Why this Houston Astros player has an inspiring mission beyond baseball

Why this Houston Astros player has an inspiring mission beyond baseball

“I totally embrace my stutter — it makes me who I am,” Springer said in a statement when he first took on the role with SAY.

“Some people have blue eyes, some have blonde hair, and some people stutter. I’ve never let it hold me back and with SAY, I want to help kids who stutter build the confidence they need to pursue their own dreams,” he said.

Bravo, Mr. Springer. Bravo.


Then We’ll Get Wet

The waves beneath the dock flowed quickly. The wind on this particular evening was blowing slightly harder than usual. It made for a nice breeze that cooled down the day.

The hammock rocked slowly with the wind. Their bodies had been intertwined for several hours as they napped in the afternoon sun. He awoke to a chill from the wind that made his body jump. He hoped he hadn’t woken her up. But the movement of her legs and arms told him he had.

“I’m sorry, sweetie. I didn’t mean to wake you up”, he said.

She snuggled herself into him even more. “No problem. I didn’t realize we had fallen asleep.”

“Kind of nice, isn’t it?” he yawned.

He could feel her smile next to his chest. She looked up to the sky. Clouds had overtaken the afternoon sun, and the bright light they had climbed into not so long ago had turned to a blue gray blanket above them.

She shuffled to get up, making sure not to tip them off balance.

“No, don’t go. Stay here with me”, he said.

She stood up on the creaky dock and looked out to the water. He watched her from his lazy position. Her long hair was blowing in the wind, and he could see the outline of her body as the wind blew her dress against her skin.

She stood there, staring at the lapping water below. Her body didn’t move. She turned around slowly and looked into his eyes.

“Dance with me”, she said. Her voice was calm, but there was a current of determination infused within it.

He slowly got up and out of the hammock’s embrace and stepped into hers. She held him close. Tight at first, as if she were protecting him. Protecting them. But after a few minutes, her grasp became softer. And slowly, even with no music playing, they swayed back and forth until they were one being, moving in unison.

A drop of water fell on her face. The next fell on top of her head and splashed onto his cheek.

“It’s starting to rain”, he said. He backed his head away from hers to see her face. She looked up to meet his gaze.


Her look had changed.

“We’re going to get wet if we stay here”, he said.

As if all of the love and want and desire and frustration and uncertainty and hope and desperation she felt was about to burst out of her, she smiled. And a small tear ran down her cheek.

“Then we’ll get wet.”


I don’t typically feel surrounded or trapped. Especially by the night. Or even simply by silence. It is so infrequent in my life that when I experience it (like I am tonight) it’s unsettling at first. The night itself envelopes me in a feeling unlike any other. It encloses me in its blanket of darkness. Intellectually, I know it’s the same environment I was in mere hours before. But it’s different. In my bones, the overwhelming sense of being alone makes it different.

As I walk along the pier to the outermost dock, I hear popping sounds. Sounds that, at a distance, sound like the pop rocks we used to throw down as kids. Up close, however, I realize it’s the packed mud underneath the pier expelling oxygen. Almost like it’s breathing. Pops here and there pepper the otherwise silent soundtrack.

I look up as I continue walking. And I am amazed to see the stars. They are so clear and so bright. They are so beautiful that I can’t even describe it. A picture from my phone does it even less justice than words would. The Little Dipper. The Big Dipper. The North Star. The moon shining so brightly it leaves a trail when I look away. I don’t normally see this living in the city. I am mesmerized by the simplicity of it all.

The dock gently sways with the water beneath, and I can hear small fish surfacing and re-diving every now and again. It’s warmer than it was this afternoon. I guess the wind in the area has died down quite a bit.

I stand in the middle, just…being.

Minutes pass. An hour.

The feeling remains.

Weariness kicks in. After a long day of driving and a couple of drinks with dinner, I can feel the exhaustion coming quickly. I turn to walk back down the pier toward the house. Halfway down though, I stop.

How often do I get the opportunity to just be? When it’s just me, the darkness, the silence, and a pier? I turn back to walk again toward the dock.

