Wednesday, September 16, 2009

business poetry: orientation, the first three days

    certain Powerpoints were caused to occur:
    Harvard -- the Merage of the East! (or so the dean says
    and he seems like he knows)


    I love the smell of new laptop
    endless parade of faculty and staff
    bursting with faith in us
    bonfires
    pizza
    beer and naps when we needed them most
    a ropes course when I needed it least
    sunburnsunburn hey, pain au chocolat sunburnsunburn
    so many boys in crisp blue shirts
    and iPhone cameras to document them
    anxieties trumped by good cheer and caffeine
    unlike USC film school, we are handed an alumni database, complete
    with pictures
    and telephone numbers


    !


    As I said: faith
    in us
    enough to move our local mountains
    but I may need a little more
    to make it through statistics
    yikes
    I am but a filmmaker
    with star stickers on her nametag
    and a head full of errands
    but
    I have finished reading our brick of a course reader
    just in time for tomorrow
    and I took lots of good notes in my best cursive
    because I am neurotic
    My group members strike me as reliable
    and quick
    and forgiving
    and we might not kill each other for a while yet.


    I have faith.

Monday, September 14, 2009

d-day, h-hour, o-orientation

    It's amazing how difficult it is to post when you have tons of reading, and projects to work on, and film screenings to attend, and fabulous people to hang out with. Yihal.

    But no matter: onward and upward to orientation, which starts this morning! I suspect this may be the last time this year that I will ever wear eyeshadow. In the meantime, I will try not to panic that my new, required laptop hasn't arrived yet; the entire admin has assured me that Neolithic-era notetaking equipment (paper, pen, absence of Twitter) will be perfectly A-OK for the next two weeks of orientation.

    Breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth.

    Bonus: free breakfast!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Pink Floydness of Tustin

    Is it just me, or does this Tustin blimp hangar look like a Pink Floyd album cover?

   

    True, it's in nearby Tustin and not Irvine, but I shall still claim it as part of my new stomping grounds. I believe the technical term for this structure is "wicked rad".

    That is all.

The Magic of Irbhinn

    Plagiarized from an email I just sent:
    I just learned from Wikipedia that William Wallace's fate was influenced by a temporary truce between the Scots and the English in -- wait for it -- Irvine, Scotland. According to Wikipedia, Irvine is from the Gaelic "Irbhinn", and folks like Robert Burns, Poe, Nobel, and Napoleon hung out there; Nobel even had a factory in town. And if you're a fan of Atlas Shrugged (which I am), there really was a John Galt, and he hung out in the original Irvine as well, plus his novel The Member has political corruption as its central theme, just like Atlas Shrugged. I don't know about you, but I find all of this fascinating. This is why Wikipedia is very, very dangerous for me. It's amazing that I ever get any work done.

    And I just had two Christian guys -- Jehovah's Witnesses? Mormons? I should've looked more closely at their nametags -- come to my door a couple of minutes ago. I'd always heard about such things happening, but I'd never had it happen to me! Isn't that crazy? I now feel complete as an American adult, somehow. I politely sent them on their way, rather than reducing them to fisticuffs; maybe I should have rock/paper/scissored them for their immortal souls.

    As for the Orange Curtain, let me know when you want to hit Little Saigon -- or if you want to go to the BCD Tofu House, which is down the street from me. Also down the street from me, but in the opposite direction, is Blizzard Entertainment, which always impresses the WoW fans. WHOO IRVINE. Or should I say WHOO IRBHINN? Nah, that would be idiotic. I'm sure glad I didn't say it, aren't you?

    Can you tell I'm desperately procrastinating doing my reading? :)


Saturday, September 5, 2009

your camera for a free lunch?

    Anybody have a DVX-100 and two lavalier mics I can borrow on Thursday? For free? Erik and I are putting together a website o' social media fun and need to shoot thirty seconds of ourselves blathering.

bringing BarCamp to Irvine?

    In the spirit of BarCamp, I'd like to set up a monthly PubCamp at the Anthill Pub & Grille on campus. I still need to email the general manager about the details, but he seemed open to hosting it. Any ideas for organizing and publicizing this?

getting down with my bad self in the UCI bookstore

    Did you know that the UCI bookstore prominently features authors who happen to be on the UCI faculty? I think that's the coolest ever -- also because most of the books look genuinely interesting. I've never seen a bookstore at UMichigan or USC do this, although this may also be because I have terrible eyesight. Still, it's great to see such campus pride, and a wealth of talent to back it up.

joys of bureaucracy

    I spent all day Thursday walking around the UC Irvine campus, trying to tie up loose bureaucratic ends. I discovered that the school has just negotiated a new insurance plan for grad students, so the insurance accountants at the health center are still trying to figure everything out, but my particular accountant was very helpful with processing my insurance waiver.

    This is something I'm starting to love about UC Irvine: not the sorting through of bureaucracy, but the helpfulness. Everyone has been incredibly straightforward, efficient, and encouraging. "Never fear!" they say when I tell them I am a new student and therefore clueless. "You've come to the right place, we'll get you all set up!" UMichigan wasn't nearly this cheerful, although they were still mostly helpful, and USC was...well, don't get me started.


    Go Anteaters!

Management of Complex Organizations -- In Bed

    I have a course reader for orientation which I need to read and annotate by the 14th. I'm a speedy reader, lucky me, but the packet is still intimidating -- it's half an inch thick, for goodness' sake! Dang.

    And for those of you who have lived in a cave and don't understand the "in bed" reference, it's simply a phrase you can add to end of your fortune cookie messages -- and now to your business literature, too! This MBA thing is gonna ROCK.

I must be deranged IV: packrat love

    I still have to clear up the mess in my new apartment. The big pieces of furniture are where they need to be (e.g. not on the ceiling, in a truck, in someone's else's living room, etc.), but I have entirely too many dishes to wash and put away. And I also have a ton of random crap (mannequin heads, candles, vases, bust of Chopin) which don't seem to belong anywhere just yet.

