21 things I'm thinking about

1. Open-plan offices
They’re not for everyone. If it isn’t everyone loudly speaking at once, it’s everyone loudly eating at once. I used to like it, but I’m realising that I quite like the solitude of my little studio. Plus let’s face it: open-plan working isn’t popular because it makes people more productive, it’s just cheaper.

2. Ultimate Big Brother
Yes, I know, some of you will be wretching at the mere thought of watching that show, but I like it. There’s one thing that stands out this time around: an unexpected dose of reality. Compared to all the superficial in-house relationships that have occurred, seeing how the really-married and really-divorced Preston and Chantelle act around each other is surprisingly touching. Big Brother became too childish for it’s own good years ago, but seeing adults dealing with an adult relationship – all that awkward familiarity, regret, affection, pain – in that environment is quite moving. (Oh, and ‘Nasty’ Nick: bloody nice bloke. The nastiest thing he’s ever done is shrewdly test the boundaries of a new television format. Ten years ago. Get over it.)

3. Games
Following the eventual death of my grunting, wheezing, temperamental X-Box, I’ve been without a games machine for a couple of months now. Somehow I’ve coped. But it’s starting to get cold outside, so the question remains: to replace or not to replace?

4. Super-specific blogs (particularly on tumblr)
How long this can trend be sustained? Is it of any lasting value? Is it just a 2010 thing, or will this evolve into an important method for categorising and collating our culture? Recent favourites include Simple Desks, Architectural Models, Hello Typewriter, and Pete Campbell’s Bitchface. Plus Concrete Proof, of course.

5. Chairs
So many chairs. My brain hurts from all the chairs. Why are there so many chairs? Thanks to those of you who’ve come up with recommendations of what to get and where to get them from. Oh, and there’s one I definitely won’t be getting: Dieter Rams’ 620. Despite being designed by The Man and manufactured by Vitsoe, there’s no avoiding the simple fact that it’s as ugly as sin.

6. The Joneses
River Phoenix would’ve been 40 this week – older than Harrison Ford was when he filmed Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sean Connery was 80. There is some kind of mystical significance to all of this, but I have no idea what it is.

7.Scott Pilgrim vs Most of the audience
Although it’s being hailed by some as the future of cinema, at it’s heart, Scott Pilgrim is really a paean to the nineties. It harks back to the visual language of Batman (a nineties TV staple), Street Fighter II, Steven Segal movies and a magical time when teenagers would shop for music in actual music stores. It’s seems so specifically aimed at nineties kids that I imagine it’ll alienate vast chunks of the audience who are either too old or too young to enjoy the nostalgia.

8. Maps
I’m always thinking about maps on some level, but this week it’s specifically about how much I need Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands, and also whether or not I can convince my dad to give me his 1960’s New Zealand flight plan maps. Trust me on this one: they are quite, quite beautiful.

9. Pretentious menus
A tournedo of beef? A supreme of chicken? An assiette of desserts? I think I’d prefer a scotchment of egg accompanied by a hammock of splintered potato, to be followed by a frosted dairy reduction of vanilla. And some cordial d’orange on the side, thank you very much.

10. PhDs
Whilst observing an interaction between Dr B and a receptionist the other day, I realised that having a PhD is a lot more fun if you’re of the female persuasion. “Is it Miss or Mrs?” “It’s Dr”. Men never get asked … it’s just assumed that you’re “Mr” … so you never get the opportunity to announce your brainy accomplishment. Not that I have one.

11. QR codes
My nomination for useless invention that doesn’t actually make anyone’s life easier, and makes the world a little bit uglier. Most of the time they’re just slapped onto a poster with no explanation of what they lead to. And the fiddly process of scanning them is just irritating. If your webpage isn’t interesting enough to have a memorable URL, then maybe it’s not that urgent I look at it.

12. Quotes on covers
As much as I love David Pearson’s series of Cormac McCarthy covers, I really dislike the quotes from semi-anonymous critics prominently splashed across them. They just seems to ground them too much in the present. A timeless classic shouldn’t be adorned with tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper.

13. A bit of the old ultra-violence
Judge Dredd, Grand Theft Auto, Kick-Ass: how come so many of the great ultraviolent satirical depictions of the USA originate in Scotland?

14. Gendered design
I’ve been told on more than one occasion that my design style is very ‘masculine’. I’m still not entirely sure I know what this means. Attributing gender signifiers to inanimate objects happens all the time, but what is it specifically about my work that screams manliness?

15. Over-egging
The latest attempt to save physical media: quantity, and lots of it. Number of tracks on Dame David Bowie’s Station to Station: 6. Number of Tracks on the new Station to Station deluxe edition: 75. Seventy-five. Seriously.

16. Flickr
Whilst trying to view some lovely Gym Class Magazine spreads the other day, it occurred to me just how rapidly Flickr is turning into web dinosaur. The interface/navigation is clunky, mobile version is unbearable. All seems very three years ago.

17. The Pied Piper
This blog currently has 1695 followers. That’s rather nice. thanks for following, one and all.

18. Evil branding
I saw the Royal Caribbean Cruises advert on telly the other day, and it suddenly struck me that the whole thing is actually a front for the mobilisation of the world’s largest Decepticon. Check out the logo. Eeeevil.

19. Spine continuity syndrome
You know that disease where you’ve got a couple of books by the same publisher and you put them next to each other and they look a bit good and then you need some more just to continue the pattern and then you wonder why you can’t afford to buy cheese any more and and then before you know it this happens? I think I may have that.

20. Default iPhone apps
Stocks but not Twitter? And isn’t it about time they added some actual features to the maps app? And you’d have thought that one senior, influential British member of staff at Apple would have pointed out that “centre” is spelt “centre”, not “center”.

21. Trout
Griddling up a smoked trout can make your flat smell for daaaays.