual errors, but also that Ellmann often takes up a disdainful tone when elaborating on Joyce’s social foibles. Personally, I found this to be amusing and compelling, and a strength to the work.

This was a good read. Just about mandatory for any Joyce enthusiast, if they all haven’t read this already, but anyone with an intrigue on writing fiction, reading fiction, or into Modernist literature might want to try it on.

Finally: New memo pockets!

Originally uploaded by Kasaa.

Hi Duc,

I’ve always loved patterned paper and stationery products. I have a huge collection of – mostly unused – blank books (I have to admit I’m not so much into writing). But I’ve also had a couple accordion file folders for quite a few years, which I used a lot. I think they’re great tool for organizing all kinds of things – receipts, letters, important files…. All those things that clutter ones desk or get lost in drawers.

So last year I was trying all kinds of crafts (woodworking, sewing..) and also decided to have a go at bookbinding I made several photo albums and one day I looked at my old accordion file folder and thought I could give that a try.

I also own a small Moleskine memo pocket, they’re great and I still use it for my stamps. I like the classic look of the moleskine products, I also make some simple classic style memo pockets covered completely in booklinen but even more than that I like colorful patterned papers and vintage fabrics.

Best regards,

Postalco Photo shoot

June 6, 2008


Postalco 64

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.

Previously: postalco-arrival

Here are some more pictures of the Postalco notebook. I didn’t do this notebook any justice with indoor lighting. So here are some of the day light shots in my bar table. The cover folds back nicely. The spine is protected with the cloth cover which reduces the tendency to bend the metal spiral.

Postalco 65 fig. 1

postalco 66 fig. 2

Postalco in Martha Stewart Magazine

Tracings Series

June 4, 2008


Originally uploaded by marisaolson.

Images from my Monitor Tracings series. After performing Google Image searches for headphones, telephones, radios, and similar objects, the images are traced directly off the computer monitor, onto office paper, using a mechanical pencil. The search results indexed highlight the objects we choose to recall, our means of organizing them, and the visual rhetoric of these products’ presentation.-Marisa Olson