    I'm young, how did I get so much crap?

    My younger brother Jonah says that he views being a packrat as a genetic disease, one that we've inherited from our parents; like any other mental illness, we need to work every day at prevention, eliminating triggers for the behavior and so forth. I think he's on to something. I've grown pretty good at chiseling away methodically at my collection of crap, but I could be even more ruthless.

I must be deranged III: tea and Archie

    I finished our MBA personal pre-work a week ago, where we had to write about our accomplishments, take a Myers-Briggs test, etc. Turns out that I love novelty (shock!), but to the point where I hate having to stick with an idea and follow through with its daily maintenance. I'm fine at maintenance generally, but I just hate doing it. Bleh. Isn't this what assistants are for? If I had my choice, I'd simply brainstorm fun ideas all day, and then have minions do the nitty gritty for me as I drink iced mint tea on a veranda whilst reading Archie comics.

    I refuse to feel like a terrible person for saying this.

I must be deranged II: computer paralysis

    I've decided which computer to get (Dell Latitude E6400), out of all the ones recommended by the school, but there's still plenty of uncertainty about this. "You could get a better deal," one person tells me. "You need to get a Mac, not a Dell," someone else says. "Lenovo's awesome, but the shells shatter too easily," a third says. I think I need to go lie down, but I'm afraid I'll fall asleep and then the dreams will come back. Probably best to order the damn thing right now before the paralysis sets in.

I must be deranged I: the dreams

    And so, four years after starting this blog, I am returning to grad school, this time for my MBA at UC Irvine | Merage. The orientation starts Monday, Sept. 14, and we already have homework -- joy! I haven't had to do any homework since 2003, so I'm a tad apprehensive. I hope my brain isn't rusting.

    The new-school dreams have started again; you know, the ones where I come to campus and everyone knows exactly where to go and what to do, all except me. "Hey guys!" I call out. "Where do I go? What do I do?" People good-naturedly tell me small bits of information, but then rush off before finishing any sentences. "Help," I say. "I am sinking." And I am, right into the sidewalk. As the concrete closes over me, I find myself thinking that maybe I should've stuck with pre-med back in 1996.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Exploding phone? There's an app for that

It was the best of times:

Mobile phones get cyborg vision

And then, suddenly, it was the blurst of times:

Apple probes iPhone explosion reports: EU

Maybe I should just get a couple of tin cans and a piece of string.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not your parents' Fantastic Voyage





Robot Can Crawl Through Human Body


Once they figure out how to put a camera and transmitter on this thing, WOULD IT NOT MAKE THE AWESOMEST VIDEO GAME EVER?

And wouldn't it be furtherly awesome if you earned huge discounts on your health insurance for every minute you've spent playing with this?

Yes. Yes, it would.

brilliant...?

Kinda Bizarre Audience-Building Strategy: Come to My Apartment

Would I want 60 strangers in my apartment every week? Probably not -- but it would be a fantastic way to piggyback PR for a personal project. Will mull this over.

Feelin' like a cyberpunk Monday

"I've never really been very interested in computers themselves. I don't watch them; I watch how people behave around them. That's becoming more difficult to do because everything is 'around them'." - William Gibson, 2007
[John] Shirley convinced [William] Gibson to write a story for the television series Max Headroom for which Shirley had written several scripts, but the network canceled the series. - interview, 1994
"After witnessing the first 20 minutes of landmark cyberpunk film Blade Runner (1982) which was released when Gibson had written a third of the novel, he 'figured [Neuromancer] was sunk, done for. Everyone would assume I’d copped my visual texture from this astonishingly fine-looking film.' He re-wrote the first two-thirds of the book twelve times, feared losing the reader's attention and was convinced that he would be "permanently shamed" following its publication . . . ." - interview, 1986
". . . . in 2005, Time included it in their list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, opining that '[t]here is no way to overstate how radical [Neuromancer] was when it first appeared.'" - Wikipedia

Human circuitry?

IBM Scientists Build Computer Chips From DNA

This technology might still be in its infancy, but it's already suggesting to me the Maas-Neotek biosoft which William Gibson mentions in his novels Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Once computing materials are made of human tissue, what's to stop us from directly attaching DNA-based hardware (er, fleshware?) to ourselves, saving our memories to it and using it to augment our own strengths?


[William Gibson, 2008; groovy person, not actual inventor of DNA chips]

Which further reminds me: Gibson mentions saving our personalities (or 'constructs') to hardware so that we can continue 'living' -- or, at the very least, interacting with anyone who activates our constructs. Which makes me all sorts of nostalgic for Max Headroom:



According to the ever-infallible Wikipedia, Gibson wrote an episode of the TV series "Max Headroom", but the show was canceled before his contribution ever aired. Sigh. To see the pilot episode, check out the Google video. It has mediocre sound, but is still well worth viewing.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

double your pleasure, double your fun

First there was this:


The Twins from Brazil: Did Nazi doctor Mengele - the Angel of Death - cause twin surge in South American town?

And then there was this:


Doctors baffled by Indian village of over 200 sets of twins

It would be interesting if it turned out Mengele also visited India, although I doubt it. What creeps me out is that the Kodinji water supply might be contaminated -- but as long as the contamination simply provides twins and nothing injurious, I guess I'd be OK with that.

Weird, weird, weird.

UPDATE (HT pursuit agent):


Ghana: seeing double; Research has shown that West Africa has the highest rate of fraternal twinning in the world

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Feel the burn, bionic Grandma



A.R.M.S. - Adaptive Responsive Muscle Support

I found this by accident when, per someone's mention on Facebook, I searched for "Clever" brand underwear. Turns out that by "Clever" they really mean "Festive palettes for your weekend on Fire Island, but not necessarily as witty as the label would suggest."

