Palm Vx and I

As I explained in my last post, working for, at, or near GM means lots of time attending meeting where ambitious people practice what they have correctly surmised is the key to getting ahead in big corporations; presentations.

Long, boring, pointless presentation that literally sucked the soul right out of me.  I remain soulless to this day, but to tell the truth, I don’t miss it much.  But I worried about my mind.  I like my mind, and even find the occasional use for it.

But there it was, slowly being eroded by the stupefying drone of self-important people.  Slack-jawed, near drooling, I desperately searched for the means to combat, and possibly reverse, the effects of endless PowerPoint Presentations.   I finally found it.

Sometime in the year 2000, I bought myself a Palm Vx.  For those interested, Wikipedia has the information as to specification, sizes, etc. (

For the purpose of this blog post one needs to know only the following.  The screen measured 160×160 in resolution, and you used a stylus to pick, draw, write, etc.  Another thing you need to know is about the program Doodle for the Palm.

Mind-saving doodle - self-portrait

The Doodle program had three different stylus shapes; round, square, and vertical line.  Each in turn had three sizes; small, medium, large.  And finally, ten different lines could be drawn, ranging from solid to a very sparse dot pattern, and finally white. Any one of the patterns could be set up as the background, and then you could go to town on it.

Mind-saving doodle - abstract pattern

The key to saving your mind is to find a corner of the meeting room where no one can sit or stand behind you.  You then take out your Palm Vx, pull the stylus, and start “writing” on it.

Once in a while you look up at the PowerPoint slide being discussed, and resist the temptation to flip the presenter off.  Instead, you look at the slide for a bit, and make it look like you are intent on what the speaker is saying, but all the while trying to keep your mind from being sucked into actually listening to what was said.  You then allow your face to strike a pensive pose, and return to the safety of your doodle.

Mind-saving doodle - the circle of infinity

For the most part I drew abstract, yet orderly, patterns.  Sometimes I would dabble in doodles based on geometric figures.

Often the doodles built onto each other.  I would start with something, get it to a point where I was happy with it, save it, invert it, and go about modifying it.

Other times I would just disengage my conscious directing of the stylus, and see what would come up.  Those are some of my most favorite doodles, for they give a glimpse into the mind that drives everything I do in life.

Mind-saving doodle - just move the stylus

They are a self-prepared Rorschach ink blot, only they looks more like drawings that do not resemble anything.

I take that to mean my mind is too vast, too deep, too complex to nail down with psycho-babble.

Conversely, it could mean I am an empty shell getting by on my looks and my ability to use my stuttering to elicit sympathy.

I kid about that last part; when I stutter most people mistake me for a babbling idiot incapable of stringing two sentences together.  In part, that is why I like the internet.  The written word comes easy for me, and while I still come across as a babbling fool, at least online I am an eloquent babbling fool.

Mind-saving doodle - Par 3 at Stoney Creek Golf Course

But it was not just random patterns that flowed through the stylus and onto the screen.

Understand, the canvas was limited, but I taught myself how to convey a fair amount of information in a very limited space.

Yes, I know; these are not going to win any prizes, but to me they still hold a certain fascination.  Eight years later I can examine them and marvel at the simplicity of the design while noticing all the complex elements that form the total.

Mind-saving doodle - inside a farmhouse

Mind you, I am not claiming expertise in graphic arts, drawing, or anything of the kind.  What I do claim is the ability to create doodle in a 160×160 canvas that I still find interesting years after the device itself stopped working.

Yes, sadly the Palm Vx stopped working a few years ago.  It would no longer recharge.  I kept it for a while just for the sentimental value, but eventually I disposed of it.

To this day I miss both the device and the doodling program that let me reach a Zen-like plane of existence where I was immune from forces intent on robbing me of my very humanity.

Mind-saving doodle - is my sole . . . err . . . soul in there?

In fact, the day after it was no longer within my power to retrieve the Palm Vx, I felt a deep sense of loss.  It was as if a part of me was no more.  Perhaps I had not actually lost my soul to GM meetings.

Perhaps it had been transferred to a little electronic device, stored there for safekeeping.  It’s gone now.

The Vx was replaced by a Palm Treo, and then a Palm Centro.  Both devices have Doodling programs on them.  Yes, I still have both of them, but it’s not the same.  Yes, they still use a stylus, but the old program did not work as well in these new devices.   New programs were coded to take advantage of the higher resolution and color-capable screen.

Mind-saving doodle - two-mast ship

You would think color screens and higher resolutions would be a bonus for the dedicated doodler.

But alas, the simple patterns of the original were not quite duplicated in the newer doodling programs, and no amount of color could make up for the loss.

While interesting, flashier, and with a larger scope of options, these advanced doodle programs did not provide the same trigger to unleashing my creative urges.  That ship had sailed, and took future doodles with it.

Mind-saving doodle - the lost vortex of opportunity

No more mindless patterns.  Be they simple or intricate, I could not duplicate what I had done, nor did new efforts measure up to past greatness.