This is the time, Lee. To soak it in. To feel the warmth surround you. Relish the darkness. The solitude. These are the times to remember when stress levels peak. When it seems like you can’t catch a break. And the world seems to be against you.

That is what has brought me to this place. This magical place of solace. And mud popping. And star gazing.

It is time.

Late Night Truths

The more I listen to singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson, the more I like him. I don’t mean just his music, which I like very much already. Twitter has opened the door for artists like Matt to share their personal thoughts as well as their music with fans and followers alike.

This past February 18th, Matt was up late (California time) and tweeting. Here are his series of tweets (unedited in all its Twitter shorthand glory):

I’m not sure how people turn off the world. lately, for me, it just feels like a faucet that’s been left on.

we get so much information. so many voices. screaming their opinion. being an actual expert on something has so little currency.

it’s so hard to get humans to focus on real problems. because no one feels empowered. why is it so hard to love ourselves?

we are capable of so much greatness. but we spend so much of our time squandering our energy on fear-based, useless hate.

90% of people know just enough about things like race and government. and the environment. to be paralyzed. and no one listens.

i mean… we have a presidential candidate who posted a photo of a fucking gun on his socials and wrote ‘america’

the only way to get your message heard through the din is blunt force trauma.

and we are so polarized and hopeless as a country, that NO ONE HEARS ANYONE.

garbage in / garbage out. this is just a fact. where is the nutrition coming from in this culture? we need voices of fucking kindness.

and empathy. on REAL issues. not just photos of fucking cats.

we have to see the bigoted, racist, sexist parts of ourselves. and be honest about them. in order to evolve past them. we have to LISTEN

to other people’s experiences. and shut our fucking mouths. (this coming from the king of privilege over here.. straight, white, and male.)

it is our job to be optimists. it is our job to be kind. it is our job to live our life without hurting ourselves or others.

it is our job to clear space for the voices of those without voices. it is our job to listen to those we don’t understand.

it is our job to treat these fundamental problems at their roots. not beat them over the head with a sledgehammer and think they will die.

most of the stuff we fear and guard against, as individuals, NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO US. what a colossal waste of energy.

I love what Matt is saying here. I love how he’s saying it. The raw emotion.
Just like his music, his words prove to be powerful as well.


Sitting on the edge of the river walk on a beautiful and clear Seattle night, I see lights emerge in the sky. They seem to burst into life, as if from the heavens. They are streaking across the sky, left to right. On their way to oblivion.

Yet, they turn when they are almost out of view. And they head toward me. Growing bigger as they get closer. The lights suddenly light a trail in the water below. Shimmering. Dancing. On their own way through the night.

These lights grow larger and larger, until they start to form their own unique shape. There’s one light. No two. No, now even four.

The plane passes overhead. It’s booming sound cutting into the gentle lapping of the waves. It passes straight overhead. And I look up to watch it float over me.

As I bring my head back down, I look across the water again. And there they are. More lights emerging from the heavens. And the dance begins again.

An Event Apart 2015 – Atlanta: Day Two

Designing for Crisis
Eric Meyer, Author, CSS: The Definitive Guide

– crisis drives you “how do i get to my [loved one]”
– opened iPhone and went to find Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; saw full desktop site
– couldn’t figure out how to navigate; couldn’t think clearly
– looked in center column (where the content should be)…nothing of use
– looked in left column for structure…nothing of use
– looked for site navigation (admittedly subtle and themed correctly)…missed it completely the first time
– no consistency in verbiage (Emergency Room vs. Emergency Department)
– placement of “Contact Us” (and font) looked like ad (brain is trained for it)
– so many roadblocks to finding the answer to the simple question of how to find your loved one
– “You don’t get to decide what your users will want to do on mobile. They do.” – Karen McGrane
– we don’t get to decide their mood, their concentration level, their ability to think clearly
– TIP: add another persona to your end user list: someone in crisis
– Empathy: fully imagine being a person who DOESN’T know how this shit works
– TIP: on top of persona, add contexts to user requirements (example: time of day)
– helpful tip for airline passengers: Airlines should provide (in-app) maps of the airport, with a route pointing the user from the gate they are arriving into to the connecting flight’s departure gate (relieves stress)
– error handling: you’ve got to tell the user what action to take if an error occurs
– processing: you’ve got to tell the user that the system is working
– give the users options that will fit within the context they are in (car accident; do not force IE on them)
– do things that will never be noticed; if they are never noticed, you’ve done your job
– they will never thank you, but the thanks is from all of us to you

