Fly on the Wall: Pleasant River Matt 11 May 2006

32 comments Latest by Steph Mineart

Some of the activity this week at our internal 37signals Campfire chat room:

Marcel thinks Chicago’s grid system is neat. Jamis countered, “You ain’t seen a grid system until you’ve been to Utah…my address is 2917 W 1230 N.” 90% of the streets in Provo are numbered which makes finding places a snap, according to Jamis. Marcel used to live at the corner of Pleasant and River and imagines that someone, somewhere, lives at the intersection of Church and State.

Jason: Heard the iPod Hi-Fi. It is pretty killer.
Jason: and prettier in person.
Jason: it has that Apple fit and finish that photos can’t capture
Ryan: yeah i checked it out at the apple store and had the same impression
Ryan: the photos make it look like a big block. it does have character it person
Jason: yup
Ryan: and yeah, the sound is damn good

David pointed out this quote, from Wikipedia, on the BMW redesign:

Bangle seems to posture that he wants people to either “love” or “hate” a design, but not be indifferent to it. As such, his designs illicit much more emotional response than previous generations.

I postured that David Blaine has the best Wikipedia table of contents ever…

1 Magic career
1.1 Overview
1.2 Premature Burial
1.3 Frozen in Time
1.4 Vertigo
1.5 Mysterious Stranger
1.6 Above the Below
1.7 Drowned Alive
1.8 Cancelled stunts

…Ryan said it’s like a McSweeneys list. Marcel said they sound like sexual euphemisms. 1.9 The Swirl?

Jamis went to lunch with a guy who, after reading Getting Real, left his job of 17 years and is starting a new company. Jamis said it’s “pretty amazing how many people are getting inspired by that philosophy.”

Ryan had a bad experience with Chase. “Using their web site, I set up an auto payment to pay my credit card statement balance every month on the due date…the screen clear as day says that this is set up…and then the due date goes by without any payment being made…i call to report this, and the person on the phone keeps asking how i set it up instead of verifying for me if it’s actually set up or not…my response to how i set it up — how the hell should i know? your site is confusing and i did this over a month ago…that gets me on hold.” I felt Ryan’s pain: “There always seems to be an awful disconnect between phone support and web site support at banks and companies that have diff silos…try calling an airline and getting help w/ a web site ticketing prob…person on the phone is clueless about how the site works.” I also offered a credit card late fee tip: If you call your credit card company and explain the late payment, they’ll usually waive the late fee (assuming you normally pay on time).

Marcel: it’s really awesome how one of the key parts of figuring something out is getting into the mindset that you totally can and will figure it out
Marcel: it’s like a weird “power of positive thinking” thing
Marcel: which i usually think is a pile of honkus.
Ryan: it’s true. you have to decide the problems are tractable
Jason: I heard Michael Jordan speak on this once. He said something like “I always see myself winning the game.”
Jason: “I can’t see myself losing. If I lose, it’s a mistake.”

Marcel’s friend added a variation to his orchestral personals ad: “harpist searching for a ‘night of heavy plucking.’”

A letter:

There is an article in the May issue of GQ (it doesn’t appear to be online) about the London chef Fergus Henderson. He runs a restaurant called St. John that takes the idea of simplicity to an extreme: white walls, no plants, no paintings, no music.

There is a statement in this article that captures the essence of his restaurant, and I thought you might enjoy it as well:

“Translation: Less is not simply more. Less is every goddamn thing that matters.”

Ryan changed the room’s topic to: “What I cannot create I do not understand.” -Richard Feynman

32 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Gayle 11 May 06

I love the positive thinking, it’s totally true. My one-time mentor once said (no idea if it’s a quote from elsewhere): “Breakthroughs are made by people who don’t know you can’t get there from here.” I’ve always loved that.

Ross 11 May 06

Grid cities rule. NYC is obvious (“da cornuh uh toidy-toid an toid”), but DC is cool too - numbers for N/S streets, names for E/W, with N, S, E, and W additions with the centerpoint on the spire atop US Capitol dome. Even cooler, the E/W streets have patterned names - A-HJ-Z, then two-syllable words starting with A-Z, then three-syllables. No guessing where “Ashland St.” is (like in Chicago) - it would be the 26th block north of the Capitol.

Dan Boland 11 May 06

Wow, I must be an idiot then, because I found DC to be the most terribly confusing city to navigate through in my entire life.

Greg 11 May 06

Wow, I must be an idiot then, because I found DC to be the most terribly confusing city to navigate through in my entire life.

I think we’re both idiots, then. I will not go into that city without taking the Metro or blocking out and extra hour of travel time for how long I’m going to spend driving around in circles. Thank god most of my time in the cities around here is spent in Baltimore.

Olav 11 May 06

It’s amazing how much emotional response the new BMW’s has gotten. He obviously knows how to design stuff that way.

Too bad most of the reactions are negative then..

Jeff Hartman 11 May 06


I had a similar experience with Chase Credit Card services. My online account would no longer allow me to make payments. I figured it was across the board. It came to the point where I needed to make a payment and couldn’t online so I called it in. The payment date went by and I never saw the payment applied. I then got on the phone again and they had no record of me calling it in. Late fee.

We walked through some steps and inevitably got to the “You’re not using Internet Explorer?!” Nope, I’m on a Mac using Safari, Camino, and Firefox. “Do you have a PC you can try it on?” Well, I can fire one up, but it’s been working fine for me on the Mac for months and months.

Two minutes later. All good. I think it’s a magic swtich they have under the desk there.

Peter Lindberg 11 May 06

I beg to differ re: the sound quality of the iPod Hi-Fi.

