.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Searching for the Moon
My original blog - I have moved to http://shannonclark.wordpress.com so this remains only as an archive.
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Searching for the Moon
by Shannon Clark

Thursday, August 09, 2007

This blog has been moved
I have moved Searching For the Moon to wordpress.com. I did so because when I moved blogspot.com was no longer very useful, since then it has been improved but I am happy with my new blog location.

8/09/2007 06:47:00 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Furniture shopping in San Francisco
I have moved into my new apartment (wish it were a condo, I'd buy it in a heartbeat if it were for sale, though I doubt I could really afford it) and for the past few weeks I have been exploring the furniture stores of San Francisco (on my own) and trying to figure out what will work in my new place.

This is a story about the good and the very bad (and not to mention the tons of cheap, cheesy and/or cheaply made yet overpriced).

If you don't know me (that's my photo up on the side of this blog). I'm male, in my early 30's, and today I am dressed in a nice blue dress shirt and grey slacks, carrying a Crumpler computer bag (which if you don't know is a very good but not all that cheap bag) and today I was listening to my ipod shuffle. My haircut's recent, though today I am a bit scruffy (didn't shave this morning). But I mention all of this because today I had a serious study in contrasts - and one of the most puzzling, rudest and most basically annoying retail experiences perhaps in my entire life.

I have always been told that one of the keys to retail is to not make assumptions about your customers - and especially here in the Bay Area I would think that stores, even relatively high end stores, really would need to heed that advice - I am probably very similar in apprearance to hundreds of software/tech industry millionaires (though I'm certainly not a millionaire yet), and while I'm not a millionaire, I do have money earmarked for furniture - and it is much more than an IKEA/student budget - I have about 1700 sq. ft.+ of apartment to furnish, I like to entertain, and I want to create for one of the first times in my life a space that is true to myself and my tastes - and one that I can share and enjoy with friends.

In short I am a very real customer, with the money to buy, and I have been shopping for a number of weeks.

So today, when I walked into the store "In Your Element" (not going to give them the benefit of a link - go search for their website if you like - but read on before you think about shopping there).

They have a window display of very nice looking modern furniture, and a sidewalk display stand pointing people to how to find them - nothing on any of that sign or on their doorway indicating that they are "for the trade only". I walked in and as I am wont to do started looking at the pieces that caught my eye, feeling the fabrics, and looking at the prices. They were high, but not unreasonablely so, and the quality looked to be very nice, almost everything was from Italy, and there were a couple of pieces in particular that caught my eye. One was even relatively speaking affordable - it was one of a series of very simple, yet elegent, small tables that they had, some bar height but some not bar height, and most under $500.

Possibly ideal for my kitchen, where I want something simple and elegent, but with a touch of style and some practical elements. Nothing fancy about the materials, though they were elegently used (and most definitely not the cheap country pine furniture or shoddy particle board/mdf stuff I've seen in too many places and on craigslist).

So I wanted to seriously inquire, however as I was walking through the store one of the employees after briefly greeting me, quickly started avoiding me and running around the store picking up the pricetags and cards that described all of the furniture in the place - in an attempt I can only guess to get me to leave and to prevent me from learning their prices or what the pieces were.

It was truly incrediably bizzare.

And by far the rudest experience I have ever had in a retail environment (ruder even than the, also Italian, man who kicked me out of his 'private' club for also looking at the prices and menu while thinking about getting gelato, makes me wonder if there is something non-Italian about looking at prices?). That at least was direct - if also incrediably rude. This however was quietly rude and grating.

I attempted to engage him - I asked for the dimensions of the table options - and he did in fact give me the dimensions - which were, unfortunately, exactly what I am looking for, (32" x 32" - not clear if it was counter height or not - would prefer not). But when I tried to ask him about the price - he gave up, stonewalled, and was about as rude as he could possibly be.

To test that it wasn't something I had eaten at lunch or some "be rude to me vibe" I was giving off, I walked up the street to my destination, a great furniture store called Khyber Pass Outlet (I'll try to find a link for them - they are hard to find - one related resource I found while looking for them, however is a great Guide to buying Rugs which I will probably refer back to in the future).

This was my third time looking in Khyber Pass Outlet. It is a crowded but easy to explore furniture store, specializing in imported furniture, much of it direct from China, and quite a lot of it very very nice, great woods, well made, with lots of attention to details. And lots of options to look at.

I will probably return there to order a mirror for my hallway (large, leather wrapped standing mirror - nearly 40" by 69" - not cheap (and it looks it) but not crazy expensive either - and it will be a really stunning addition to my entryway where I plan on placing it.

I may also return there for a really great, pale Elm table they have from China. Made in China by Americans who have incorporated a combination of modern design with traditional craftmanship and quality - resulting in a really stunning set of pieces. If I go that route I'll end up with a 72" x 38" pale blonde Elm table with four square legs and a really elegant yet simple design. Very wide, solid planks and a really functional and beautiful table, one I would treasure for years (my other option I'm considering is also very stunning but in a different way). It is just a bit too big for one thought I have had, which is to buy TWO tables and use them as desks (getting two 5' x 3' or close tables) against the walls of my living room, moving them out into the center only for entertaining.

