Back to the Mountain

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Irelands

I spied a Recovery emblem for the Cullinan Ranch Tidal Restoration along the way. #foreverproud

Erik has almost proper classic hand placement* on the steering wheel. Did you know it’s no longer 10 and 2? It’s apparently 9 and 3 because of airbags.

* That looks like 11 and 1 to me.

Hello old brown van from far away! I feel like you need to be on the road…

Ended up at the mountain! Since the rainy season is over we were able to drive all the way down to the cabin and yurt. That doesn’t sound amazing, but imagine not being able to drive up to your home for 5 months because of the rainy season and having to use an ATV to get to your front door. With groceries.

Good vibes

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Where did we leave off? Ah yes, California. I was navigating BART trains with an extra piece of luggage I picked up in the city. T’was easy-peasy on a Saturday.

I tried to imagine what it was like to be a commuter and read a book, but looking out the window through the shipping containers of Oakland’s shores and all the neighborhoods along the way to Richmond took precedent.

Erik was waiting for me at the station and we hit the road to see his parents and extended fam on the outskirts of Sacramento. There may have been a pit stop at In-N-Out along the way, but it was the homemade pizza, lasagna and good vibes of the evening that linger.

Listening: “The Unlimited” Sufjan Stevens, Lowell Brams


Dinner and drinks

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Bay Bridge

This afternoon I toured a company that makes breadbox sized satellites that take photos of earth, strolled through Salesforce Park, had dinner at the water’s edge with friends and capped it all off with a cocktail in a gloriously retro and futuristic hotel lobby.

The Tulip

The Tulip

Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Hyatt Regency San Francisco atrium

Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Listening: “Angels” by Dark Sky


Ellsworth Kelly Red Curves

Even if you have just a little window of time to spare? Make time for art. Well, unless you don’t really like art, then do something else.

Me, I popped in to SFMOMA and walked through a good chunk at a determined and brisk pace, visibly sweaty. I still had time to ooo and ahhh, but I could’ve easily spent all day there. It was enough to whet the whistle—to lean in and see the brushstrokes and realize that these pieces were possible, real and lasting.

See oodles more images on Exposure.

artwork from SFMOMA


Thursday, February 6, 2020

San Francisco sunset

After the conference I went back to the hotel and melted into a chair. I thought the importance of balance, between work and life, between technology and analog, and the value of comfortable shoes.


Config was the first user conference for Figma—a collaborative design tool that’s built to work inside a web browser. Imagine if Adobe Illustrator or XD was mashed up with Google Docs and had intelligent, sharable components.

I go to conferences, oh… about once every five years. Before this it was SXSW in 2010 and XOXO in 2015.

(I also went to a mommy blogger conference in Salt Lake City in 2011, but that was to hang with Wendy so it doesn’t count.)

I wanted to come to this event for several reasons:

  1. Craig Mod was speaking. I’ve been following his path for many years and he’s on to something. He’s all about the journey and he documents it in lovely, meaningful ways.
  2. Figma is an amazing application. I don’t use it in my professional workflow, yet… but I most definitely will. I’ve been using it to create side projects and it is a delightful new take on design that favors systems, components and collaboration. I’m a fan and want to get proficient.
  3. California. It’s been too long since my last visit. I immediately regretted not making the trip extra long.

The conference itself was dandy. Craig’s talk (which you can see in it’s entirety here) reinforced many of the ideas that have been swirling around my head about how to find harmony between the digital and analog worlds.

There were also talks about the application’s future, a presentation by Devon Zuegel showing the correlation between cities and open source software and a conversation with Tycho and his journey from designer to musician. The afternoon had breakout sessions that brought community members together with conversations.

I had some hopes to learn some practical aspects of the program, but what I got was far better: an introduction to a burgeoning and active community and an understanding that design systems are incredible beasts. Besides, learning the program is easy online. The Figma Youtube alone channel has TONS of tutorials.

The event wasn’t all sunshine. It felt beyond capacity—a good problem to have. Just took a deep breath to contend and it never went off kilter, the vibe kept the ship steady.

My excitement for this software is just beginning. What I love most is that it makes me think about design at a meta-level and begin to consider code more deeply. Too long I’ve made design decisions based on a single instance, which is fine for some things, but not for others. The additional bonus I’m foreseeing is the ability to work better with teams of developers and designers.

It’s nice to be excited.

For a WAY more thoughtful take on Figma’s approach to multiplayer software, I highly recommend Raph D’Amico’s Thigmotaxis on the infinite canvas.

Config 2020 Figma Conference

Config 2020 Figma Conference

Craig Mod at Config 2020

Config 2020 Figma Conference

Config 2020 Figma Conference

Above? The Config Quilt. Before the event everyone was invited to submit a tile to the quilt using a template with defined colors and the challenge to represent what community means to you.

Out the window

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

view from plane of fields and river

I wonder if flight attendants have better behaving passengers these days. With all the seat back entertainment, wifi and mobile devices that can be used anytime, just seems like folks might be more placated (kids included).

All well and good I suppose, but it’s a bit sad to see all the shades down when there is such beauty out the window. I wonder when we’ll have bigger plane windows.

mountains and clouds from above from airplane

view from plane of California foothills

view from plane of California foothills and suburbs

San Mateo Bridge from above

Quote on seatback screen with Rainer Maria Rilke quote

Quote at the end of Jojo Rabbit. (Worth the watch)

View of San Francisco skyline from Virgin Hotel rooftop bar

Closed out the evening meeting members of the Gay Scouts over a cocktail at the Virgin Hotel rooftop bar. Lovely light reflected from the sunset.

She knows

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Cat in distance

Edie is keenly aware when travel is nigh. She sticks a bit closer and eyes me with more than the usual suspicion. She even tries to prevent packing.