Timeline of why NOBODY should EVER, EVER ship via UPS to a South Philly residence. #UPSFail

The following is my personal timeline break-down of why NOBODY should EVER, EVER, send packages to anyone in South Philadelphia, using UPS. #UPSFail


Day 1 / Friday / 6pm // Come home to the first Delivery Attempt Notice. Do nothing. (stupid on my part apparently… I should have just called UPS and ordered a Hold for PickUp. OBVIOUSLY.)

Day 2 / Saturday // UPS Closed. (Why would you want to let people pick-up their packages on the weekend? I mean, you do keep trying to deliver them during the work day, to private residences… maybe everyone should take off from work to be home to receive their UPS delivery?)

Day 3 / Sunday // UPS Closed. (See Day 2 above)

Sorry We're Closed

Day 4 / Monday / 6pm // Come home to the second Delivery Attempt Notice.
Day 4 / Monday / 7:15pm // Realize that making dinner for our hungry 3 year old put us past the “UPS 7pm Request Deadline” window for us to call and hold the package at the main UPS facility… but we call anyway, and start the process.

Angry Toddler

Day 4 / Monday / 7:20pm // Automated phone prompts apparently allow us to Hold for PickUp! Yipee! (…or so we thought.)

I'm a Robot

Day 5 / Tuesday / 11:00am // Log-on to UPS.com and check the status of the package. Tracking Detail trail indicates not one, but TWO “Pick up at UPS Facility” activity updates! WooHoo! That means I can now drive to the horrible Oregon Avenue UPS facility and endure Post-Office-like lines and service! (…or so we thought.) I print the Tracking Details page, just in case… I have done this before mind you.

UPS Truck 1970's

Day 5 / Tuesday / 6:20pm // Roll into depressing, crowded and disorganized UPS facility. Usually, I have to ‘check in’ with a woman at a computer by the doors, but for some random reason, even though she was at her computer doing nothing, the security guard ordered me to step up the regular counter line without checking in… ok. Cool.
I show the attendant my print-out with my 2 UPS InfoNotice slips stuck on it. He looks at them, and I tell him we’ve had 2 attempts, but held it for pickup last night. He then rips one of the InfoNotices roughly off my print out, (the second attempt one) and gruffly asks me if it’s one package or two. (Huh? I can’t say for sure, because the InfoNotice never really has any details about the package(s) and neither does the website’s Tracking Details. Usually we’re lucky if there’s even any indication as to who specifically the package is for, let alone who it’s coming from, or how many parcels it is.) He looks frustrated by my lack of certainty, and points at my driver’s license (which I already have out, knowing it’s usually needed, and me, wanting to be as efficient as I can) and asks me with a frustrated tone, “Is this the address it’s going to?” I say yes, and off he goes into the back, I imagine much like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Alice down the Rabbit Hole

Day 5 / Tuesday / 6:30pm // Attendant comes out calling for some street that is not mine. No one answers him, and after a minute or so, he ducks back down the rabbit hole.
Day 5 /Tuesday / 6:35pm // Attendant emerges again, with InfoNotice in hand. Informs me that the InfoNotice was not for my address. What? And then throws my InfoNotice in the trash. Huh? Ok…. I guess. Then he takes my First Attempt InfoNotice with equal roughness and lack of cordialness, and goes back down the rabbit hole once again.


Day 5 / Tuesday / 6:38pm // My wife texts me that she just got home, and there’s a third InfoNotice. This time saying it’s the Final Attempt and will be returned to sender if we aren’t there to get it. (oh, you mean at 11:30am at my house? Again, should I be taking the day off from work? So I can be there to receive my package and work around your delivery schedule?)
Day 5 / Tuesday / 6:39pm // At home, my wife begins the automated phone prompts once again, but this time, to make sure she speaks to a human being. (all the while juggling our hungry 3 year old)
Day 5 / Tuesday / 6:40pm // UPS attendant emerges once again with my InfoNotice, and informs me that “The package is out for delivery on the truck.” WHAT? “But the truck should be back sometime between 7pm and 8:30pm, and I’m welcome to wait.” WAIT?! WHAT?? YOUR STUPID PHONE ROBOT SAID IT’S HERE. YOUR STUPID INTERNET ROBOT SAID IT’S HERE. TWICE! NOW YOU’RE TELLING ME I’M WELCOME TO WAIT HERE FOR UP TO AN HOUR AND 50 MINUTES TO GET MY PACKAGE??!!