A.R.M.S., however, strikes me as truly clever underwear. From the site: "A.R.M.S. is a collection of clever underwear that increases the user's muscle power after suffering a stroke, spasms etc." Great for Grandma, stupendous for athletes; the whole do-we-really-need-to-ban-certain-athletic-clothing debate is already rearing its ugly head, and I for one enjoy seeing fuel added to the fire. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing my mom bench-pressing an Escalade.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

G is for Gastroenteritis

This just absolutely slays me. I may perish from cute overload.

Sesame Street: Anderson Cooper Reports


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

candy cures your spine?

CNN: Same blue dye in M&Ms linked to reducing spine injury

No way. No way no way no WAY no way.

Awesome.

babies slightly more interesting than tv

NY Times: TV Reduces Adult-Child Conversations

The title pretty much says it all: turn off the tube, talk to your kid. Otherwise, you may end up with this situation....



Bauhaus / in the middle of our street

NY Times: Biggest-Ever Bauhaus Exhibition in Berlin



OhboyohboyOHBOY would I love to visit Berlin, and this would be the perfect example of a reason. True, part of me deeply resents the Bauhaus movement (hat tip to Tom Wolfe for giving me the words to express my loathing), but still, there is undeniably a certain zest to it which I can't resist at times.

random round-up

1) How dare they steal my name for an app? Oh, wait, maybe I should be flattered instead.

2) I've decided that my dream man would be John Foxx on the outside



and Victor Borge on the inside.



The results would probably freak out everyone else, but I would be a very happy lady.

3) Has anyone tried Prezi yet? It looks potentially nifty, but I don't need to do any PowerPoints for a while.

4) My father recently explained the Brompton cocktail to me, saying that it's pretty standard in England and that each hospital prides itself on its own special mixture. Here in the U.S., however, it's illegal and unthinkable to provide such comfort to your terminally ill patients.

Remind me to die in England, okay? Okay.

5) I'm typing this in a Coffee Bean, and this awesome song came on over the sound system. I inquired into the song's identity, and the gal behind the counter was kind enough to research it and tell me it is, in fact,

Happy Up Here / Röyksopp



How is it that I'm not officially a fan of Röyksopp, yet every time I hear a piece of music which makes me happy, more often than not it's Röyksopp? Am I really that perverse?

Speaking of music,

6) I've updated my playlist on YouTube. I'm mad that there's no Prince available, because I'd love to stick "Starfish and Coffee" in the lineup, but so it goes.

7) I nearly did a post about the following, then had a hunch somebody may have already beaten me to it, and sure enough, looky looky:

"Together for the first time..."



I was also going to say that "Henna Placenta" is Hannah Montana's evil stepsister, but really, wouldn't it be the other way around?

Okay, shutting up now.

twitter catch-up

Rory_Blyth: Going out is frustrating. I want witty, challenging, flirtatious banter, but mostly just find people who text with their mouths.

fireland: Yeah, swimming is good, but I still think the best full-body workout is grabbing someone's baby and running away.

onecreativenerd: I heard a porsche car alarm going off today in quarter notes (but in Eb not F), found myself singing Treadmill

mcgrory: Bilingual - or Bivisual?

jagwicK: in a job interview, when asked if you have any questions for them, don't say "If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?"

Truly, I love you all. Hooray for the stupendously awesome.

because bludgeons are so 12th-century

NY Times - No Doubts: Women Are Better Managers

I put off reading this for a while -- and put it off some more -- because articles about managing people tend to tire me out. Everyone has their words of advice, most of which seem impractical to me, and they all start blending into each other.

Carol Smith, however, thinks exactly like I do, therefore I adore her to bits. (Cue sheepish grin.) Like me, she prefers gender-balanced offices to environments which are mostly women or mostly men. Like me, she prefers to interview candidates over meals. Like me, she prefers to avoid setting long-term goals, since they can evaporate quickly and without warning, and instead go in whichever direction is working spectacularly already. Like me, she likes to be the boss without being bossy.

Hooray, Carol Smith! She's a lady after my own heart, and I someday hope to possess a fraction of her awesomeness (and an empire comparable in size to hers).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Philippe Starck, eat your heart out

InventorSpot: 10 New Designs Every Safe Hospital Should Have!



These students' designs are just incredible. Cabinets which are unlocked by a patient's RFID wrist tag? Mattresses which change color when accidentally pierced by hypodermic needles? Magnetic blood pressure cuffs?

Hospital gear can be useful AND gorgeous; I think it's a great sign when hospital design is so good that you might even consider having it in your own living room -- and you're not even ill. If only they offered more options in magenta + orange, or at least in a jaunty argyle....

Friday, July 24, 2009

read by the light of your own skin

LiveScience: Strange! Humans Glow in Visible Light



We give off photons. Which, if you have a sensitive-enough camera, can show what parts of you are glowing the most or least. Which, if enough studies are performed, could potentially indicate to you what parts of your body are having a rough time, healthwise. Which, depending on your imaging software and the quality of your display, could be a beautiful work of art on your living room wall. Which, depending on how often you update it and what sort of lesions you secretly have, could potentially be a damning piece of evidence to anyone who visits your home, especially if it's a full-body image.

"Thanks, a glass of wine would be wonderful. I love what you've done with this space and HOLY MONKEY TRUMPETS HOW LONG HAVE YOU HAD ATHLETE'S FOOT, RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, BELLYBUTTON LINT, AND HERPES?"

Don't you love how I jump to the best possible uses of technology?

TV shows like CSI:NY could have a field day with this, in much the same way they've already had a field day with DNA portraits.



Monday, July 20, 2009

Mindshare, BIL:PIL, batvision for the blind

In order:

Mindshare LA is a monthly event wherein a mixture of technology, design, and community is explored. Awesome guest speakers, good food, open bar, and an incredible range of fantastic attendees who can't wait to meet you. It's every third Thursday and sells out fast, so keep checking the ticket site! I attend this religiously.

