Aug 12

Ramadan, church, and seders oh my. What religion means to me

My closest friends and family would certainly attest that when it comes to religion, I am definitely outspoken—sometimes perhaps beligerant. And although I may agree that I often vent my frustrations and annoyances I have with belief systems. I feel as if I have been misrepresented as to my beliefs. So this post is about what I do like about religion and about my personal beliefs.

First and foremost, I don’t hate religon. In fact quite the opposite. I find a lot a beauty in the rituals, beliefs, and traditions. I think its power to change people is profound. I haven’t traveled a whole lot around the globe, but I have been to the Vatican and seen the beauty of the catholic faith in person expressed through grand gesture, ritual, and breath-taking art. I have been to Bangkok and seen how Buddism fills the lives of everyone from the business executive to the taxi driver. I have entered the Hindu temples of Bali and seen hundreds of offerings everyday sitting on street corners, front doors, and beaches. I have woken to the beautiful prayer calls in Jakarta and watched as swarms of people make their way to the mosque. I have celebrated holidays with Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike–bonding over food and conversation. I’ve cried at funerals, applauded at weddings, and witnessed baptisms a plenty. All of these things remind me that religion is about the people who live with faith in their heart. Faith that life will endure. Laughter will always make you feel better, and love and compassion will conquer. It is this belief in people that led to me to my personal spirituality. Personal is the key word there as it is my belief and I don’t expect anyone else to adopt it.

So what do I believe? In life period. Call it agnostic, spirituality, or atheist. But to me, living a religious life is about the experience of living, the beauty of presence, the importance of reflection, and the solace of expectation. These things are what makes life rich to me. I love the message of love my mom’s pastor preaches every Sunday. I embrace the beauty and challenge of fasting for Ramadan every year with my wife. I look forward to participating in a Passover seder with friends every spring. I whole heatedly believe in the magnitude of sharing experiences regardless of my or anyone else’s walk of life. After all, I grew up Christian, became atheist in college, became close friends with a Mormon and two Jews, and I married a Muslim. I have personally peeked into many lives and seen the ups and downs religion has caused to those close to me. It’s with that experience that I draw these conclusions. I am still young, and I am open for it to change as long as it is an inclusive change. Regardless of that change though, I will still seek out experiences and human interaction throughout my life.

Oct 11

My Morning Workflow Part 1: Chai and Spotify…

I thought I’d share some of my morning routines in case anyone’s looking for something to add to theirs.

Each morning, as my wife is finishing getting herself and our daughter ready for work and school, I make a pot of chai which my wife actually taught me how to several years ago when we were just dating. The principle is really basic. I fill a small pot with water, throw 4 black tea bags in, a palm full of cardamom pods, half a palm of cloves, about a tablespoon of ground ginger, two cinnamon sticks and a small piece of star anise. I bring it to a boil and let it simmer until it’s reduced by 2/3. Then I pour soy milk in until it’s a medium beige color. I add about 4 tablespoons of sugar, stir and pour. The pouring I do over the sink because I tend to spill it.

Next is to find some cool tunes. I usually gravitate to something chill especially if it’s a rainy morning. My favorite artists tend to be instrumental DJ music like DJ Shadow or Sabzi from the Blue Scholars. I also love listening to indie artists like Ryan Adams or Bon Iver. Now in the past I’ve almost exclusively used iTunes with the occasional dip into Pandora or Grooveshark. Nowadays though, I use Spotify almost all the time. It’s great because I can find artists that I don’t currently own as well as see what my friends are listening to. I usually have it running on my work MacBook which I then stream across the house to my stereo system via AirFoil and my personal MacBook. This way I can control the music as I’m working. Also I love using Butler to control my music. If I’m using iTunes, Butler has built in keyboard shortcuts for pausing and skipping. For Spotify, I setup some simple actionscripts to help with those tasks. Everything is running through Growl so I get to see what’s playing as it goes.

Occasionally I like listening to KEXP in the mornings—John Richards puts on a hell of a show. If I’m doing that I just have my stereo tuned to 90.3 FM here in Seattle, and I use a Dashboard Web clip to grab the KEXP playlist. This way I also see what’s playing. If I want the ability to pause the music as I’m listening to KEXP, then I just listen to the station through the iTunes radio player.