Keep Calm and Dont Kill Anyone

…so I try to stay as calm as I can, and tell him that we called in the Hold for Pickup last night, and the phone prompt said it was being held, and the website said it was being held, twice. He then asks me, “Well, what time did you call?” …”Uh, sometime around 7:20-ish I think.” I say. He comes back with an obviously well practiced statement, “Well, on the back of the slip it says you have to call by 7pm, or the hold can’t be guaranteed.” At which point, I inform him that the phone and website said it was held, and here, in the facility, and that’s why I drove my tired ass down to this craptastic facility to get my mystery package …he has nothing else to tell me. Just shrugs, and hands me back my wonderfully useful UPS InfoNotice. I leave verbally yelling that “…UPS is the friggin’ worst place EVER, and I have no idea why ANYONE stills uses them.”

Ups Tossed Packages

Day 5 / Tuesday / 7:10pm // Drove home, now I’m scouring the neighborhood for a parking spot. Coming home this late always means it’s a struggle to find a spot. When I do, I drag my ass home, defeated and frustrated. Wife sympathizes and gives me a hug. I then pretty much immediately plan this blog post and start googling for relevant hashtags…

Day 6 / Wednesday / 11:58am // Search UPS.com for latest InfoNotice, and discover a completely revised Shipment Progress Activity log. Now the two updates from Monday night, about it being held for pickup are gone. Now there are lots of entries about delivery attempts and customer not being there for delivery. The latest activity is from 7:09pm Tuesday night, “The Delivery Change Request for this package has been completed. / Same Day Will Call. As requested, the receiver will pickup at a UPS facility.”

Day 6 / Wednesday / 7:10pm // Drive back down into the depths of delivery hell, to our local Oregon Ave UPS pit. Greeted by no security guard this time, and get sort of directed by UPS attendants walking by, that tonight, we apparently do have to “check-in” with the lady at the computer. How interesting. I wonder how they decide such things? So the two dummies in front of me, didn’t realize they’d need something official with the address on it before they can pick up their crap… step aside dummies and dig up some email on your cell phone or whatever, I don’t care… I have my driver’s license out and ready to go. She looks something up, scribbles some additional cryptic code on the back, completely not related to the tracking code on the front?? And then I get the honor of going into another line, where I wait for an attendant to go back through the rabbit hole… who do I get? The same exact guy I got the night before, who I basically yelled at as I walked out the door. He seems to possibly recognize me, but to my relief, he doesn’t give me any attitude. Just takes my InfoNotice with the scribbles on back, and goes down the rabbit hole.


FDR Skatepark // A Visual History

Last year I was asked to contribute to a book that was in the works to “…visually document FDR skatepark… it’s history… it’s culture… it’s attitude. Youknowhatimean?” Well, I haven’t been to the skatepark in a couple years, but I was pretty involved during it’s creation and growth during the 90’s and early 2000’s. I never really skated it much, but lots of my friends did, (and still do! yeah 50 year old Bud Baum!) and I was usually down there, trying to help however I could. (once hosted a planning meeting/negotiation in my apartment during an especially contentious period of the park’s early first growth spurt.)