BIL:PIL is a healthcare unconference, exploring the next phase of the medical field. It's a fascinating alternative to TEDMED, and the website does a far better job of explaining it than I ever could. I'm unofficially officially coordinating the A/V, since I am a Lady of the Lens.

Last, but definitely not least: PhysOrg.com - Sound imaging: Clever acoustics help blind people see the world So a blind person wears a video camera, which translates its view into an acoustic equivalent which provides an aural version of depth perception to the blind wearer. If this can evolve into a nearly 100% reliable way for blind people to be autonomous in otherwise crowded situations, this would be phenomenal. Question is, would blind people find this practical? How this supplements natural hearing ability is rather beyond me; I'm guessing it exaggerates the placement of sound to emphasize the person's position in their environment.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I just called / to say / I'm having a myocardial infarction

The progress of telemedicine (or remote diagnostics, potayto/potahto) marches ever onwards:

WSJ: EU Approves Device Monitor
From the article:
"Boston Scientific Corp. said it received European approval to introduce its Latitude remote-monitoring program for heart-failure devices and defibrillators across the continent in a move that could boost the adoption of its products there. The remote-monitoring system is already approved for use in the U.S. . . . Telemedicine allows doctors to monitor their patients without in-office appointments and to intervene early if they see problems. This has the potential to reduce hospital visits and length of stays, though no company has completed clinical studies on the effect."
I guess that if you're hanging out in, say, a Parisian nightclub, and you're wearing this device, and your heart suddenly goes a tad wobbly without any major mishap, and you're always hanging out in an area with terrific wireless connectivity, you too could receive a text message from your doctor saying, "Yo, lay off the hookers and E, ok?"

I'd be interested in speaking with anyone who's tried this out already in the U.S. How many false alarms do they get? How many undetected problems did they have which since became apparent?

I love that this is so relatively new that people haven't studied it yet. It's exciting, yet also mildly alarming.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Webcam Wellness

Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance

Leaving aside the ick factor of having your personal records implanted in you, I'm happy to see all the other projects this alliance is pursuing. I firmly believe it's only a matter of time before the majority of us (if not all) could enjoy health care through thin air -- our insulin levels, heart rates, etc. could all be monitored remotely by medical services, who could send paramedics if things suddenly go awry. It would be a great way to supplement visiting doctors via webcam:



This is handy for Brooklyn hipsters, but how great is it to have this kind of quality healthcare when you're in a part of the world with decent Web connectivity and understaffed hospitals? True, there's no beating an in-person consultation, and none of this would be worthwhile without access to medicine and emergency care, but it's a strong start.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Why am I hitting myself? Damn hackers.

Wired Magazine: The Next Hacking Frontier: Your Brain?

First things first:



Can you imagine having somebody hack your brain? What if people wanted to hijack your prosthetic limb so they could play a hi-tech version of "Stop Hitting Yourself"? Could they tweak your perceptions, giving you hallucinations? If you wanted to kill someone, could you drive them to suicide by yanking down their seratonin and dopamine? What if someone could hack your brain to make you think you're in love with them? Switch out your identity with somebody else's? Your mind could be wiped clean and controlled remotely, down to the words you say and moves you make. Welcome to the new zombie era.

On the plus side, you could hack your own brain to make yourself artificially happier. Maybe you could be a better dancer or kung fu fighter. Best of all, you could appear smarter than you really are, assuming your brain has WiFi and you can 'see' webpages without cluttering your field of view too much.

Here's what I want to know: what if you could connect your cyborg brain to somebody else's cyborg brain via WiFi? The two of you would be telepathic, right? It would be the ultimate IM experience! Also interesting: what if you could use your cyborg mind to hack other computer systems? You could change your grades or your criminal records just by thinking about them, assuming your brain's software and the server's software are compatible and your brain has the aforementioned WiFi.

I look forward to all of these issues cropping up in my lifetime. How will we harness this power for good, rather than evil?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Slay yon cancer with mighty video game

So, Re-Mission™ looks pretty badass. You kill purple things, which I presume are cancers. You learn a ton, have fun in the process, and can immediately apply your knowledge to your own real fight against cancer (which I hope you never get, or at least have battled into remission). From the site:
Results showed that a specially designed video game can have positive impact on health behaviors in young people with chronic illness. Specifically, playing Re-Mission improved treatment adherence and produced increases in self-efficacy, and cancer-related knowledge for adolescents and young adults with cancer.
I think that's fantastic. I used to volunteer in a pediatric oncology ward when I was in undergrad, and the kids were always desperate for fun ways to distract themselves; they all would have eaten up this game with a spoon, assuming the quality of gameplay isn't too shabby. This may have given each of them a greater sense of control over the disease, and armed each of them with correct information to help fight the good fight.

Also, you get to look like this:


I haven't played Re-Mission™ yet, although the visuals look immersive without being too scary. I think the purple helps.



Per their website, HopeLab has handed out over 142,000 copies of this to kids with cancer all over the world, free of charge. Here's the best part: it seems to work. I say 'seems to' because I do not have a subscription to Pediatrics, so I can't read the data that HopeLab published. I'm assuming it reads like a battle scene from Harry Potter, only with torpedoes and a side effect of healthiness.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What?

Seriously: media + technology + health = awesome. I can't think of a better way to put it.

I've been immersed in my family's biotech company since 2000. I've been an artist all my life, with a background in film production and graphic design. I am now about to start an MBA program, where I want to learn the business end of all these things mashed together. Media and biotech are unlikely-yet-perfect bedfellows, like bacon + caramel or Bing Crosby + David Bowie.

Or like Laurel & Hardy + The Gap Band:



"Egad!" I hear you say. "That sounds brilliant and fascinating, Astrid, plus Laurel and Hardy are totally hot. But what will you be doing, exactly?"

