The Final Episode

Seinfeld is still my favorite television show. I know there hasn’t been a new episode in 14 years, but there is something about those characters that really resonates with me. I’ve always liked George the best (I’m sure it has something to do with his husky disposition, follicle misfortune, and that he worked for the New York Yankees). I feel like no matter what incident in life that comes my way, Seinfeld has partly prepared me for it. At times the show may not have prepared me how to respond to certain incidents, but at the very least I can find the humor in any situation. Now whether anyone else can find the same humor has yet to be determined.

The only thing that bugs me about Seinfeld is how it ended. If you recall the final episode closed with all of the main characters being placed in jail for their inappropriate response to a bad incident (carjacking). I understand the underlying current that the characters lack character but you can’t put the same characters on trial for all of the things we had grown to love about them. Maybe the writers wanted to create an unsatisfied appetite for more so that we will always yearn for more of the show.

Regardless of how it ended, it’s still my favorite show. Since that last episode I haven’t really found a sitcom that I find as much joy in. Maybe that’s me just getting older and not liking change or keeping up with the times. Maybe because there are no sitcoms any more. Perhaps it is my affinity for the ’90s. The closest show that I enjoy today is the Big Bang Theory, but it is missing something. It’s good. It’s just not the same.

So there’s good news and bad news.

First, the bad (so far as we’re concerned): This is our last installment of IBD. Today’s post will be the end. Luckily for us, Paul and I are not in jail (because we know our wives or Lisa aren’t going to bail us out). Paul wrote on Monday about Closing Quotes and ended with an apology of sorts. I want to say thank you to the community revolving around IBD.

Over the last three years the encouragement that you have provided us has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve heard my wife say to my friends, “Don’t encourage him.” Now I know what she means. We appreciate your input, comments, and the enjoyment (okay, maybe that’s a reach) of our little project.

This blog began as an idea to publish our email conversations that we were already having and to also sell books. Well, at least we published our conversations. We hope at least we perpared you for something (insert your own joke here).

So how do we end this on a positive note? I’m not sure. It is bothering us seeing it end. When I feel the anxiety welling, I think back to relationships that have been formed because of a silly blog. Much like the character witnesses that came forward in the Seinfeld finale trail, you have been a big part of our run. At times when writing was an exercise in discipline, we found inspiration from you.

But wait, there’s more.

The good news: On April 2, we are coming back in a different way (much like Teen Wolf 2, we know how well that turned out). Our new project has been titled Media Platypus. Why? you may ask. Because Paul wanted to see if I could spell platypus and seriously, what’s more fun than an egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal.

We live in a changing landscape and we have to change. Otherwise I would still be wearing puffy shirts and stonewashed jeans.

On the new site, we are going to take a different approach to what we write about, what we share, and how it is presented. You can count on it being ten times as funny as IBD (10 x 0 still = 0; I’ve got mad math skills). If you feel so inclined, we’ve got a Media Platypus Facebook page ready for you to like, as well as a new Twitter handle, @MediaPlatpyus. The website will be www.MediaPlatypus.com (though there’s not much to see there yet). If you don’t want to follow this new venture, we understand and we’ll go back to crying ourselves to sleep each night.

It’s been fun, thanks for everything. We’ll see you on the Plat.

Missouri Compromise-Experience 1

Editors Note: This post along with my next two posts will revolve around three distinct interpretive experiences that my family and I had on a recent trip to Missouri. I tell you this so that if that you had already planned on not reading Thursday posts (as well as Monday posts) you now have a valid excuse.

Last week I had the honor of presenting an IBD workshop for employees of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) as well as other area interpreters in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I consider it an honor because of comments about my pants, I most likely won’t be invited back. My family was along for this trip, not for the presentation (in fact they didn’t want to hear me talk about anything besides pools and ice cream), but were there primarily due to the post-presentation weekend getaway to St. Louis.

On this mini-vacation, my family and I had three very distinct interpretive experiences at very different locations. It is not my goal to transform this blog into a “what I did on my summer vacation” blog or take away from our serious writing. But while visiting all three of these locations, I couldn’t stop thinking about sharing them with you and re-finding my family, who left me behind reading and photographing. My wife has accepted this compromise and has become aware that what used to be simply family fun is now IBD fodder.

The first location was the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, managed and operated by MDC (which also happened to be the site of the presentation). Several weeks back I wrote about another MDC facility in my post A Marriage of Sorts. This is the second MDC site that I have been to and my love of their work continues. Based on what I have seen from the MDC they excel at getting things right.

We all know that a nature center should be the base for getting folks into nature and not the experience itself. One of the most effective elements to the design of this nature center is how the layout replicated nature, kept you guessing, and was filled with surprises. Upon entry you are immediately drawn into the exhibit area. The asymmetrical flow allows you to wander as if in a natural environment off of the trail. There are many directions for you to go.

My children loved this and immediately split up, going towards whatever met their fancy. I split off in search of illicit uses of Papyrus. My wife split off in search of single men. William (my three year old) split off and we haven’t seen him since. The layout makes the exhibit area feel larger that what it actually is. Upon my second pass though the exhibits, this became more apparent to me. The flow also naturally pushes you towards the trailhead and into the conservation area.

Three exhibits really stood out to me as being interesting, unique, or providing an interesting design.

This beaver lodge and trapper cabin exhibit is an excellent way of providing an opportunity for something that otherwise would be impossible to see the inside of. The interactive panels inside the lodge are a great way of illustrating life in the lodge while you are in a lodge. You can’t visit this center and not climb through the lodge. The trapper cabin exhibit adjacent to the lodge effectively illustrates the relationship between humans, beavers, and settlement of the area. The exhibit is supplemented with artifacts and real items to add character as well as authenticity to the interpretation.

What can a typeface do for an exhibit? Besides annoy freaks like Paul and me. It can evoke a sense of time and place. That’s the case in this mercantile exhibit. I don’t know if a historian would say that this is really the typeface that was historically accurate for trading posts or stores in southeast Missouri at the turn of the century, but it works here at setting the stage for an era.

Who’s to say we know it all? Well, my wife for one, Paul talking about grammar for two, but that’s not the case here. Maybe visitors should do more interpretation. This simple but well-designed exhibit allows visitors to reflect and add their own touch to what is being interpreted.

Looking at the artwork reveals what kids take from their visit to the nature center. It is also amazing to see what my children can take from the gift shop while unsupervised. MDC, I’ll put a check in the mail.

Here are a few other observations.

There are other options besides Comic Sans.

Interpretation of the building itself is a great way to show visitors how seriously you take your mission and provides them with information about making green choices in their own homes or workplaces.

The best-designed non-personal interpretive products cannot compete with personal approaches, even if the interpreter is Jeremy Soucy.