Talk Links
Torre Kean’s Notes

Smaller, Faster Web Sites
Mat Marquis, Developer, Bocoup

– Users care about their information and how they can get to it and use it
– We force our own context on our users (we assume high transfer rates / fast processors / lots of memory)
– Need to build a “Built for me” site, not a “Works best on…”
– Page weight (i.e. faster load times) opens opportunity for so many things
– currently, mobile/tablet usage accounts for 35% of all Worldwide Internet traffic
– EDGE is 50% of that usage; 3G is 30%; leaving 20% 4G+
– 71% people expect websites to load faster on phone than desktop
– 72% of responsive sites send roughly the same data to mobile and desktop users
– “Cutting down on the weight of our images is the single greatest bandwidth shaving we can achieve.”
– Smaller Websites
– average page weight: 2MB
– JS crept up in size; images have become much worse (retina is the reason)
– srcset to the rescue
– icons are a problem, too (“Pictures shouldn’t be made of math”)
– SVG’s supposedly to the rescue (not all browsers support; looking at you Android)
– Faster Websites
– Critical CSS (serve only stylesheets needed for current context)
– initial TCP/IP connection carries 14KB (sends markup and head content)
– the rest of the requests happen after the initial connection
– Deferred Loading of Webfonts
– most browsers wait 3 sec to load webfont before falling back to system defaults
– Set a Performance Budget
– We build purpose, not just websites
– “I take pride in building things that are invisible. That’s beautiful.” -@wilto #aeaatl

Talk Links
Torre Kean’s Notes
Chris Zacharias: Page Weight Matters
Above-the-Fold Detector

Responsive Images Are Here. Now What?
Jason Grigsby, Co-Founder, Cloud Four

– Currently shipped in Opera and Chrome
– In development for Safari and Firefox; IE “considering”
– Images have always been difficult (remember web colors?)
– Use Cases
1) Resolution Switching (one image, multiple sizes)
2) Art Direction (cropping when/where appropriate -OR- different assets)
is always required
– Sometimes, is all you need
– But what about high density displays?
– srcset to the rescue: 1X vs 2X display density identifier
– if that’s not enough, provide browser with width specs
– How do browsers pick the correct source image from ?
– Images are downloaded before size is known (viewport is only known size)
– Tug of war between Lookahead processor vs. Responsive Images
– The pre-parser is why we can’t solve responsive images with CSS/JS/new image format
– BUT…it makes browsing experience 20% faster
– Sizes
– provides max-width queries to base images on viewport width (vw)
– Let the browsers be smart
– So when do we use ?
– art direction (providing different images based on context)
– What about CSS?
– Art Direction
– image-set(): can be used in CSS where src-set would be used inline
– image-set() doesn’t support density definitions yet
– Image Breakpoints: images normally tell you when they need to change
– Resolution Switching
– Image Breakpoints: Hmm…don’t have any idea (depends on image, need, rules, etc)
– Responsive Image Community Group
– Use of polyfills work with older browsers (Scott Jehl)

