Jon Armstrong

Interview with Jon Armstrong /Blurbomat

photo by Tyler Gourley

You’d have to look hard, like under an earthquake retrofitted bridge foundation, to find a more devoted husband and father than Jon Armstrong, which is enough to make him likable on all fronts. However, you might not know that his talents include modeling, dog wrangling
and art direction. He takes fantastic photos, which he posts here and here. He is a master web designer and has created some very smart and stylish logos. And if all that weren’t enough, he owns a pair of clogs.

Blog Birthday:

March 15, 2001, but I bought the domain in 1999.

Why do you blog?

To keep writing and to find other frustrated liberals who may or may not use Apple products. I also publish because when I read Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson, I dreamed of having a column and being all meta. Thompson was one of the first great mainstream meta reporters. This is going to be a long answer if I don’t stop now.

What do you talk about?

Politics, social issues, Apple stuff, web/geek stuff, some design/ marketing/branding stuff, being a father (although less about that lately) and photography.

What don’t you talk about? Why?

I have some stuff that I like to keep private. It’s a combination of a pseudo-Victorian upbringing and a mild paranoia. Think E.M. Forster with a touch of conspiracy-grade Ludlum.

Worst/best experience regarding something you wrote in your blog or put out on the net?

The worst: leaving comments open when we put the ads up on dooce. Heather handles the pressures of bad email better than I did the bad comments. It took a lot of restraint not to name call and scream back at people. I realized they needed to vent and we may have lost some readers. Although, it did thicken my skin, so perhaps it wasn’t so bad after all.

The best experience has to be talking openly. The supportive comments and emails are astounding. It really re-affirms my belief that people are inherently good and have good will. I’ve learned that opening up can yield wonderful benefits.

Favorite/worst thing about living where you live?

Favorite thing has to be seasons. Having four seasons again after Los Angeles’ perpetual summer is cool. It’s not so fun with a toddler, but when things turn green and the flip flops emerge from their hibernation, it’s the most wonderful feeling; it’s as if one can be hopeful again when you see the green start to appear.

Worst thing has to be the thermal inversion that happens every winter and makes the city smoggy. Maybe not as bad as Los Angeles smoggy, but smoggy enough to hide the mountains. You’ll note I didn’t say a preponderance of Mormons.

If you were president of the US:

I’d disband the military entirely and spend the money on teacher salaries as well as encouraging public innovation. I’d hire experts to get these done. I’d also push for a more open society. Every adult would be allowed to marry other consenting adults.

What actor would play you in the movie of your life?

Jason Lee.

Favorite color:

I can’t pick just one. Ultramarine blue. Dark sage. Cadmium yellow dark.

Favorite food:

The potato in all its forms. Great in Eastern and Western foods. Shredded potato hash browns cooked with lots of butter and browned on the outside to perfection are the best way to start a big day. I’m thinking about the Pork Store on Haight Street in San Francisco. Great hash browns.

When you were 10, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be smart. I thought about being an astronaut, you know, to carry on the Neil Armstrong tradition.

What do you hate?

That life happens too quickly. There are days when I can’t seem to get enough done.

What do you love?

The closest two females in my life. First, Heather, my loving, supportive wife who happens to write well, possess a fantastic sense of humor as well as kick about 15 million kinds of ass. Second, Leta, my beautiful daughter who is just beginning to teach me.

What do you want to tell other bloggers, if anything?

You inspire me every single day.

Astounding facts about you:

I have a donor cornea in my right eye.

Are you Windows or Mac? Why?

Mac, but I use Heather’s old Windows machine for browser testing. I like having the best tool for what I do and I think the Mac is that tool. It’s not perfect, but doing the same tasks on a Mac or PC, the Mac just feels better. Something in the whole aesthetic package feels good.

Who are your heroes?

My wife. My mother & father. I could talk about strangers, but really, it would all tie back to these three people. Heather is an amazing woman.

How would your wife describe you? How about your parents/family?

The wrong body part was used in my surname. “Arm” should be replaced with “jaw”. And that I like conversational tangents far too much. I would hope they had kind things to say, but I think it would center around the talking. And probably the facial hair.

Tell me about how Heather’s illness has affected your life.

The biggest thing has been to appreciate every single day. For quite awhile during Leta’s first few months, I wasn’t sure what I would be coming home to at the end of a work day. The summer of 2004 was pretty bad, and I tried to be positive and upbeat, but ultimately I learned I couldn’t fix her. I think this is the biggest male-who-is-a-significant-other delusion; that we can somehow fix it. Learning this is fundamental to dealing with a person who suffers from a mental illness. I had to learn to accept and support. This was difficult and something I’m still working on. Heather got help, and thank God, the meds work. There are still hard days and I still have to remember what I’ve learned, but it’s gotten better.

When I hear of others who suffer from mental illness, my reaction is completely different now, as opposed to before I was with Heather. I think that Heather has done a great service to women by being so open. So many people have written in thanking her for her candor, and it’s really been affirming and heartwarming. I think it’s encouraged me to be more open.

Why did you start posting Whores? How do you pick them?

I wanted to beef up my site in 2002, and I lived in Los Angeles. It’s the biggest and best of the whore towns and it just seemed a great place to be able to bitch about famous people. I think since Leta has been born, I’ve had a bit of a rethinking of the section. Also, Heather has had some pretty negative stuff written about her and part of me just feels like I’m only adding to the karmic pool of negativity online. Still, the current President needs all the calling out in the world, and I think most people agree. Except in the state where I live. So now it’s really low hanging fruit.

What are you working on right now?

It’s mostly secret.

What do you do to stay sane and keep healthy?

I’m not doing so good with that. I think the winter is starting to take its toll. Working from home is awesome, but much more difficult now that Leta is walking and talking.

Do you miss your band, Swim Herschel Swim?

I don’t miss the band. It was very hard work, and by the end, wasn’t worth the time for me. Also, I was married for all but the first year of the band, so it wasn’t like I was getting any action by being in a band. I think being a part of the music press opened my eyes to the horrible lifestyle that most bands have to live to put food on the table. I haven’t performed since 1996 (at a friend’s wedding). I’ve done some music, but not on a stage in front of people. I don’t know what’s out there. I’ve thought about posting mp3s, but I’m not sure I could afford the bandwidth.

What will you being doing next year?

Hopefully selling good photos.

Tell me a secret?

I’m much more boring than I used to be.

How is it going selling stuff through your website?

We sold pretty well according to Lulu, but not what I thought we’d do. It’s made us pause about tchotkes/schwag in general. So many people requested a chuck calendar, but really, only a tiny fraction of readers purchased it. We only cleared a few dollars per calendar sold. That’s not me whining. That’s me saying we didn’t clear $10/per calendar. It was much less and I think people who might be thinking they can make a lot of money selling stuff on their site might want to research it. We didn’t know what we’d end up selling or making. It was an experiment for us. That someone else took care of the fulfillment was a godsend.

I love that you have your newest comments so easily accessible. Was that a design choice?

Thanks! I saw other sites doing it, most notable was flickr. Derek does it on, and I thought that it would be a fun exercise with Movable Type to build the page. On some days, it’s the only way to keep up.

Is this you?

No, but we put on shows with them all the time in Utah. The drummer is the guy behind The Daily Mumps. Quite a talented guy.

Thanks, Jon.

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