With some good tunes playing, and a warm cup of Chai, I then crack open my email programs to get the day started. That however is another post. Until next time…

Jan 11

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Aug 10

One day I’ll…

There are too many things to do on my to-do list!! One day becomes two, then three, then a year. I don’t mean to push things off, it just happens sometimes. Anyone else have this problem? Any remedies to this self-inflicted challenge?

Apr 10

For all you Atari fans out there…

I just came across this fantastic commercial put together by the folks at One More Production out of Paris. It’s a fantastic combination of old school video game nostalgia, amazing 3-d graphics, and beautiful cinematography. Enjoy!!

Pixels by One More Production

Apr 10

Food Revolution—Great Concept, Aggressive Approach

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Petition

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Petition

Tonight I watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and I have to say, I was taken for a little bit of a loop. The premise of the show is Jamie Oliver leaves his England home to come to Huntington, West Virginia to “save” it from its 2008 diagnosis as the world’s most unhealthy city according to MSNBC. The show follows him as he fights his way into the hearts and stomachs of the sometimes resistant residents.

Overall the show is pretty good. The production value is everything we’ve come to expect in this reality-show culture, and the message is quite possibly one of the most important topics facing American families today. The problem I have with the show is the often preachy, sometimes  condescending approach Jamie takes with the residents of Huntington. I can’t help but compare it to what I call the “Dances with Wolves” syndrome where the purpose driven, privileged outsider feels the necessity to join the natives in order to save them from their inevitable destruction. It’s the same rhetoric echoed time and time again spanning every form from missionaries to politics to relationship counseling. “I have the answer. You don’t. Let me help you.” It’s a bit righteous. (Although I realize I also sound righteous just by making this statement. Unfortunately I think it’s unavoidable.)

What’s the answer then? After all without this approach, we would have to discredit most international and local development initiatives as well as most social and civil changes that’s ever benefited anyone. The fact is people have to be informed in order to make a better decision. The question is how to inform them without coming across as authoritative.

My wife, whom I owe a great deal for relentlessly trying to get me to see more diplomatically, refers to her experience in the Peace Corps. She says to get the village on the path towards change, you have to speak with the chief and convince him. Once you have his vote, then the village will follow. She then takes this further and explains the chief as being more metaphoric. We all have an internal chief, guiding us towards rewards and turning our heads away from danger (well most of the time). When someone comes at us aggressively demanding that our ways our wrong, our internal chief automatically tells us to put our guard up. Aggression triggers a sense of danger, and danger makes us defensive. But if that same person comes to us asking to join us and learn our ways without asking for anything in return, at least at first, then our chief welcomes them in. This establishes a seedling of trust. That seedling then can grow into a full blossom. Only then can that person start to make suggestions and truly invoke change.

Now I don’t mean to harp on what Jamie Oliver’s trying to do. In fact I whole heartedly believe in it. In fact I signed his Food Revolution petition. Obesity is a dangerous and growing trend. Diabetes is sneaking into more and more families’ lives at alarming rates. Schools, fast food, and grocery stores are all marketing food that is unnatural and nutritiously lacking. Something needs to change. I love that between writers like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser and well known chefs like Jamie Oliver and Alton Brown, the message of sustainable and healthy eating is being told louder and louder each day. The message needs to be said. It needs to be taught. It needs to be accepted and enforced. The message can and will change lives, but the change has to come from an open heart, and not a defensive one. Alright, I’m done telling you how it is now.

Mar 10

Advice for Design Students Part 1: Passion

The Highway by Clint Bush

© 2008 Clint Bush

I found my self giving advice a couple times recently to students either recently graduated or still attending design school, and I have to say I don’t really know the point when I went from insecure frosh to someone giving out advice. Truthfully I don’t know if I’m 100% confident about what I do now. Actually I don’t know if I ever will be. Maybe that’s what drives me to keep getting better and perfecting my craft.