Good question. I'm in the process of figuring that out myself, but guess what I've already learned: media and biotech combine constantly. The convergence of the two can be anywhere -- examples might include video games which make you healthier, or medical diagnostic devices embedded in your clothes and furniture. Maybe one day we'll all have ultra-hi-def TV screens implanted in our eyeballs; our vision will be crazy-awesome, plus we'll be able to toggle between "The Daily Show" and eBay by sneezing. Hooray for the Future!

In all seriousness, this stuff fascinates me, and I'm always discovering more that's on the horizon. I hope to connect people creating media + biotech around the world, because this sounds like a handy way to surround myself with smart, creative people doing terrific things for humankind. Sure beats work, right?

Of course, the big question for me is figuring out what I can bring to all these wonderful media + biotech creators. Thus far, I'm interested in what I call 'the bookends': venture capital and marketing. I'm also interested in organizations which nurture cross-pollination, such as BIL and TED.

It'll be quite the adventure -- or so I'm hoping.



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

blind photographers!

Beautiful stuff, sent by my dad.

That Scott Adams is such a card

Did you see this Dilbert strip?

http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/2009-05-10/

I laughed uproariously, then got seriously depressed. Then laughed again. Then moped again. Thanks, Dad, for sending this to me and ruining my day.

On the plus side: garden car!

Monday, May 25, 2009

the magic of weekends

This has been an excellent weekend:

1 chocolate bread pudding
1 old movie involving glamorous people, jewel thievery, and France
1 new movie involving exploding spaceships and amusing accents
1 cemetery, beautiful at twilight
3 kids
5 dogs
30 new acquaintances (approx.)
an indeterminate amount of phenomenal potato salad

I also just discovered that an old friend of mine will be in town on Friday with his gal! I haven't seen him forever -- certainly not since he moved to Australia -- so this is officially fantastic.

To celebrate all of this cumulative awesomeness, I bring you two works of audiovisual magic:



I never went to the prom, but even I can tell you that this is officially The World's Best Prom Slow Dance/Necking Music of All Time. I mean, seriously -- how can anyone possibly resist all those shebop-shebops?




That John Foxx, back in 1983, was an exquisite man. Trouble is, I think he knew it -- but I'd still totally flirt with him based on cheekbone structure alone.

Side note: I just did some more noodling around online, and discovered that Foxx is an exquisite writer, too. His work reminds me of that of Ray Bradbury: the same sense of decay and dislocation, although with only an echo of Bradbury's longing.

I once met Bradbury a while ago on a film shoot. He'd recently had a stroke, but also had moments of lucidity and seemed perfectly happy to grant an interview. After we shot the segment (I was camera assisting) and packed everything away, I snatched a moment alone with Bradbury to tell him how much I loved his work and how deeply honored I was to have the chance to meet him. He was silent for a moment, slowly refocusing his eyes on me, only to grant me a gummy smile and a cheery "Hello!" I was utterly forlorn for weeks afterward. I'm not sure what I had been hoping for; how can you be Best Friends Forever with your idol when when he's old enough to be your grandfather? It's a bittersweet experience, finally meeting someone you've cherished like a lost love for years, only to realize you've met them too late.

As with Bradbury, I regret that I can't meet Foxx (or should I say Dennis Leigh?) in a parallel reality where we'd be the same age. Reminds me of the phase I went through a few years ago where I had a crush on a statue at the Huntington Library. I'm not goth, I'm gothic -- allow me my tender reveries. Shush.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

military robots, and the folks who love them

Real Soldiers Love Their Robot Brethren

The bit about Scooby-Doo slays me, and the skateboard idea is fascinatingly simple. I also find EATR intriguing, in a Skynet sort of way.

But where did insurgents get the idea that Lipton tea bags are drone magnets? And how does Lipton's marketing department feel about this? I can see the slogan now:

Teacups Versus Terrorism -- LIPTON Saves the Day!

::shakes head::

illegal aliens: an interesting juxtaposition

District 9 - Official Trailer

Guantanamo Detainee Suggests Moving Guantanamo Detainees to Ramada Inn

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Join me at Mindshare, May 21!

So, here's the latest email I've received from the madcap folks behind Mindshare:
We're excited to announce the program for next Thursday at 1018 Gallery!
http://www.mindshare.la/events.html

William Pomerantz / Senior Director of Space Projects, The X PRIZE Foundation
Winning Our Way to the Moon

Heather Knight / Roboticist, MIT Media Lab
Social Robotics - Exploring the Human-Robot Relationships

David de Rothschild / Founder, Adventure Ecology
The Plastiki - Rethinking Plastic as a Resource!

Daniel Yoder / Hacker, Zeraweb Labs
Flash Fundraising for The Abruzzo Earthquake

Unnamed Military Source / US Air Force
Apocalypse Survival (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Breakdown of Society)

Evonne Heyning & Matt Davis / Lightning Temple Artists
INTERACTIVATION: Collaborative Visions of Human Evolution

And of course there will be and open bar, hors d'ouevres, music and a number of installations on display from the great brains from Mindshare Labs!
I'll be there at 7 to help set up, who else is coming?

Monday, May 11, 2009

American Apparel is the new Hot Topic. Discuss.

Someone just told me about The Lab in Irvine. I checked out the site, wrote back to her, then decided to turn the message into an open letter here:
The Lab is interesting; it actually looks very Melrose to me, too, not just an OC thing. Funny how it calls itself an 'anti-mall,' when most malls I visit these days have an Urban Outfitters as well as other boutique-y shops similar to those at The Lab. It's unnerving how well clothing corporations have learned the formula for successfully co-opting pseudo-bohemian culture; American Apparel is the new Hot Topic! Extra smart (or insulting?) to have a gallery space like Artery in the middle of the complex to 'legitimize' the pseudo-bohemia of the whole thing!

On the plus side, at least it's a great venue for artists to show their work -- but who decides what work ends up on the walls?
Have you been to The Lab? If so, do you think I'm being harsh? Or reasonable?

kama sutra + water + judges = tandem surfing?

