Saturday, March 31, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 14 (Cuba, MO to Vinita, OK)

Quiet solitude at Hooker Cut (a stretch of highway that once thrummed with bumper-to-bumper traffic), succulent BBQ at Sweetwaters, Route 66 simulacra at a Missouri interstate rest stop, searching for ruins west of Springfield, four hours of conversation with Gary Turner at Gay Parita...

... Gassing up at the "Crap Duster," the smell of wet grass in the cool of the evening, and nighttime photography on a stretch of road only nine feet wide: an exhaustingly terrific day on the Mother Road. I've bunked down for the night in Vinita. Tomorrow's destination: Tucumcari, New Mexico's Blue Swallow Motel.

Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 13 (Chicago, IL to Cuba, MO)

Epically awesome day (even though it began with storming rain in Chicago). I visited Henry's Rabbit Ranch, where I befriended a ridiculously mellow hare. I found literally miles of street art along the railroad tracks south of the St. Louis Arch. Then I took the slow road down south through Missouri before checking into my motel.

For the hell of it, I drove an extra hour south to shoot the gorgeously refurbished sign at the Munger Moss - where I chatted for about an hour with another photographer who's on her way north. Another hour of driving later and now I'm rocking in a metal chair on the lawn of the Wagon Wheel Motel, watching that red neon wheel blink on and off.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 12 (St. Louis, MO to Chicago, IL)

Drove from St. Louis to Chicago. The day's highlights included a quick stop in Bloomington, IL for pizza at Lucca's Grill and some street art [Check out the pix!]. In a Chicago suburb, I visited the classic Hala Kahiki for a dose of tiki pleasure. Afterward, amid all that drizzle and traffic, I learned to hate Chicago's tricky toll booths before grabbing relatively cheap lodging in the Loop's Essex Hotel. Night was a blur of dark alleys and glowing neon.

Shepard Fairey's "Mujer Fatal" mural located near
Code of Conduct tattoo and clothing shop (South Loop Chicago)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 11 (Nashville, NT to St. Louis, MO)

Stopped in Evansville, Indiana to photograph one of the two remaining "blue period" Greyhound terminals, got an unscheduled oil change to celebrate driving 4,000 miles. Sitting in a Wal-Mart: It's so disorienting, being on the road - but not being on the road. About ten minutes of panic as I briefly lost my mobile phone. I am really on a rhythm these days. Can't wait to return to "normal." Evening: Shot some swell St. Louis neon. Tomorrow: Chicago!

102 NW 3rd St. Evansville, IN [GMap]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 10 (Jefferson, TN to Nashville, NT)

The Nashville "Parthenon"
I got caught behind two lengthy trains to get this shot
Nashville street art
More Nashville street art
Mellow day: Hugs to Chip and Jana Hall. Relaxing drive to Nashville and time to do some much-needed laundry. I hate that chore - except when I've been on the road too long. At least I'm forced to sit still for a while, to breathe, to think about where I've been and where I'm going. Oh, and now my clothes will stop stinking (for a while). Evening dedicated to a street art search and some neon videography.

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 9 (Atlanta, GA to Jefferson, TN)

Chattanooga Street Art

Knoxville Ghost Sign
Relaxing drive (after sharing fond farewells with Sue VerHoef), street art exploration in Chattanooga and Knoxville, and an awesome night with Chip and Jana Hall. We shared a terrific meal, toured parts of Carson-Newman university, and spent hours chatting (and sharing our favorite YouTube videos). Tomorrow: Nashville!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 8 (Munford, AL to Atlanta, GA)

Sleeping in, relaxing chat, mellow drive, delightful visit, tasty BBQ, welcome sleep. A great day driving from Munford to Atlanta to see Sue. Few things are as nice as the chance to spend hours chatting with a good friend. Looking forward to tomorrow too!

Chip Hall, Imacoming!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 7 (Tupelo, MS to Munford, AL)

Seeing my father for the first time in 32 years
(photo by the incomparable Geni Certain)
Visiting family in northern Alabama. Conversation, contemplation, and evening rain. Heading to Atlanta tomorrow, seeing Sue VerHoef!

Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 6 (Austin, TX to Tupelo, MS)

About 800 miles of driving today - Highlight: Shooting the Joe's Liquors rotosphere. Now it's time to catch up on a little sleep and get ready for tomorrow's visit with Larry Wood, Geni Certain, and Johanna Elemenopee. Looking forward!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 5 (San Antonio, TX to Austin, TX)

Searching for street art in Austin, Texas
That's me, beating on a piece of office equipment after seeing Office Space
Slept in at the Cothams', savored two juicy, tender BBQ meals in Lockhart (Smitty's and Blacks), and spent a fabulous day in Austin... Street art, neon photography, an Office Space quote-a-long, lodging at the 1938 Austin Motel: Wow, I love this trip! Only downside: I'm looking at an 11+ hour drive tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 4 (Fort Stockton, TX to San Antonio, TX)

Hard to believe, but today was even nicer than yesterday: Mellow drive through Texas hill country bursting with blue bonnets, lunch at Cooper's, and - best of all - an evening with dear friends, Jay and Andrea Cotham. Couching it tonight with a houseful of friendly cats (and one sweet dog). Tomorrow: Heading to Austin.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 3 (Phoenix to Fort Stockton, TX)

Fun (loo-oo-ng) driving day to Fort Stockton (with one lengthy detour through Marfa). Surreal, sublime stuff...

Tomorrow: Lunch at Coopers Old Time BBQ in Llano - followed by a visit with J. and Andrea in San Antonio!

Monday, March 19, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 2 (Rialto, CA to Phoenix, AZ)

Morning at the Wigwam Motel
Lovely day with Jeff Sockwell and his family (Lisa and Royce) - chatting, catching up, and celebrating Jeff's birthday. Tomorrow: Heading for Texas!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012 Solo Road Trip: Day 1 (S.V. to Rialto)

Enjoyed a wonderful day photographing downtown street art in L.A. [see more pix here] and sampling one of Damon's famous mai-tais. Tonight I'm staying at the Wigwam Village in Rialto.

Tomorrow: Phoenix to see Jeff Sockwell!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2012 Cross-Country Road Trip Itinerary

Woodland Shoppers Paradise will be on hiatus for awhile as I embark upon my 2012 "Greatest Hits" Cross-Country Road Trip.

Staring this Sunday I'm hitting the pavement for about three weeks, seeing friends and family, shooting footage for a project about animated neon signs, and enjoying a little bit of roadside Americana.

Of course my itinerary is merely a draft; I'll alter my plans as new opportunities arise. But this is a pretty good idea of how I'll be living life for the next few weeks. Check it out!

[If you experience any hassles with the map below this text, I recommend that you click over to the larger format version.]

View Andy's 2012 Solo Trip in a larger map

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shameless Media Plug: San Jose Mercury News

I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in an interview with Sue McAllister a few weeks back about the tendency for folks to adopt differing communication strategies for "text-friends" and "talk-friends." Some of our conversation found its way into a San Jose Mercury News article that appeared this week. Here are a couple relevant quotes:
"We've been developing these devices that allow us this ubiquitous communication, and on the one hand it is remarkable and exciting. But we haven't quite caught up with the problems this revolution has unleashed," said Andrew Wood, a professor of communication studies at San Jose State.

San Jose State's Wood says much of personal communication comes down to being courteous to the people you're interacting with and gauging which method will be the right choice for the situation. For example, "In certain contexts I'm an email person," he says. "When I'm answering a question, I like email because I have the time to reflect on an answer."

But when it comes to real discussion, he says, his favorite medium is a time-honored one that many people still crave in our digital society.

"It's one-on-one conversation, in a diner," he says, "just two people talking. That's when I'm at my best."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Love and Theft Online

"What’s yours may not be yours anymore if others find a better way to package it."

David Carr offers this warning in his NYT article about efforts to fashion a system for ethical citation, aggregation, and "curation" of web content.

His article explores two potential solutions: one, a semi-top-down "seal of approval" approach; the other, a "curator's code" adopted from the bottom up.

Examining these options, Carr poses the interesting question: "Where is the line between promoting the good work of others and simply lifting it? Naughty aggregation is analogous to pornography: You know it when you see it."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lincoln Center MediaScape

[I know this is old. It comes from my overflowing collection of articles I've read and wanted to post during my recent blogging hiatus. Better late than never!]

Robin Pogrebin wrote an interesting NYT article about an architectural firm's efforts to blur architecture and information at New York's Lincoln Center. One example: 4-by-8-foot L.E.D. screens (called "blades") that "combine text and video images … to enliven the street and convey the vitality and accessibility of the center." The piece cites architect Elizabeth Diller who seeks to transform Lincoln Center into more than merely something "carved in stone":
“The monumentality of the scale of the buildings really needed to be softened up by a different, pedestrian scale,” she added. “The media is really part of the architectural expression of that.”
Learn more: At Lincoln Center, Information Is Architecture

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Oakland Street Art

Following up on recent surveys of East and West Oakland, I returned to Oakland yesterday in search of more street art throughout the city. Here's what I found...