Anyway, what I lacked in actually skating, I like to think I made up for in shooting pics. (I know, I know, Freddy, it’s not the same thing, but let me have this! :-) I have boxes and boxes of pictures. Pictures of both FDR skatepark’s birth and at least half dozen years of it’s development. And also from that era, I have probably equal amounts of pictures of a private skate warehouse (Props to Danny Dansak!) that was, alas, not destined to live as long and as strong as FDR skatepark. (It was converted to, eek! luxury studio condos a bunch of years back) So anyway, it was a big task to gather all the thousands of photos, sort through them all… but I figured FDR makes for a great story, and if I didn’t even try, I knew I’d kick myself later. So in between all the craziness of my wife being pregnant and all the nesting activities that come along with that, I found time to gather all my skate photo stuff together and go through it with a couple of the book’s authors. We came up with some selects, and then I had to find the negatives, which was probably the hardest part of the whole effort. (none of the pictures, negatives, and their envelopes seemed to have retained any proper associations over the years) But all that said, it’s all done, and last week THE BOOK CAME OUT!! Below is a description of the book, and below that are my pics from the book!

FDR Skatepark: A Visual History
FDR Skatepark began its life in 1996 with a few small obstacles built by the City of Philadelphia in an attempt to meet the needs of a growing community. In true D-I-Y fashion, local skaters soon gathered their resources and began the ongoing construction of a space of their own design. As the world s largest D-I-Y skateboard park, today FDR is recognized throughout the world as a landmark in the skateboarding community. A photographic history of FDR, this book contains work from more than 25 contributors, from amateurs with disposable cameras to professional photographers. Side by side with the actual skateboarding are photos of wildfires, box cutter wounds, riot police, and drunks shooting sewer rats. Complete with oral histories gathered from park locals, this one-of-a-kind record documents the legend and landscape of the past fifteen years under the bridge.”

Authors: Nicholas Orso, Phil Jackson, Scott Kmiec + various contributors

Cover of the book, FDR Skatepark: A Visual History.
This is the cover. I totally didn’t take this shot of Joey P trying a sweeper… but I figured it would be good to include just the same.

This is my little out-of-focus pic of the birth of FDR's first skater-built construction, the CIA pocket. They blew it up to a full two-page spread! As far as I know, and the authors could figure, this is the earliest picture of skater built construction at FDR.
This is my little out-of-focus pic of the birth of FDR’s first skater-built construction, the CIA pocket. They blew it up to a full two-page spread! As far as I know, and the authors could figure, this is the earliest picture of skater built construction at FDR. (I wish I’d realized how out of focus it was when I took it, but this was before DSLRs, and I didn’t have a wide-angle lens back then, and had to get pretty far away to get it all in… blah, blah, excuses, excuses. It is what it is.)

FDR Skatepark is famous for it's 4th of July party... horizontal fireworks were a predictable mainstay right from the beginning. This shot is probably from 1997.
FDR Skatepark is famous for it’s 4th of July party… horizontal fireworks were a predictable mainstay right from the beginning. This shot is probably from 1997.

This shot is from the same 1997 4th of July party. Bands and punk rock are a staple of FDR 4th of July celebrations, along with a whole lot of beer, and more kooks than you can shake a stick at. You never know exactly what will go down at these 4th of July jams.
This shot is from the same 1997 4th of July party. Bands and punk rock are a staple of FDR 4th of July celebrations, along with a whole lot of beer, and more kooks than you can shake a stick at. You never know exactly what will go down at these 4th of July jams.

I don't remember exactly what is going on in this pic, but if I had to guess, Daily Dave of probably telling Mr. Rogers how it's gonna be, and Carlos & Wes seem to be getting a kick out of the interaction... as Fernando looks pretty fed up with the whole process.  :-)
I don’t remember exactly what is going on in this pic, but if I had to guess, Daily Dave of probably telling Mr. Rogers how it’s gonna be, and Carlos & Wes seem to be getting a kick out of the interaction… as Fernando looks pretty fed up with the whole process. :-)

Darren Menditto blasting some head-high air, with seeming ease! And George Draguns holding onto an inverted view of the world, which he is rightfully proud to do.
Darren Menditto blasting some head-high air, with seeming ease! And George Draguns holding onto an inverted view of the world, which he rightfully is proud to do.