I had a coworker last year who persistently tried to recruit me as his tandem surfing partner. This is what tandem surfing looks like:



The guy recruiting me is about 6' or so, and I'm...well, I'm pocket-sized. Big surprise then that, in this guy's eyes, we were Destined For Tandem Success. He then showed me a chart of tandem poses, which made me giggle maniacally, since it reminded me of Cosmopolitan's illustrations of sex positions -- both of which feature very flexible silhouettes. I'm not going to link or post anything here, but you could easily Google "Cosmo" and "sex positions" and witness exactly what I mean.

Ultimately, I had to say no to this guy because

a) I have terrible balance and flexibility,
b) this looks like a great excuse for a guy to grope his partner,
c) I'm not an exhibitionist,
d) he was married, but
e) the marriage was failing, and
f) I refuse to spend lots of time with someone who might be using me as an emotional escape route.

If he had been single and less drama-ridden, I might've reconsidered; tandem surfing, when you get past the fact that it's vaguely unseemly, is truly magnificent to behold.

Signs that the MPAA Needs a Vacation

This was sent to me by my friend Chris Armogida:

MPAA suggests teachers videotape TVs instead of ripping DVDs. Seriously.

Anybody else feel like throwing tomatoes at these people?

I still prefer dancing about architecture

I was checking my email, and I saw a list of talks coming up at the Huntington Library. I was skimming through, minding my own business, when I hit this:

Kimberly Orcutt (New York Historical Society): “John Rogers: Interrogating Sculpture in 19th-Century America”

Interrogating sculpture? Really?


© Dr. Michael Phillips


I love when well-meaning, postmodern art historian types go a wee bit too far with their terminology.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

the fine line between creativity and being stark raving mad

Flavia sent me this charming Japanese YouTube video, and I love it to bits:

it's official: I know too many people

Today at noon, I had 1000 emails in my inbox, 84 of them unread. The earliest email dated back to 2002.

I had to do something.

Six hours later, I'm down to 368 emails, 31 unread. The earliest email dates to 2005. I feel better, but only slightly; names I'd forgotten have now regained urgency in my mind, and I'm back to feeling overwhelmed by all the wonderful people I've had to ignore in order to have a work life and a personal life.

More and more, Facebook makes sense to me; it's great for maintaining fabulous people in your life without having to write to each of them individually all day every day.

How do other people stay on top of all their correspondence without sacrificing work and life? I've heard of CEOs taking 'email vacations' in order to play catch up, only to be derided by other CEOs. How do those derisive CEOs do it? Do they hire assistants to answer all their email for them?

This is some handy advice from What's Best Next for zeroing-out your email inbox, but it's easier said than done:
1. Process the items in order
2. Process them one at a time
3. Never put anything back into your inbox
It goes on to explain setting up three email folders: Answer and Read for messages which would require more than two minutes to answer or read, and Hold for messages requiring you to wait on a third party to reply. Also, you're supposed to delete as much as possible (ideally everything, unless it's super-important and has to be saved on your computer for future reference). And you're supposed to never empty your email trash, but instead use it as an archive; GMail users can simply click "Archive" for messages. Once a day, you need to actually Answer and Read your longer emails and zero out those folders, too.

I'm going to try this, wish me luck....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Say hello sometime!

It's been a long time since I last checked who's been visiting my websites. Here are some of my astridica.com visitors since last June:

Adobe
Artisan Entertainment
Barton Myers Associates (architects)
Disney
Environmental Protection Agency
Faction Media (Colorado)
Fox Entertainment Group
Google (Berlin office)
Indiana University
Jan De Nul (Belgian shipping co.)
Kings County DA Office (NY)
Latrobe University
Loyola Marymount University
Microsoft
National Institutes of Health (probably because I've been in email contact with them)
NBC Universal
Olympus
Raytheon
Smart Design (but that's because we had a conference call around then)
Temple University
University of South Carolina

And here are some of my blog visitors:

Big Huge Games
Carnegie Mellon University
Columbia University
CSU Monterey Bay
Disney
East Texas Baptist University
Florida State University
Gensler (design firm)
Michigan State
Microsoft
North American Rescue
NYU
Ohio University
Penn State University
St. Olaf College
San Jose State University
SUNY Potsdam
UCLA
University of Louisville
University of Mississippi
University of Toronto
University of Western Australia
University of Wisconsin
UT Austin

I suspect I'm getting so many university people on my blog because I have several architecture pictures on it from Wikipedia -- by far my two most popular entries are about architecture -- so I suspect I get a lot of architecture students doing Google image searches and accidentally landing on my virtual front lawn.

But I digress....

Attention visitors from these esteemed institutions: I AM SO RIDICULOUSLY PSYCHED TO HAVE YOU VISITING MY SITE, YOU HAVE NO IDEA. Send me an email sometime, I'd love to meet you! I already got the chance to speak with the groovy folks at Smart Design and the NIH, but the rest of you are still on the hook.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Are you being skimmed?

Reader Finds Card Skimmer On Bank ATM

I've always been paranoid about ATMs, but I figured I'd be fine if I only visited bank ATMs instead of the sketchy-looking ones at the local 7-11. Silly, silly me! Just watch as I now wrestle with every stinking ATM I visit, convinced each one is out to skim my data. And then the security guards haul me away, thinking I'm trying to deface bank property. Gah.

I just can't win.

Envision World Peace: Marry A Terrorist

The Atlantic: All You Need Is Love / How The Terrorists Stopped Terrorism

My parents told me about this years ago, and then my dad sent me this article recently. I think the story is a hoot, and gets at the heart of the terrorism problem: give somebody a sense of worth, with everyday staples taken care of, and they'll stop blowing up airplanes &c.

Hooray for ingenuity!