If I went with the Elm table that plan is out - and I would very tempted to buy a matching, stunning sideboard (will be measuring tonight if it would fit) which would make for a really amazing piece in my room and a great place to serve large meals (and lots of storage for linens, silverware and place settings as well as serving platters etc).

And I would consider looking at their selection of rugs, though I don't know if they have quite the right mix of quality, colot, design, and price for me (not sure I want to spend $3000+ on a rug, even if it is handmade and pretty amazing that's a lot to spend on something that can get stained).

Anyway it was quite a study in contrasts. I was able to talk with the salesclerk at Khyber Pass, discuss the options I am looking at, take measurements, get prices (even get offered a discount off one of the prices on the mirror which I may take her up on) and she didn't blink when I mentioned that I would be going to another store, The Wooden Duck, later this week for their bi-annual sale in Berkeley. From them I plan on buying at least two benches, and very likely a table (which would also work as a desk - though it may be so stunning that I don't want to use it as a desk) and I'm going to look at a number of their other pieces. I'm also considering buying a table and four chairs used from someone on Craigslist, going to look at a similar table while I'm in Berkeley.

In fact she had the confidence to suggest I buy the pieces there that I know I want, and see how they look in my space - as well as offered to let me take a rug home to see if it would work in my space (with an impression of my credit card as collateral). All very reasonable and very confident - and given how frequently their inventory turns (and they have three stores in LA in addition to the stores here, and seem to buy furniture very frequently, new shipment arriving tomorrow in fact, that makes me more confident in coming back to them in the future to get pieces that I would like.

More on the rest of my shopping - mostly bad experiences - after this evening' s networking.

7/25/2006 07:25:00 PM 2 comments

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

On the watching, or not, of fireworks
I went and saw, alone, Superman Returns this evening. Then I ate halfway decent Chinese food at one of the few places still open in Berkeley, and came home where I sit and type this entry, procrastinating the packing and other items that loom in front of me. Having returned from Seattle this past weekend I had over 4000 emails to download yesterday, today I have to start working my way through the real ones (about 1000 or so, many of which I have already dealt with).

And there are many people from Gnomedex I have to follow up with, more on Gnomedex at piecing IT together where I will also blog about my next projects. The MeshWalk on Sunday was a great success and I will also be blogging about that on MeshForum.

But more about the lack of fireworks. Or to be fair, not much more.

It is strange but for a while now, July 4th has been a special holiday for me, a time of friendships, a secular holiday, one that any American can celebrate and enjoy. For a while, it was also an aniversary for me, but not this year.

So this year there were no fireworks.

Tomorrow I start moving, packing, preparing, negotiating my second move this year and prepare to move into the fourth place I've called home in less than a year. A bit scary, but also exciting. My new place is pretty darn cool - much more about that in future posts - and I look forward to living there for a long time to come. But this week will be hard as I pack and move, while working on the many projects and ideas that sprouted while at Gnomedex.

A little bit about my new place - it is in Noe Valley in San Francisco, in a more residential area than I have lived in anytime in the past decade, so that will be an adjustment, but it is still quite near the Muni and some great cafes and restaurants. The place is technically a 1 bedroom, but has a lot of special features.
  • A bedroom which will fit a king bed with much room to spare, has a walk-in close, and french doors to the living room
  • A kitchen, partially updated, with space for a small eat in table and chairs, plus a gas stove, an older fridge and just a portable dishwasher, but overall a very functional room
  • A large living room with a bay window, French Doors and some other great spaces
  • A great sun room off the living room, a perfect space for a desk and reading chair, a space I'll use frequently
But it is the second closet, in the living room, that decided the apartment for me. In that closet is the best feature, a large spiral staircase that leads down to the "bonus" room. The bonus room has two windows (opaqued), hardwood floors, and a steel beam running the down the middle of the room. The space is about 25 x 30 (possibly larger, I'll measure it tomorrow) and is, in short, incrediable. A secret den, a workshop, an amazing media center, a recording studio, the potential uses are countless.

For the moment my plan is to use it as my library, to keep an air mattress there as a guest bed, and to set up my newly won xbox 360 there once I get a projector and screen. I'll then get some desks to place by the windows, couches and/or theater seats for the media spaces, and a large table to use as a work surface or game space, plus some benches and other seats.

In short, it will be my lair, the space where I, and I hope many others, work to build and create, play and laugh.

And I'll set up the upstairs to be a fully functional apartment, plenty of room in all of the rooms for everything I need, I'll probably set it up so you almost wouldn't guess about the extra space that lurks below the apartment...

So that's my fun for the week.

And if you are in San Francisco (or passing through) you have a place to stay if you need it, and this weekend if you are around, I'll probably hold a housewarming - contact me for the evite.

7/05/2006 01:27:00 AM 0 comments

Friday, June 23, 2006

Bloggercon - emotions and blogging
I am sitting at Bloggercon where I am listening to a discussion about emotional blogging and what to put/not put in your blogs.