Talk Links
Torre Kean’s Notes
A List Apart: Responsive Images in Practice

Prototyping and Play
Dave Rupert, Paravel; The Shop Talk Show

– Co-host of Shop Talk Show (co-host with Chris Coyier)
– Tools to Help
1) Clicky Image Prototypes
– invisionapp.com (prototyping)
– flinto.com
2) Clicky Motion Prototypes
– framer.js
– Origami
3) Code Prototypes
– codepen.io
– jekyllrb.com
– Pattern Labs (atomic design) (patternlab.io)
4) Frameworks & Libraries
– getbootstrap.com
– foundation.zurb.com
– ionicframework.com
– “Spend less time designing the Container and more time designing the Content.” – Trent Walton
– How We Prototype
– Goal: get to code as soon as possible
– Start with sketching
– “The fidelity of your prototype should match the fidelity of your thinking.” – Jared Spool
– Share what you’re building; make sure people know what you’re doing, the decisions you’re making
– “Don’t Hoard the Process”
– unintentionally creates animosity
– Web Design is a Team Sport
– We’ve got to set goals to match skills
– Benefits of Prototypes in the Workplace
– Prototypes help solve arguments
– “Won’t work ‘cause it’s weird” – Me. Every project ever.
– “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand meetings.” -IDEO
– You WOW upper management
– “The technical challenges of integrating with the CMS are huge when [a design is] not even tested yet.” – Chris Balt, Microsoft, on the RWD Podcast
– The Costs of Not Shipping
– Turnonver
– Biggest Failures
1) Too Many Designers
2) Didn’t Code Soon Enough

Talk Links
Torre Kean’s Notes
Making Front-end Development a Team Sport

Content Amid Chaos
Sara Wachter-Boettcher, Author, Content Everywhere

– We love the web, so we don’t want to see it trashed
– Gripes about websites:
– Always late
– Not mobile-ready
– Too corporate
– Totally irrelevant
– Way too long
– Redundant
– We’re really talking about “not-my-problem” or “too-big-to-try” problems, not content problems.
– How can web projects fix those problems?
– Turn your project into a catalyst project
1) Make change feel achievable
– most people want to do a good job
– but big problems feel…big
– Start with just one thing (Visible / Valuable / Scope-able)
– sweet spot is between your skills and area of influence and what’s causing problems right now
– Fix something…don’t necessarily fix everything
– Small wins build optimism
2) Aim for ownership
– We can’t just wait around for “someone else” to fix it
– We need people to take charge
– Get people problem-solving together (Ask, don’t just tell.) (Do, don’t just talk.)
– Doing things with people > doing things for people.
3) Get a commitment
– Maps give us momentum
– Maps connect vision to operations (defines where you’re headed)
– example: Unstructured (scattered) content ——> Structured (indexable) content
– Identify potential projects / challenges: break down into tasks
– Decide who will lead each charge / Set a cadence for progress
– Maps keep us moving
– We’re not here for perfection. We’re here to change for the better.

Talk Links
Torre Kean’s Notes

Magical UX and the Internet of Things
Josh Clark, Principal, Global Moxie

– Interactions not just keyboard/mouse anymore; now there’s touch/natural gestures
– Design beyond the screen is coming; we have to be ready (“Expecto Patronum” is coming)
– Common technology will lead to these new design interactions to user experiences

A Performance in Three Acts
1) Magic & Technology
– “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke
– “Fantasy fuels a need for a simpler, more controllable world.” – Alan Kay
– “One goal: Make the computer disappear” – Alan Kay
– The phone is the first Magic Wand (aka Internet of Things Device) for everyone
– Sensors + Smarts + Connectivity = Magic
– “Mobile is available at the point of inspiration.” – Tomi Ahonen
– Mobile phones bring computing power to immobile objects (we can now embed smart brains in anything)
– Average smartphone screen time: 3+ hours a day.
– The more connected we are the more disconnected we are
2) Physical Meets Digital
– Physical interaction with a digital API
– The world IS the interface
– The world IS ALSO a data source
– The world is a big canvas
– The world has depth and mass
– Gather data for insight; Channel intention
3) Magic, Imagined
– “What is ____ was magic?”
– Add insight, not just data
– Make the tech invisible
– Build systems smart enough to know they’re not smart enough
– Algorithms can go VERY wrong
– The magic is not about the thing; it’s about the combo of sensors/smarts/connectivity
– Technology should amplify our humanity

– It’s not “Can We?”, it’s “How Will We?”