If I find time, I may post more pics that didn’t make the cut for the book. Look for that sometime around Marchtember Oneteenth.

Responsive/Adaptive Web Design

I haven’t posted anything to my blog in way too long of a time, but all I can say is, being a new Poppa can be all consuming. There’s good and bad to that… but mostly good as far as I can see. :-) Anyway, I’ve been excited by the possibilities I’ve been seeing with “Responsive Web Design” for well over a year now, and figured I’d post a little something about it.

The Basics

Previously, if clients were concerned about how their site was viewed on mobile devices, firms would build separate device-specific sites for the more popular devices for their users. Typically the iPhone, for the clients that could worry about and pay for the extra design and development.

So, “Responsive Web Design” is basically creating CSS for your HTML pages that listens to what sort of environment the end-user is using to view the page, and serves up typography, graphics and layout that is best for that environment. What do I mean by “environment”? Well, it’s the difference between viewing a site on your maximized 1600×1200 desktop browser, 1024×768 laptop, or maybe viewing the site from your iPhone oriented vertically. Those are some very different environments, and can be treated differently to make for a better viewing experience for your end user in any of those viewing environments.

Three different sizes (or environments) for viewing the same web page.

The first article I took notice of for this technique was, of course, from the folks at A List Apart:
(Specifically, this article was written by Ethan Marcotte from the famous web blog unstoppablerobotninja.com)

And he even created an example website that had pretty good cross-browser adaptability even for May of 2010. It can be viewed here:
(If you are on a non-mobile device, try resizing the browser, and watch the page completely respond to your changing environment. If you are on a mobile device, you can rotate the orientation of the device to see 2 potentially different layouts.)

If you’ve ever been tasked to make a beautiful and usable website for a client, and then asked as an after-thought to make an iPhone version of the site, this new methodology can be amazingly exciting.

My Experiment

Just as an experiment, to try and play with this a bit, I made a page using my usual technique of cobbling together other people’s online tutorials and examples and then bashing it into something close to what I want it to look like. I need to read up more about Fluid Images but here is what I have so far:

Some Light Reading

If this is as exciting to you as it is to me, here are some additional links to get more details:

The Basic Concept

Lots more details and examples

A great grouping of additional articles that would prove quite helpful

What about applying this to Email Newsletters?
(Not sure about the cross-browser/email-browser support of @media queries, but this is potentially a powerful application of Responsive Web Design)


Night Kitchen Website Re-Skin

Night Kitchen Website Re-Skin - Home Page
Night Kitchen Website Re-Skin – Home Page
Night Kitchen Website Re-Skin - People Page
Night Kitchen Website Re-Skin – People Page
Night Kitchen Website Re-Skin - Portfolio Page
Night Kitchen Website Re-Skin – Portfolio Page

Summary: What’s that old expression? “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.” The Night Kitchen website had been neglected for more than a few years, and needed a refreshing. There were extremely tight restrictions on time and technology used, so this was definitely a “re-skinning” and not a full redesign.

We wanted a new look for the Night Kitchen website that would encourage visitors to explore our stories, interactive projects and designs in depth. Our redesigned portfolio promotes a selection of recent projects which highlight NK’s engaging approach to interactive storytelling, which aims to provide transformative and meaningful experiences that connect with audiences.

Tech: Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, Actionscript, HTML, CSS
Role: Lead Designer / Lead Flash Designer
Link: www.whatscookin.com

Smithsonian’s NMAH ~ Educational Citizenship Website

Summary: Working in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office, we developed an interactive, multimedia-rich website that supports aspiring citizens’ efforts to pass the civics portion of the new USCIS Citizenship Test.

Using content from the NMAH collections and working with a consultant that specializes in teaching English as a second language, we created a flexible, progressively scaffolded learning environment through which students move through learning, practice, and test stages commensurate with their mastery of the question topics. Given that the interactive experience should appeal to learners for whom English is a second language, and that the civics test is conducted as an oral interview, voiceover narration and closed-captions are provided, and learners have the opportunity to practice responding to the audio prompts.