Heartache leave: the best PR ever

Via Iconoculture:

"Japan-based Hime & Company gives its female employees under 24-years-old up to three days of “heartache leave” so they can take time to heal from a broken heart (Reuters.com 1.28.08)."

Is this brilliant? Or the dumbest thing ever? Why only three days? Why don't male employees get the same thing, when we all know that guys can easily be just as distraught over matters of the heart?

I actually think this is a publicity stunt to get buzz for Hime and Co., which (according to the Google translation of its website) is a "marketing company that provides products and services targeted to women (items Planning - Promotional PR)". Looks like they're brilliant at what they do.

how to get creatively unstuck?

TED Talks / Elizabeth Gilbert: A different way to think about creative genius

Are we geniuses? Or does genius speak through us? Is belief in a muse just an easy way to shed accountability, or necessary for not suffering a nervous breakdown? I'm not sure about any of these things, but I do know that Gilbert is a terrific speaker, and I highly recommend watching this 18-minute talk. I especially recommend it if you're feeling creatively stuck.

gorgeous poster art

I found this totally by accident, and now I'm half in love, half eating my heart out that I'll never be this stupendous an artist.

ISO50


Oh boy! Jury duty!

First things first: Mr. T just had jury duty as well!

Next things next: Last week, through this past Monday, I had jury duty on an attempted murder case. I was only a juror alternate, which meant I couldn't sit in the room with the deliberating jury, but I agreed with their verdict of Not Guilty -- there simply wasn't enough evidence. Crazy thing? The verdict was decided in TWENTY MINUTES. Now, that's what I call efficient. Crazy, but efficient.

To quote from an email I just sent about this: I learned a lot about

- LA gangs (I won't mention any in particular, because I don't want to get shot)

- LA gang graffiti ("NELA" = "Northeast LA", for example. It's also popular to spray your "E"s as backward "3"s)

- LA gang clothing (if you see young guys in LA wearing sports jerseys with T logos on them, be they for the Texas Rangers or other, walk away VERY QUICKLY)

- GSR tests (GSR = Gun Shot Residue. Apparently the test is BS once a person washes their hands.)

Also, when a threatening, gang-type person asks you "Where you from?", they really mean "What's your gang?" and will most likely shoot you if you give a wrong answer.

Ha ha! Isn't Los Angeles exciting and dynamic?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mindshare LA: 16 April 2009

It was in a warehouse, downtown, after dark.

I got there early and helped set up chairs.

Hundreds of chairs -- dusty but light.

Open bar. Two giant snakes inside the bar's counter. I asked for a club soda "with a wedge of something." I got a cup full of various citrus wedges and fizz. Joy! On a side table: chocolate torte from Porto's. Also joy!

I had a new phone message from a job rep. She offered me a job as a brand licensing manager for NBC Universal. The following morning, I will politely decline.

Met people. Many, many people. Programmers, astrophysicists, pre-med people. Media people. JPL people. CalTech people. People whose jobs I couldn't quite figure out, but they seemed to be having gobs of fun anyway. They all liked my earrings. I'd already forgotten which ones I was wearing. I touched them; mother-of-pearl toucans, each of which took up half of each ear. Go toucans!

Time to sit down. I sat with my new CalTech posse.

First speaker discussed group dynamics. Should have been a half-hour longer, at least.

Second speaker discussed drag queens and the fluidity of personality. I wonder how this could be extended to other, non-drag groups?

Third speaker discussed the AlloSphere. I desperately need to test drive this thing.

Intermission. More fizz with wedges of things. Hello, snakes! But they were sleeping. They looked comfy.

Fourth speaker discussed DNA art. So cheap to make, so expensive to buy! I wish I had his brilliance.

Fifth speaker did terrific magic, with very bitter patter. I guess bitterness was his thing. It was on the knife edge between hilarious and depressing.

More talking. CalTech people surprised that I did not, in fact, attend CalTech. Business cards, bonding, drag queens, AlloSphere. Discussion of potential field trip to the AlloSphere. Discussion of the term "field trip." I asserted that field trips do not necessarily require chaperones. Everyone looked relieved.

12:30pm. Back to the car. No ticket, whoo! Chilly out, but I was A-OK. I was wearing my sassy red coat which makes fascinating people say "hello" to me.

I slept well.

film people wisdom

So, I went to the UMEC Film Industry panel a couple of nights ago. Everyone on the panel went to UMichigan, or was at least from the state of Michigan. Go blue, fellow Wolverines! Below are my notes from the evening.

***

Scott Aversano: my personal favorite. I'm always a sucker for people with brains, wackiness, and optimism, plus at one point in his life he was pursuing a PhD in English. Total coolness.

What he said:
Orthodoxies of job paths no longer exist, find your own way.

"I feel like I can invent my job tomorrow." Seems by far the most optimistic of everyone on the panel about current opportunities for getting your creative voice heard today, also has faith that most people in the industry negotiate in such a way as to preserve constructive, mutually beneficial relationships. Bob Shaye pounced on this (see Bob Shaye, below).

"Bidding wars are where personal relationships go to die."

On State of Play: "We were negotiating in dollars, they were negotiating in pounds." Tried to get the rights to the show before WB did, only to have Universal scoop them after the wrong-denomination debacle.

***

Peter Benedek: sounds like he's seen it all and has maintained steady nerves/equilibrium nonetheless. Vaguely reminds me of my orthodontist.

What he said:
started a boutique talent agency back when such an approach could still work. Business too global now to try.

Start working in the mail room, it really works.

***

Jon Glickman: surprisingly low-key for such a sleek-looking exec, maybe it's because he's from the Midwest. Looks sort of like my brother. Only guy on the dais not wearing glasses.

What he said:
accost people in elevators, CONSTANTLY pitch.

The guys who pitched Shanghai Noon had never had a successful pitch before. Since this was their first, they only received $98,000 or so. "Then they landed a TV show called 'Smallville' and became zillionaires and now they've lost my phone number!"