"Casa Segura" by Laurel True and True Mosaics Studio
5321 Foothill Blvd [GMap]
Mac Dre Mural - 4524 Foothill Blvd [GMap
1770 46th Ave [GMap]
"Giraphics" by Dan Fontes
MacArthur Blvd and Harrison St [GMap]
Youth UpRising "Weapons of Mass Distraction" - 5007 E 12th St [GMap]
Truck parked along E 12 St 
United For Success Academy - 2128 35th Ave [GMap]
(Photographs by Andrew Wood)

See more: This map is my growing collection of Oakland photo-sites (blue: visited; red: not yet visited).

View Oakland Street Art in a larger map

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Salzburg 2012 Map

View Salzburg, Austria in a larger map
Here's my initial draft of the Salzburg 2012 Touring map, a collaborative tool designed to help participants get the most out of their visit to this amazing place. To access the full functionality of this map, select the full-screen view.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Las Vegas Growth Video

Check out NASA's amazing time-lapse video illustrating the growth of Las Vegas over nearly 40 years.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Animated Neon Sign: Boulder Creek, CA

Getting ready to start gathering high-def footage of animated neon this spring...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wood's Unsought Advice 5 of 5: Write Your Own Story

Terry Pratchett once wrote, "Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom." Inspired by that aphorism (and hoping one day to be wise) I'm sharing some draft comments for a project I might develop in a few years: tips for my students who face a complex and changing workplace. 

Who's writing your life story? 

You are the author of your personal story. You wake up, put on your clothes, and plan your workday, writing your story with each word and action. That's the idea, right? But unless you're careful, your story may end up competing with other tales about you, stories you can hardly hope to edit. 

Thus while you imagine yourself as a tireless advocate for important causes, you may be dogged by another script, something like, "There goes Gripey McFighterson, always complaining about something!" Before long, you may be unable to write your story at all. What's worse, you might start living up (or down) to the persona other folks have built for you.

If you don't like that idea, you need to think carefully about how you can exercise more influence over your life story. The first step: consider how that story fits into a larger narrative. 

Think about the typical workplace. Just about any organization hopes to tell a story, branding itself according to some vision ("We produce increasingly efficient widgets at ever more competitive prices for an ever more satisfied clientele"). How does your story contribute to that broader vision? It should, you know. You may not personally care about widgets, but someone at your workplace does. And if that person has the power to produce widgets, she or he can help you tell your own story too. 

A story is a narrative composed of deeds. Sure, the narrative may contain words. But deeds accomplished over time make a story real. In your story you are the main character; you are the do-er of deeds that matter. Those deeds evoke a past (training, exploits, accomplishments, and lessons). Those deeds produce a present (your skills, your interests, your roles, and your personality). And those deeds presume a future (your innermost goals, your organizational trajectory, your potential to grow in fascinating and useful ways). Put past, present, and future together and you've got a narrative.

An internally consistent, externally true, and practically meaningful narrative makes organizational sense -- it's not just a dramatic concept --  especially when your narrative helps other people tell stories of their own. The problem is, not everyone knows your narrative. Actually many of your colleagues couldn't care less about your narrative; that's a fact of life. Still, it's important to find ways to integrate your narrative into the lives of others, and into the larger organizational culture. Not obnoxiously, not at every meeting, not by disregarding the narratives of others, but by contributing to a shared vision in which you play an essential role. 

How do you create that narrative? Well, first you begin by uncreating any troubling narratives that others may have of you. Here's an example, one of many: Are you fresh out of school, starting your first "real" job? That's good. And yet many folks interpret that narrative in a pre-scripted way, perhaps labeling you as a "newbie" who lacks useful understanding of the "real world" they've taken years to grasp. That's a hard narrative to revise.

How can you edit that powerful but damning narrative? By taking an inventory of how you perform your personal narrative: your attire, your language, even how you talk. Assess whether that performance advances a narrative that helps or hinders you [Remember: Look more, judge less]. In this case, you may prefer to unmake a troubling narrative by demonstrating (again, through deeds, not just words) your maturity, your wisdom, and your awareness of the big picture. 

One especially successful narrative stems from becoming a "go-to" person, the one without whom the organization cannot function. Adopting the narrative of the "indispensable insider" demands more than the facade of impenetrable confidence, though. You must cultivate an ability to listen, to observe, and to ask questions. Mostly you must demonstrate your personal dedication to the larger workplace vision. 

For others to catch your vision, you must first catch the vision of others. 