It had been a perfect storm, unleashing creative forces the world will not only never see again, but may never appreciate to their fullest.

No one will ever know the full impact this simple confluence of technology and art had in saving my sanity . . .

Mind-saving doodle - the holiday cheer

. . . well, they will know now because I just wrote it in the previous paragraph, but were it not for that, no one would ever know.

By the way, one might notice these are a tad larger thasn 160×160.

They are, in fact, twice that.  I like the smaller size, as they are the original, but the larger doodles make it easier to see the strokes that produced them.

At the bottom of this post there is a link to a SmugMug gallery of all 408 of the surviving doodles.  

Mind-saving doodle - the ghoul of doodles past

Yes, I said those that survived.  Not all made it to posterity.  Some were lost in the upgrades, some were lost when disks they had been saved on became corrupt.  Some never made it out of the Palm Vx, and now rest trapped forever in some reclaimed pile of material.

There were so many, I cannot remember them all.   Their sacrifice will not be in vain, as I will strive to keep the mind they saved as sharp as possible . . . a task made all that more difficult by the absence of a decent doodle program.

Mind-saving doodle - Le Lumache

I own a Droid X now.  While a wonderful piece of technology, it does not have a stylus.  The interface is a finger.  Sounds organic, right? What could be purer than touching flesh to screen to direct a virtual stylus in the creation of new doodles?

I have small hands (no, it does not mean anything!!), but even I can’t see pass the finger to accurately direct the electronic stylus in the creation of new drawings.

I literally cannot see what I am drawing.

Mind-saving doodle - capturing Saturn

I know many of the larger pads have doodle programs on them . . . but no stylus.  The results are no better than a kid finger-painting on a wall.  One cannot nest intricate shapes,  accurately add a line between two existing lines, or achieve the kind of precision necessary to inspire the creation of new masterpieces.

I can’t even recreate the simple doodle on the right.  It requires painting between existing lines, it requires knowing exactly when to stop drawing so as to create the 3-D effect.  It requires a stylus, a Palm Vx, and Doodle for the Palm.

Mind-saving doodle - Chevy's HHR

This is a depiction of the Chevy HHR, the last big project Hartwick had with GM.  It was a pivotal project for us, mostly because when it was yanked right out from under us, we decided to close Hartwick.

This is one of the last doodles I made.  There were a few more uninspired attempts, but my heart was not in it.

I needed the monotonic drone of a would-be manager to turn on the spigot of creativity.

Mind-saving doodle - the time machine

As I said, I like these shapes and patterns; they were born out of self preservation.  I have tried to recreate them using existing programs, both on-line and as stand-alone on my PC, laptop, or Droid X.

There are definitively some interesting doodling programs out there, but as far as producing something like what I show here, there is little.

I did find a site that lets you draw and save interesting doodles.  Here is the link, and a sample I drew up just for this post.


It does not match what I could do with the original program, but it is interesting, and even fun to use . . . all I need now is someone to make a PowerPoint Presentation for me to work to.

Here is the link to all 408 Palm Vx doodles I have.  Some are duplicates, but since I lost so many I can’t bear myself to erase them. 

SmugMug Album – Palm Vx Doodles: 2000-2204

I was originally going to show a video, but it turned out about 20 minutes long . . . I can’t see anyone actually watching it all, so I deleted it from YouTube.  I doubt many will even go look at the gallery.  If they do they will notice another little piece of anal retentiveness . . . I’ve titled them all.

Here are a few more just to stir the appetite for more.  Melisa insists I could sell all these Doodles, for she finds them as interesting as I do.  But I know better . . . you need a name to go with the doodles so they can be called “art”.  Otherwise, they are just doodles.

Mind-saving doodle - mystic window
Mind-saving doodle – mystic window
Mind-saving doodle - cosmic scythe
Mind-saving doodle – cosmic scythe
Mind-saving doodle - the eye and the windmills
Mind-saving doodle – the eye and the windmills
Mind-saving doodle - home is where the house is
Mind-saving doodle – home is where the house is
Mind-saving doodles - the squeeze play
Mind-saving doodle – squeeze play
Mind-saving doodle - galactic worms
Mind-saving doodle – galactic worms
Mind-saving doodle - war of the worlds
Mind-saving doodle – war of the worlds
Mind-saving doodle - strange reception
Mind-saving doodle – strange reception
Mind-saving doodle - manage a trois
Mind-saving doodle – manage a trois
Mind-saving doodle- conception
Mind-saving doodle- Fancy Conception
Mind-saving doodle - cast snowflake
Mind-saving doodle – cast snowflake
Mind-saving doodle - the large intestine
Mind-saving doodle – the large intestine
Mind-saving doodle - insane jedi
Mind-saving doodle – insane jedi
Mind-saving doodle - tentacles of the deep
Mind-saving doodle – tentacles of the deep
Mind-saving doodle - no escape
Mind-saving doodle – no escape
Mind-saving doodle - there is no question
Mind-saving doodle – no questions
Mind-saving doodle - the road
Mind-saving doodle – the arduous road