Robert L. Peters

31 January 2010

Greetings from… Tapachula


Tapachula, Mexico

My older brother Jim (recently retired from a lifetime teaching career) is on an extended road-trip south to Panama (and back, we’re hoping!) with his brother-in-law Bob Banman. I’ve just received the first travel update by email and am re-posting it here, in Jim’s words, for the benefit of extended family and friends…

“We got stopped by the Mexican army today. They searched through all our stuff, then tried to convince us to sell them Bob’s big GPS. The soldiers sure wanted it, but we managed to leave without selling them the GPS or giving them any money, so that was good.

Tomorrow morning we try to cross the border into Guatemala; then we have only a short drive (140km) to Quetzaltenango.

We’re in Tapachula, Mexico right now. It was 97F here today (36C) and humid. We spent the evening sitting in the city plaza, eating supper and watching the people. They all come to the city plaza for the evening, all dressed up and ready to socialize. Bob and I stand out of the crowd because we’re gringos and so much bigger than everybody else.

Did lots of mountain driving today; good roads in Mexico! Will be in touch again soon…”

Pic is of “Diego and Pako, two little street merchants I paid 5 pesos each to let me take their pictures.”

30 January 2010

Plastic… and albatross chicks.





Midway Atoll (middle of the North Pacific)

Chris Jordan is a remarkable Seattle-based photographer/activist who uses his skills effectively to address challenging social issues and redress problems arising from our modern lifestyles. (I’ve often shown his thoughtful and impeccably crafted photographic interventions in talks I’ve given). Midway: Message from the Gyre is a stunning photographic essay that delivers an important message (about avoiding, reducing, or effectively recycling plastics) with uncommon punch—view the entire image collection here. Following is the accompanying text by Chris…

These photographs of albatross chicks were made in September, 2009, on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles (3200 kilometers) from the nearest continent.

Keep up the great work, Chris! (thanks to friend Gregor Brandt for the link)

28 January 2010

Urban ponderings…



Heartfelt expressions regarding peace and hope and change are powerful—no matter what corner of the earth or in which back alley you may find them.

Thanks to Belgian statistician, philosopher, writer, and human rights blogger extraordinaire Filip Spagnoli for these images/links.

27 January 2010

Lest we forget…


Auschwitz, Poland

It’s 65 years ago today since Soviet troops liberated the last of the living at the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp… at which an estimated 1.1 million human beings perished at the hands of the Nazis. This particular day (27 January) is now remembered worldwide as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Image: Starving Romani (aka Gypsy) children at Auschwitz

25 January 2010

Goodbye, my friend… goodbye.


Duncan, British Columbia

Betty called me yesterday, Louis… to tell me you were gone. She told me that you had passed on suddenly, and without pain. We cried together on the phone, she assured me that Chris and Vincent were there with her… and that they were all going to be OK. This evening I found your obituary online—and I’m still having a tough time believing you’ve actually left us.

I remember you well as one of my first design clients (thanks for your enabling trust!), and then working with you when you turned entrepreneur to launch your own fashion business. I remember going to your rally races (the fact that you drove a clunky Volvo was made up for by your driving prowess), the many years we went hunting together (some more successful and/or eventful than others—but an annual highlight nonetheless), the gourmet meals we shared (the fact you were an oenophile didn’t hurt), and the great times of fellowship and laughter. My most sustaining memory of you, however, will be your profound humanity… and the way you treated every person that you’d encounter with genuine interest and care. This world could use more of your ilk.

I’ll miss you my friend… rest in peace, Louis Denis Spronken.

R.I.P. Bob Noorda (1927-2010)




Milan, Italy

Internationally-known graphic designer Bob Noorda, who helped introduce a Modernist look to advertising and corporate logos in the 1960s (as well as the entire New York City subway system) died on January 11 at the age of 82 due to complications of head trauma suffered in a fall. For his contributions to the city of Milan, he has been given a sepulcher in the city’s historic cemetery, the Famedio del Cimitero Monumentale, where some of Milan’s most famous citizens are buried.

A master of spare, elegant, and logical designs that “caught the eye,” Dutch-born Noorda helped found Unimark International in 1965, teaming up with a group of American and European designers (including Massimo Vignelli), with initial offices in Chicago and Milan. An early proponent of unified branding—the consistent use of distinctive type and imagery to identify a company—Unimark has been credited with awakening the corporate world to Modernist design thinking.

The influence of Bob Noorda carries on…

Read the full Obit by Steven Heller in The New York Times, here.

(thanks for the link, Ronald)




24 January 2010

I miss my lung, Bob…



Winnipeg, Canada

These effective anti-smoking billboards are excellent examples of meme-usage in the design of visual communication. Although there is no direct reference to smoking or to the Marlboro cigarette brand, you understand the context of the message immediately, thanks to your meme-sensitivity; (images of cowboys riding under the open sky, in concert with the familiar typographic “voice” used in the centered headlines), conjure up the context.

What is a meme? A meme is an idea (or a behavior, style, symbol, or practice) that spreads from person to person within a culture—much like a virus does within a body. In this age of information and ideas, we are surrounded and saturated by memes…

23 January 2010

Sibylline signs…






Don’t say you weren’t warned! (original image sources unknown)

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Seen on a Swiss restaurant menu:

“Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.”

Time is… cyclical.


Recycled cycle… what goes around comes around—I like it.

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