Thereafter, you should implement your ideal narrative through a mixture of consistency and innovation. Search for opportunities to "do" who you are. A little artful self-promotion can be helpful, but the best positive stories are the ones told about you. And when you are called to speak about your positive actions, convey your story as part of the broader shared vision. Find ways to bolster and celebrate the success of others when telling your own story. Think of success as a multiplier rather than a divider. When you do, others will see your successful story as part of their own personal narrative. They'll want to tell that story, and to help it grow, because it's their story too. 

Still, even the best stories grow stale after a while. Look back on times when you've suffered from a coworker who consistently floats the same platitudes or celebrates the same accomplishments. Isn't it mind-numbing? Even when the news is good, you tire of hearing that story repeatedly. Avoid being known for the same story, even if it's a good one. 

Replenish your personal story with new deeds, new challenges. Forge new ways to contribute to the larger workplace vision. Do what you'll say you do, and then ask yourself, "What's next?" Other people will soon wonder the same thing about you, and they'll want to find out. As your narrative evolves, others will want to contribute to the adventure, to see where it goes. That shared vision will then become a launching pad for your own never-ending story.

There are two ways to summarize this principle. Both are true, but only you can determine which one is right:

Deeds through narrative define you.


You define narrative through deeds. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wood's Unsought Advice 4 of 5: Keep Secrets. Unless You Can't

Terry Pratchett once wrote, "Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom." Inspired by that aphorism (and hoping one day to be wise) I'm sharing some draft comments for a project I might develop in a few years: tips for my students who face a complex and changing workplace. 

Knowledge without context is a recipe for error. Let's say a friend of yours has recently purchased several bags of fertilizer. You know the fact, but you don't know the reason. Is your friend planning to grow a garden or plant a bomb? Context matters -- it may be an issue of life or death -- but it can be hard to discern. You see similar ambiguity in most workplaces. You learn things about your colleagues, but not always in a useful way. People share information with you, but not always with your best interests at heart.

At work you are awash in data. Posted signs, organizational charts, policy statements, formal histories, architectural structures… Each of these (and countless more) provide ways for you to know who's who and what's what. At the same time, much of the data you encounter fails to follow formal channels. This kind of information reflects the flows and dams of interpersonal communication that frequently generate more valuable knowledge than any company newsletter or scheduled meeting. 

Problem is, some of this information is mere gossip. 

Get together with enough people over time and you'll discover plenty of fascinating claims made by some people about others, their backgrounds, their interactions, their limitations, and their agendas. Seemingly innocuous, this kind of information can become distorted, as when you hear a disparaging story about a coworker at lunch only to learn an entirely different story from that colleague later in the afternoon.

For some folks, the very complexity of gossip is its best attribute. One can learn much by studying how a story shifts and warps with each retelling. The ability to trace a story's mutation from person to person helps many would-be office politicians exploit the connections that hold a place together. Best of all, sometimes these folks will promise to share that actionable intelligence with you. 

Even so, be wary of any colleague who leans toward you and whispers, "I really shouldn't pass this along, but I'll tell you..." At that moment, ask yourself, "If my friend would break someone's confidence for me, how do I know he wouldn't do the same thing about me?" Trust me on this one: Few people will keep your secrets for long. The power that comes from insider information -- getting it and sharing it -- is just too tempting.

When someone wants to share secrets about another person, your best strategy is avoidance: "Sorry, I don't want to contribute to the gossip mill." Just don't play the game. Cultivate instead a reputation for speaking directly with people, never settling for second-hand information. And should someone share their secrets with you, not as gossip but as genuinely personal information, never tell a soul. Keep secrets...

Until you can't.

In some cases, you never want to be the last person keeping a secret. Do you think that only Bernie Madoff, the disgraced ponzi schemer, went to prison for his crimes? He wasn't alone in paying the price. Many of his friends and family members also face jail time, financial ruin, or at least a lifetime of shame for holding Madoff's crimes in confidence. 

These supposedly smart people did a dumb thing by keeping Madoff's secrets. Why did they do it? Well, they too wanted to go along, to avoid being tarred as untrustworthy, as a snitch. They calculated a short-term benefit while ignoring the long-term cost. Today they're thinking differently, and you should too. 

It may be as simple as observing one person using discriminatory language in the workplace. Will you simply stand by and say nothing? Sure, you might rebuke that language immediately, or you might have a personal chat with the offender later on. OK. But what if the offense continues and nothing is done?

In such a case, you must share your concerns with a trusted person at a higher level of responsibility. That choice is fraught with difficulty, no doubt. You don't want to earn a reputation as a tattle-tale, whether in kindergarden or in the adult world, but neither do you want to confront this question: "You saw this and failed to report? Doesn't that mean that you allowed it to continue?"  

Don't trade in gossip, but remember: Some secrets simply can't be kept.