I agree that the bass is impressive given its size, but the midrange sucks, frankly. You probably listened to music with little or no midrange, which sounds really good. Otherwise it sounds anemic. If you consider buying it, be sure to listen to it first.

Mike Swimm 11 May 06

I hate to be a contrarian but I really don’t like grid cities. Sure it’s nice to be able to easily find something, but isn’t that only really useful for the first couple of years you are there? Once you know your way around I think the grid gets really boring.

I lived in Chicago for years and everytime I flew back into the city at night I felt like I was flying into the matrix. Then I moved to Oahu for a few years where the roads are crazy. Now that I live in Chapel Hill and can compare the two, (initial frustration aside) I much prefer crazy.

Clinton R. Nixon 11 May 06

I used to live near the corner of Religious and Race Streets in New Orleans, which is just a combustile combo.

Anonymous Coward 11 May 06

I always find it interesting who takes the time to use proper capitalization and punctuation in conversations.

Evan 11 May 06

I have to agree with Peter Lindberg regarding the sound of the Hi-Fi - it’s awful. I believe its only redeeming quality is its appearance, and I seem to be in the minority there.

Randall 11 May 06

Unrelated to the post, but check out this search trend graph:

(1) If you zoom in on 2006, Ruby just passed Perl in search popularity (they say the figures are approximate, but still),
(2) Apparently Ruby’s popularity is near Perl’s in the U.S. but not as close in other countries.
(3) If you zoom in on April 2006, you’ll see Perl queries go down on the weekends but Ruby queries don’t.

Eric 11 May 06

If the streets are aligned in a grid, it makes getting from point A to point B pretty darned easy, and always within an easily measured distance. If streets are crazy and all twisty and stuff, depending on what separates them, it could take you forever to travel a short distance. I hate that I have to get into a car to go a short distance. Cars stink, but that’s a different topic, I suppose.

Oahu is a bit different, though, and I think it’s pretty cool. The roads hug the perimeter of the island and in areas where the valleys open up, the roads spread out into the valleys. Makes public transit really easy to plan out.

Jeremy Flint 11 May 06

Here in Birmingham (Alabama, not England) everything is relevant to the railroad tracks (in downtown at least). Everything north of the tracks is marked with north (6th avenue north, 20th street north, etc) and everything south is marked with south.

Makes sense and is easy to navigate the city once you understand that.

ben ransford 11 May 06

My friends in Northampton, MA live at the intersection of Church and State streets. QED!

Luis 11 May 06

Personally, I think the iPod HiFi is much too expensive. The design is simple and somewhat plain in following with the Apple philosophy, but it’s almost too plain.

Jessica 11 May 06

In Annapolis, MD, Church Circle and State Circle are tangent. Close enough to intersecting in my book (which is Euclid).

Brendan 11 May 06

It seems as though most cities have some sort of plan - be it Provo’s numbers or D.C.’s syllable patterns. However, it seems as though these city systems are always shrouded in secrecy, discoverable only on the last day of a third visit or after years of living in a new place.

Does anyone know a good website or reference for travelers or movers looking to hit a fresh city with a better sense of organization?

Matt Todd 11 May 06

I used to live on Ruby Lane, which isn’t particularly significant until you know that my mother’s name was Ruby Lane Todd. :)

I really appreciate you guys putting these things together and sharing them: I’m not very vocal about it usually but it really is refreshing to stop in the middle of my day for a breath of fresh air and some good thinking material: I use it to help out my teams very often.

Looking forward to Sunrise.


Bryan Buchs 11 May 06

My wife’s hometown of Kenosha, WI uses numbered streets and avenues as a grid - streets are N/S and avenues are E/W.

I refuse to drive through an intersection like “91st and 91st” for fear that I’ll be sucked into some sort of vortex.

Bill 11 May 06

Not exactly Church and State, but in North Dallas there is the intersection of Alpha and Omega (Google “Alpha Rd & Omega Dr, Dallas, TX 75244”).

Dan Cheail 11 May 06

Our organisation’s website supports about 60,000 volunteers. We solve the problem of supporting the website over the phone by having the web designers themselves be the ones who answer the phone when there’s a problem.

Nick 11 May 06

I really have to agree with everyone re: DC. I’ve lived in the metro area for 20 years, worked in Georgetown for 3.5 years, and have had clients in DC for two years. I just got lost last week on the way to a meeting.

Erin 11 May 06

How about the corner of High and Dry streets? (Saw it somewhere in Texas…)

Christophe Porteneuve 12 May 06

Didn’t Mark Twain’s write “[They] didn’t know it was impossible, so they did it.”?

I just *love* this quote.

Bryan C 12 May 06

I take the metro into DC once or twice a year at most, so I’m no expert. In my limited experience the city is simple if you’re a pedestrian, but nightmarish if you’re driving. I think it’s the exeptions to the grid that cause the problems. Mainly the disorienting traffic circles (which I despise) and far too many one-way streets. A traffic grid isn’t helpful if traffic isn’t always allowed to follow the grid. You’re in the frustrating position of knowing exactly where you need to be, but you aren’t allowed to get there from here without getting lost again in between. And of course you can’t stop, double-back, or even slow down.

Eric 12 May 06

I’m sincerely frustrated that my city has streets named both Lime and Coconut and they are parallel. Missed opportunities…

Steph Mineart 12 May 06

My online bank app at Regions has been similarly frustrating with missed payments. I have to log in all the time to make sure payments are getting made, which isn’t the hand-off experience that I prefer. Still faster thank checks and stamps, but not quite perfect. It’s made more frustrating because before my bank merged, my online bank app at Union Planters was smooth and flawless.