Paper Airplanes

Last Sunday at one in the afternoon, a local Grand Rapids guy named Rob Bliss and a handful of friends started to dump paper airplanes off of downtown buildings. By the time they finished, one hundred thousand planes had descended on the nearly 20,000 people crowding the streets below. While the planes were raining down, loudspeakers blared a refrain from “Olsen Olsen,” a song by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. Some of the people in the crowd hummed along; others played the tune on instruments that they had brought for the event.

The plane launch was part of Grand Rapids ArtPrize, an “open art contest” offering nearly half a million dollars in prizes to the most popular entrants as determined by public vote. Sara, the kids, and I have been loving ArtPrize, discussing what we like and don’t like, what effect certain pieces have on us, and even how we should, or wish to, define art. The contest has provoked a lot of discussion among friends and neighbors, too. Some people seem almost offended by it, as if it demeans art in some way, while others are reveling in the “anything goes” nature of the competition.

There is a lot more I could say about both the paper-airplane stunt and ArtPrize in general, but I haven’t fully formulated my thoughts about them, so I’m going to hold off for now. Instead, I’ll leave you with a few pictures of downtown Grand Rapids last Sunday. Click on the thumbnails to get larger versions (without leaving the page).

Posted in friends and neighbors, photography | 3 Comments


I started writing this thing a month ago with some lame generalization about how kids behave radically differently from one minute to the next while they all pretty much look their age. But I couldn’t sustain the thought, and I’m not even sure I believe it, so I’m just going to relate a little anecdote about Ben and Sara that occurred earlier this summer.

Posted in family | 4 Comments

Happy Anniversary

Some people like to propose marriage in a public way — a banner pulled by an airplane, a radio call-in request, an electronic marquee at a ball game. When I asked Sara to marry me nineteen years ago, I chose a more private setting: the front steps of the dormitory where we had first met. The actual proposal was merely a formality anyway, since we had discussed getting married for the previous eight months or so.
My attitudes about self-revelation have changed quite a bit over the years, and the change, I admit, has coincided with the Internet Age and its ubiquity of online information about everything and everyone. But here is one thing I know I’d want to shout from the rooftop of my house if I didn’t have this virtual rooftop …

Posted in family | 10 Comments

A few baby names you might want to avoid

Our dear friends are expecting a baby, and they think it’s going to be a boy. When they were in town a couple weeks ago, we chatted a bit about possible names for the kid. And that made me wonder: What are some boy names that most parents should avoid? Here are a few that I came up with after almost no reflection on the matter …

Posted in friends and neighbors | 7 Comments

Music I Like: Josh Rouse

For the past couple years I’ve been meaning to write a roundup of music that I’ve been listening to and particularly enjoy, but as is painfully clear, I never got around to it. So, instead of coming up with a huge list, I thought I’d post little bite-size morsels.
The first musician in my series of “Music I Like” is Josh Rouse. I’ve never met a Josh Rouse album that I didn’t like…

Posted in music | 5 Comments

Crickets and Cobwebs

This little blog has been terribly quiet lately, some parts of it more than others…

Posted in technology | 2 Comments

Monday through Thursday

When I put myself on a diet two years ago this month, I had no idea I’d still be on it today. In fact, the only thing I cared about was making it to the weekend. It’s all I’ve cared about ever since. The place where I was working had bowls full of chocolates everywhere I turned. Each time I passed by them, I felt obliged to stuff my face with at least one. No willpower…

Posted in self-indulgence | 2 Comments


Ben told me yesterday that his new year’s resolution was “to hope that the economics improve.” It was a sweet statement, but I couldn’t help notice that it involved no work on his part–unless you count as work worrying about something over which you have no control.
My resolution is less noble, and it also requires no work …

Posted in miscellany | 7 Comments

Early Christmas

When I got home from work this evening, a package was waiting for me on my desk. I sat down, tore off one end of the padded envelope, and pulled out a book written in Korean. Of course I can’t read a word of Korean, but I was absolutely thrilled to receive it…

Posted in self-indulgence | 9 Comments

Election Day in New York City

In mid-October I received an email from a friend of mine, asking if I could fill in for him at the Future of Web Design conference in New York City. He was scheduled to lead a workshop on November 3 and give a presentation the next day, Election Day.
Of course, I jumped at the chance. And, of course, I panicked soon thereafter. The workshop (3 1/2 hours) and presentation (30 minutes) required a lot of preparation in a short amount of time. But somehow I managed …
…Here are a few pictures I took during my brief visit.

Posted in friends and neighbors, photography | 2 Comments