I tend to write and live in a very open manner - I assume that having been online for so long that pretty much my entire life (warts, glasses, bad habits and all) will show up online and in fairly simple searches. (search flickr for me - you'll see what I mean)

I'm in the midst of looking for a new place to live - moved to the bay area in January and signed a 6 month lease in Berkeley - now I'm looking for a place in San Francisco (possibly with roommates - so not unlikely that you might be reading this very post). My personal relationships are also changing - which puts me in a bit of an awkward position about how/what/if to write about it.

More on that later (if you know me personally, ask I'll explain)

6/23/2006 06:40:00 PM 1 comments

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The (RED) Independant
Go and read The (RED) Independent today.

Independent Online Edition

It is an example to learn from and admire.

A great website and use of online media by an offline brand.

And a powerful statement and impactful gesture by a leading media brand in the UK towards helping with the Aids crisis in Africa. As a reader in the US, it is also a pointed indictment of the debates here in the US about how media might stay relevant. The tone and quality of the writing is much better than I encounter here in the US (good enough in fact that if I were living in the UK I would serious plan on subscribing and reading The Independent on a regular basis).

But as much as that is the case, I am also admiring of the high quality of the ADS on the Independent's website. They are clear, concise, and very well integrated into the site and relevant. I dove into a section of the Independent about education and post-graduate degrees, curious what they were publishing and what their take was. On the upper right, Bloomberg LP had a highly relevant ad, well writen (with a minimum of words) noting that they were hiring.

In contrast in my limited use of US newspapers online, the ads and even the overall experience is much more limiting and the relvance of the ads much lower, as well as the quality of the content much less.

I did not, at least in thie special edition, see any content from The Independent that was not directly from their own writers (or guest editorials). In most cases at the end of the article as published there was more information - about the author at the very least, but in one case a link to the full transcript of the interview which was published (see http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article484987.ece)

So go, read the issue, and do what you can to support Project (REF) (and in the process also encourage more voices of the media to be of as high a quality)

5/16/2006 03:25:00 PM 0 comments

Thursday, April 20, 2006

joan miro - Google Image Search
joan miro - Google Image Search

Check out the Google logo today.

Perhaps my favorite painter - I'm not sure why but Miro is.

I remember an Art Chicago where I spent a lot of time in a booth at Navy Pier looking a very large Miro that was hanging in a gallery from Canada's booth.

For a "mere" $1.5M I could have had a very large, truly incrediable painting by Joan Miro.

And looking at it I realize a small bit of why I really like his work - the colors, the intensity, the patterns and sense of thought, yet fluidity and variablity, the simplicity - but a simplicity that belies a lot of thought and a clear, strong style. You see a work by him and you know that it was by him.

(the logo today is very well done btw)

Art, even unobtainable art is worth attention.

And, very seriously, when I have the money I do hope to have a work by Miro (though unless I am very lucky unlikely a large work like the one I viewed years ago in Chicago).

When my move costs are covered, my condo in Chicago is sold, a new (cheap) car is purchased etc - and when income starts coming in more regularly and significently I plan on starting to more seriously purchase art. My current collection is very eclectic and hard to display - a few pieces by my sister, a few other random pieces, and a collection of Plages magazines (a French art magazine, quarterly, each issue being a limited edition of all original works - so each issue is in fact unique though related to the other issues in that the artists who contribute each make as many versions of their work as there are issues of that quarter's magazine.) And each quarter's issue is on a specific theme.

A very cool but strange work - and my collection has lapsed, so I may have to renew and purchase some back issues the next chance I get.

So for the moment I will just support art via doing things like inviting a number of artists to exhibit and present network related works at MeshForum 2006 May 7-9 in San Francisco

4/20/2006 03:48:00 AM 0 comments

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bill Gates lands role in 'Doctor Who' | News.blog | CNET News.com
Bill Gates lands role in 'Doctor Who' | News.blog | CNET News.com

And yet another reason I will have to get my hands on some episodes of the new Dr. Who one of these days...

With the exception of the current new series, I have seen EVERY single episode of Dr. Who which survives, and even most of the ones that only fragments of which survive. In high school my friend Dwight Sora and I had a collection of Dr. Who items whch included tapes of nearly every episode, most of the then published books, and many many more items. I still have my half of the collection in boxes at my parent's house in Illinois.

I was not a serious fan of Star Wars or Star Trek, I was always more of a fan of Dr. Who. For me, the series had much more complexity and possibilities than either of the more "American" SF series and special effects aside, I always found the ongoing universe of Dr. Who vastly more compelling and engaging. As well, as a fan, I loved how interactive and long standing the series was, with more recent shows (including the latest which I have yet to be seen) clearly being the work of long time fans such as myself.

4/03/2006 11:55:00 PM 0 comments
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Shannon John Clark (email me), b. 1974.

Male (to hold off the assumptions), currently in Chicago, IL.
I am active on many other forums and sites around the Internet. If I am online, feel free to Skype me.
You are also welcome to connect with me on Omidyar Networks on LinkedIn or Ryze.com and my blog on Ecademy or see more about me at MeshForum or my corporate site, JigZaw . I also maintain piecing IT together, as my corporate blog for JigZaw Inc.