I’m excited that my synagogue’s new website is now up. It’s now on its third or fourth life, but I did the second redesign for Congregation Beth Elohim website. I’m actually surprised at the end result as I haven’t seen it in a while. Another congregant did all the backend work in PHP and brilliantly created a system for staff to update the site using Excel spreadsheets (yes, spreadsheets!). In fact, I’d even venture to say that it’s more functional from both a user and administrator perspective than almost any other congregational site out there…and I’ve looked at a lot of ’em. I’m not sure why religious organizations and institutions don’t have good presences but maybe it’s because they have better things to do.
P.S. The site looks best on OS X Safari or Netscape, which render and format the type (more) correctly.


It’s noteworthy that Adobe today announced the launch of its Creative Suite, which somehow combines it’s powerhouse Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, GoLive, and Acrobat together to make for a serious contender with Macromedia’s new integrated suite Studio MX 2004. Enough will be written about this to fill a small book, but what is interesting to me is that all of these applications are finally being integrated, following Microsoft’s lead with Office (and Sun’s StarOffice).
The pundits in 1995 said there would be day when all software would be blended and that an end user could just do whatever and come up with whatever+. The pundits in 2000 said that all of these apps would be served online and we wouldn’t have to fork over a hefty $549 here and $399 there to upgrade (which I suppose I’ll have to do with Adobe and Macromedia, respectively, soon) but pay a monthly online fee and be done with it. Perhaps these new near-integrated design applications are just two steps away from that server-based model?


I received John Cash’s American Recordings in the mail today and it’s quite magical. While the whole of it is relatively dark, I sense within this album much more irony and and even forlorn self-tribute than his previous or later albums, such as Solitary Man and The Man Comes Around. It’s as if Cash found that his true name is “Cash,” the man who built up an empire of song by looking at the poverty of self.
I suspect that Cash, in creating this album, however, is pointing to a larger issue around Americana (thus the title), in that American culture pushes hard on those who are used to being pushed. And I also imagine that he was less than happy with this album, as his next two albums are tribute covers to others who may not have lived the life of Cash but understood its majesty. In other words, those later albums were easier to master aesthetically and are easier to listen to because they’re essentially not about Cash.


I’m very fond of those named Anna. My father’s mother’s name was Hanna (a variation), my daughter’s caretaker’s name currently is Anna, and I just found a very nice fine art portfolio by Anna Blakney Sutton, illustrator for The Morning News, one of my very favorite online pubs. Ms. Sutton is a talented draftsperson and her site is a fitting container for her very fine paintings.

Investing in good design

I found this to be good, illuminating, and (helpfully) brief article on the business value of web standards by Jeffrey Veen of Adaptive Path, a firm that measures and consults on user experiences. While I’m not completely up to speed on standards yet, I’m getting there, and I think all web folks will be sooner rather than later with the release of the new, supercool Dreamweaver MX 2004 which should arrive here any day. That is, after I purchase it.

The Sunflower

I’m reading yet another book on war and holocaust. This one was recommended to me at shul a few weeks ago — The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. It’s a short story by Simon Wiesenthal about an SS officer who asks the writer forgiveness for his self-confessed crimes. I’m impressed by the clarity and sincerity of the writing, the ambivalence of its tone, and the way that Wiesenthal interweaves history, personal experience, and mystery in a narrative of dire events.
I’m mostly looking forward to the commentary that is published at the end of the book by the Dalai Lama, Primo Levi, and others.
Today is the first day of Fall in the year 2003.

Barneys New York

After over one year of work, I’m thrilled to say that the new BARNEYS NEW YORK website is up and has been officially announced via email.
I provided creative direction, design, and design implementation for this website, as a contractor to a small web development firm. The project went very well and I’m honored to have been a member of the amazing four-person creative team that developed it.

Sticker Shock

I noticed on a walk today a bumper sticker (on a car). This, in and of itself, is quite unusual as the bumper sticker has gone the way of fingerless gloves on young ladies. It seems that today the only folks that wear bumper stickers on their cars are ideologues who don’t mind getting stares and odd fingers pointing at them. Face it: it takes courage to have a bumper sticker. There’s nothing uglier, though, than a 1994 VW Jetta GLS sedan with rainbow stickers and an “I Love Clinton” bumper sticker. A few observations:
1. The “clean” aesthetic that we are all so fond of has essentially obliterated the possibility of the bumper sticker truly coming back. Cars these days just don’t have flat, black vinyl bumpers that look as if they need a decal of some sort or another.
2. On the other hand, I think a candidate for the upcoming elections should pioneer the peelable bumper sticker, which would temporarily be affixed to the car. This way, at the end of the election, you could say bye-bye to that red, white, and blue stripe and move on to other issues. In this way, too, bumper stickers might become slightly stylish again.
3. The bumper sticker I saw today read “God Bless America!!” I mistook the “!!” for “II,” thus thinking that we are now in America II, which maybe we now are what with no bumper stickers around and 9/11 being the new beginning of everything.