Talk Links
Torre Kean’s Notes

An Event Apart 2015 – Atlanta: Day One

My notes from An Event Apart 2015 – Atlanta:

General Links

Jeffrey Zeldman
The Work That Dare Not Speak its Name

  • “They still see you as how they hired you. First impressions are forever”
  • Great work + bad attitude = fired
  • Tell the story of the project’s success.
  • Dare to speak. Unlock your inner voice. Blog!
  • “Expert” just means you started before someone else.
  • How to be You
    • Know yourself; change yourself
    • Manage your managers
    • Blogs and side projects show what you can do

Talk Links

Sarah Parmenter
Designing for Social Behavior

  • Why do people comment?

    • Is it doing any good?
    • People comment due to “Participation Media” -> people want to make ripples
    • Tribe Behavior/Mentality
    • People will find loopholes. ALWAYS!
  • Never had a crisis meeting about anyone’s genitalia
  • Lovers and haters are always the quickest to become known
  • How to Capture Users

    1. Commitment to the Cause

      • consistency (relied upon to keep producing)
      • Show up and do it…again and again and again
    2. Authenticity

      • give users something they can’t get elsewhere
      • be honest, brutally honest
      • real always wins out
    3. Emotion

      • free people prime example
      • use user-generated content (viewed as very authentic)
      • tweets are very positive and airy
      • blog: constantly updated (most posts are aspirational)

Talk Links

Samantha Warren
Change or Die: Creating Successful Design Methods for a Multi-Device World

As designers, we are set in our ways
As designers we tend to get set in our ways, we need to adapt to the users context instead of our own
Yet, we are in a constantly changing profession (especially devices)
Blindsided by Context
Reasons People Don’t Change
1) Fear
2) Time
3) Comfort (we must empathize)
Passion is infectious. Change is infectious if passion is there.
cnn.com responsive re-design
Tactics for executing change:
1) Plant the seed
2) The Already Done (just do it)
– A prototype can save a thousand meetings
3) Money Talks
– Speak the language of business (convincing for change)
– How can it impact money, bottom line, sales, etc
– Process Change: Design = Time = Money
4) Share
– Internally (Basecamp, Yammer, blogs, emails, etc)
– Publicly (conferences, blog posts, white papers)

“If it’s not in the wiki, then it doesn’t exist.”

Talk Links

Yesenia Perez-Cruz
Design Decisions Through the Lens of Performance

No one sets out to design a slow, heavy site
– poor planning, communication, awareness
Design is a balancing act (help users build up brands and goals vs business goals)
Consider overall user experience (not just visuals)
What is performance?
– how quickly web pages load
– how quickly content is delivered to intended audience
Why design for performance?
– online users allow 1-2 seconds of load time
– users go to competitors if loads 250ms faster
– global network speeds vary significantly
How do we do this?
1) Think about performance from beginning
– make performance a project goal (in requirements doc)
2) Establish performance budget
3) Communicate and document.

Talk Links

Tim Brown
Typesetting Body Text Like a Pirate Jedi with a DeLorean

Talk Links

Dan Mall
So…What Do I Make?

Designers Plan

  • Interview (ask the users; after all, they use it)
  • Write Manifesto
    -Creative Direction (point of view): says what you’re going to do AND what you’re NOT going to do

Designers Inventory

  • Interface Inventory
    – take an interface inventory; consolidate, consolidate, consolidate
    – makes user’s cognitive load smaller
  • Performance Budget
    – it does matter! (sometimes life and death -> Radio Free Europe)
    – take an inventory of now: cut it to 80% of current load time -> goal
  • Visual Inventory
    – Find examples of “other” ways to view their business/brand
    – Look for color, concept, and tone for the client

Designers Sketch

  • Element Collage
    – listen to the client; listen for phrases
    – turn those powerful phrases into visual hooks
    – show different variations to show possibilities
  • Prototypes
    – Each prototype must take less than 1 hour
    – 1st prototype should be something anyone can build
    – build ugly (always come back to the ugly to polish)
    – every prototype should solve one problem and one problem only

Designers Assemble

  • Mise en place (everything in its place
  • Libraries (building a comp is dragging elements in)
    – Pattern Lab (atomic design framework idea)
  • Ultimate Tool for Designers: Empathy

Talk Links