The framework contains 100 vignettes, 19 activities, and 32 zoomable object explorations, that help extend learning beyond merely teaching to the 100 questions on the test. Instead, using objects and documents from its collections the NMAH offers aspiring citizens a vibrant look at our nation’s history, the functions of our government, the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens, and the power of democracy. By providing context to the questions on the test, prospective citizens can facilitate their learning of complex facts and concepts, and draw a deeper connection to the significance of becoming an American citizen.

100 Historical vignettes
51 Interactive activities
15 Topic areas
1 Daunting test demystified

AAM EdCom Award for Excellence, 2013
IMA Award Best in Class for Government, 2013
IMA Award Best in Class for Education, 2013

Tech: Illustrator, Flash, Actionscript, XML, Photoshop, HTML, CSS
Role: Lead Designer / Lead Flash Designer
Link: www.americanhistory.si.edu/citizenship

Smithsonian’s NMAI ~ Environmental Challenges Website

Summary: American Indian people have long thrived on, respected, and protected the environments that make up their homelands. Night Kitchen Interactive collaborated with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) to create an educational website for use in classrooms, to inform younger audiences about the ways in which American Indian communities continue these efforts today.

To fulfill student and teacher needs, the site presents a media-rich, scaffolded learning environment with progress tracking and assessment features. Students watch videos, explore interactive activities, and answer questions along the way to gain deeper insights to the integral role the environment plays in the daily lives of American Indian communities and draw connections to local environmental issues. The culminating classroom presentation activity allows students to collect notes taken across the site into one central web-based planner.

The site was designed and built to be visually inviting and reflective of the rich design traditions and unique voice of each tribal community featured therein. The visual and UX design was crafted to create a learning environment that supports the storytelling traditions that are central to communities featured within the project. Feedback from NMAI and Smithsonian has been glowing.

Tech: Illustrator, Flash, Actionscript, Photoshop, HTML, CSS
Role: Lead Designer / Lead Flash Designer
Link: www.nmai.si.edu/environment/

SFMOMA Country Dog Gentlemen ~ Mobile Website Conversion

Summary: In 2009, with some of the 20th century’s greatest artists as inspiration, Night Kitchen Interactive created an engaging kiosk installation and website, bringing to life the works of Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo and others. Roy De Forest’s colorful work acted as an aesthetic springboard, paving the way for vivid, lively animations. Each animated story reflects an individual artist’s unique approach, creating different extraordinary worlds to be explored. Performance artist Sebastienne Mundheim collaborated with Night Kitchen to craft the voices of two colorful canine characters from Roy De Forest’s work. With the dogs as guides, modeling behaviors of inquiry, this journey through modern masterpieces is reflective, whimsical, and insightful.

These stories and activities excite and inform young museum visitors, inspiring them to contribute their own creative responses to the museum’s website. Targeting children aged 6-10, a rare audience for modern art, this interactive experience engages younger museum visitors and their families with playful narratives and interactive activities. Each reinforces key learning points associated with an individual work and encourages visitors to share their own creative responses in a visitor-contributed gallery on SFMOMA’s website.

In 2011, SFMOMA was interested in adapting the existing Country Dog Gentlemen animations into an HTML5 experience, so visitors with mobile devices that do not support Flash can still partake in the enhanced rich-media experience. We implemented the main menu utilizing “responsive web design” techniques promoted by many of today’s most advanced HTML5 and CSS gurus. We used @media CSS queries in combination with Max and Min device-widths to create a single menu page (and CSS) with break-points that serve up different layouts and different graphics depending on the size and orientation of your device! It was really fun and exciting to be part of bringing this new technique to life while working to improve the museum and online experience for SFMOMA’s younger audiences.

Tech: Illustrator, Photoshop
Role: Lead Designer / Technical Advisor
Link: In-Progress