It brings up an interesting question on what is a professional? Let’s face it, we all step out of school clueless. Academia has prepared us to take tests, recite useless information, and get high praise for something gone right or gentle criticism for something gone wrong. None of this, or at least very little of it actually exists in the real work environment.

In the real world, a professional designer is faced with hovering clients, ever changing scopes of work, and deadlines that make you want to run for southern Mexico, tequila in hand. Somehow though, as a professional you wade those murky waters, holding your sanity as high above the water as you can. Day after day, week after week, month after month. But do we run for the border? Do we pull our hair out and turn to a life of crime. Well some might, but the majority of us don’t. We even go so far to say we like it. Hell we LOVE IT!

What is it then? I’ll tell you what I think (as if I hadn’t been doing that already). It’s because we DO LOVE IT. It’s our passion, our life’s work. Maybe it’s been said before, but I like to say “I don’t want my work to be my life, but I want my life to be part of my work.” Design is a part of me. I find myself always scouring my surroundings looking at other design. I drive my wife crazy sometimes because I’ll look really close to menu boards and signage in restaurants or stores just to see how well it was put together. I’m constantly taking pictures of signage and other things I find interesting. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a KFC sign, or the Sistine Chapel.

My point is that for you folks that are just entering the field or about to enter the field, prepare yourself as much as possible. Spend time looking at everything you can. Examine design. Make it part of your life. Read, look, learn, and repeat. Passion transcends fads, technology, recessions. Passion drives us when nothing else can. Passion can make you successful, but you have to feed it. You have to give it what it wants. Otherwise it will wither and subside. So FEED YOUR PASSION, and your passion will feed you.

Mar 10

Tempeh, Sriracha, on a Bun, OH MY…

Tomatoes by Clint Bush

© 2010 Clint Bush

I just discovered my new favorite sandwich. Inspired by Jeffrey Saad’s (of The Next Food Network Star) recipe for Harissa Steak Sandwich, I decided to make a vegetarian version. The only differences were I substituted tempeh for steak, Sriracha for Harissa, and sandwich thins for rolls. The rest of the sandwich consisted of a spicy mint, garlic, and sun-dried tomato infused mayo, salad greens w/arugula, and sliced tomato. The mayo was amazing especially in conjunction with the spicy nutty flavor of the tempeh which I rubbed with a little Sriracha and toasted to bring out the nuttiness even more.

The outcome was outstanding. The best part is that it cost me less than $3 for the ingredients (broken down by serving) and took me about 20min to put together.

Mar 10

National Day of Unplugging…

Lamp by Clint Bush

© 2008 Clint Bush

So this weekend is the first National Day of Unplugging. A novel idea, but one that I would like to try once a month. There are days I find myself plugged in for 12 hours or more between the computer, the ipod, and the TV. If you throw in the cell phone, then we’re talking all but the hours that I sleep.

It’s not that I’m against technology in any way. Hell I’m a web designer for Pete’s sake. It’s just that I don’t want to be connected all the time. I love the outdoors. I love quiet moments. I love hearing the birds outside. I love playing board games.

Anyways the idea was created by a New York Jewish group called the Rebooters. The overall guidelines are:

1. Avoid technology.
2. Connect with loved ones.
3. Nurture your health.
4. Get outside.
5. Avoid commerce.
6. Light candles.
7. Drink wine.
8. Eat bread.
9. Find silence.
10. Give back.

From CNN.com

Mar 10

Reflecting on looking ahead

Butterfly photo by Clint Bush

©2008 Clint Bush

I sometimes have an issue with the “there and then” philosophy over the “here and now”. I do agree having a plan to work towards not only gives us goals, but hope for something rewarding in the end. However, I strongly believe it’s not just the reward at the end, but rather the journey that teaches us. Buddhists believe you must be in the present to be truly spiritual. If we’re always focused on the end result, we miss the details in life, and remember details are not always bad. The way a butterfly gets carried in a breeze. The way the grass smells after it’s been cut. The way rain sounds on a window. The intricate patterns of a snowflake. The precious giggle of your partner or child. These moments are just as precious as the reward in the end. Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the end result, and we want to skip ahead. Then, like reading the end of book first, you miss the context that makes the award truly rewarding.