***

Adam Herz: sweet writer-type; doesn't look like the sort of guy who could invent American Pie, which makes the truth so much more magnificent. Appears untouched by stereotypical Hollywood ugliness, surprisingly non-cynical.

What he said:
passion really does matter. Selling out first not necessarily so terrible -- can fund passion projects later. Had not realized that the landscape of the film industry is currently so dire.

***

Rick Olshansky: quieter guy. I get the sense he's never held a camera in his life, but probably has attended more meetings than you can shake a stick at.

What he said:
when trying to get work in the industry, just plug yourself in (as a temp, PA, etc.); when you're around the business, you get absorbed into it.

***

David Paymer: instantly recognizable. Seems to be on the quieter side of really warm/easygoing.

What he said:
always have something to fall back on. Double-majored in theatre and psychology. Currently acts AND directs. "Like I said, always have something to fall back on!"

Mentioned precipitous drop in actor salaries. Always asks for his mid-1990s salary; "after the laughter dies down, we negotiate." Salary roughly half what it used to be.

***

Bob Shaye: looks like he's spent his whole life in the sun, taming wild horses with his bare hands. Rather grim about the topics discussed.

What he said:
very cynical about film-industry ethics. When Aversano talked about good relationships being at the core of negotiating, Shaye delivered a very cynical smackdown, said this has NEVER been his experience.

Don't insist on salaries, don't negotiate, just get your foot in the door.

Movies just being movies apparently no longer enough; Village Roadshow is extending the theatrical experience to be more like a dinner show.

"How much time are you going to spend in front of a TV or computer? Instead of watching your life, go live it. . . . There's going to be a humanity rebellion of some sort." Lots of laughter and applause at this one, both in the audience and on the dais.

***

All in all, not a bad evening. Next time I hope to see some female panelists, though. Some arm wrestling over The Future of Cinema might not be so bad, either.

Monday, April 6, 2009

the growing pains of Omegle

Visit Omegle, and give it a spin. I'll wait here.

So, let me guess: you spoke with a Brazilian. A 19-year-old Brazilian. Or maybe even a 14-year-old Brazilian. Despite the fact that Omegle is not a Brazilian site (to the best of my knowledge), I definitely felt like the foreigner when I visited it. The OLD FART foreigner.

This site has some amazing potential -- I love the simplicity of the experience, and it's easily addictive. However: I have zero interest in speaking with anyone who isn't a grown-up, regardless of nationality. If I have one more conversation with someone who says "r u" instead of "are you," I will scream. If I have one more conversation about somebody's upcoming math test, I will scream. If I have one more conversation with someone who doesn't know yet what they're majoring in, I will scream.

I'll revisit Omegle in a week or so, and see if it's grown up at all. These things tend to improve exponentially -- if I wait a whole month to log back in, my parents will probably be on by then.

high-tech animation of Red Riding Hood

I recommend watching this in as large a size as possible, since there's a lot of text. This animation approach doesn't add much to the story, IMHO, but it's a fascinating exercise nonetheless, plus a little Röyksopp is always welcome.


Slagsmålsklubben - Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.

now your breadmeat shines with deliciousness

Squeez Bacon®!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

keeping my dignity, and my Shirley Temple

Why Do Mocktails Fall Flat?, Eric Felten, Wall Street Journal, April 3 2009

I found this a pretty interesting article, and was totally along for the ride, until I read this sentence:
The only faux-cocktail . . . that has survived into modern times is the grenadine-tinted ginger ale concoction, the Shirley Temple. But it survives only as a treat for the kiddies, not a drink that any self-respecting adult, no matter how abstemious, would think to order.
Go play in traffic, Mr. Felten. I consider myself a dignified (if irreverent) person, and I enjoy a Shirley Temple every now and then. Granted, they are ridiculously sweet, even for me, which is why I often follow Felten's example and get seltzer instead (hooray, slice of lime!), but still. I am peeved, on principle.

I am especially peeved because over the past few months I've discovered the joys of certain Belgian beers (Leffe Blonde, Bavik) and German ones (Erdinger Hefe-Weiss), as well as pinot noir (Castle Rock, pick a year and version), but for the longest time I was a borderline teetotaler. I was not a teetotaler because I thought Alcohol Is The Devil's Beverage, but simply because I couldn't find an alcoholic beverage which appealed to my taste buds. I was always very up front about this with people, and equally A-OK with being in otherwise liquor-soaked situations, and I thought all was fine. That is, until I spoke recently with friends of mine about my beer/pinot discoveries, and they all said the same thing:

"Nice to see you finally yanked that stick out of your ass."

Not that they necessarily used those words, but that's pretty much the sentiment I've heard, over and over again, throughout the past few weeks. My question is, what stick? I've never made withering comments to anyone imbibing, so where is this coming from? Does the simple act of not drinking make nearby drinkers feel guilty, and the resentment grows from there? Did all my friends insist upon interpreting my Shirley Temple-ish and seltzer-ish ways as a sign of my non-existent snobbishness and superiority?

Do I hang out with self-hating folks who enjoy misinterpreting me?

Am I over-analyzing this?

I'm hereby snatching back my Shirley Temple and enjoying the hell out of it. Screw you all, it matches my cell phone and makes me happy.

Software License Agreement -- The Ninja Translation

Software License Agreement -- The Ninja Translation

[This is my line-by-line translation of an actual software license agreement from a giant computer corporation with a cult following. I may have had a ridiculous amount of caffeine before tackling this.]

Read this so that we, Yuppie Entertainment Corporate Holdings (NASDAQ: YECH), can successfully sue you, and you can't successfully sue us. By reading the rest of this, you are agreeing with the previous ("first") sentence. If you disagree with the first sentence, use somebody else's software, dumbass. On the plus side, if you disagree with the first sentence, you can return this software to wherever you bought it and we'll give you a refund. If you were dumb enough to get this online, click "Disagree/Decline" and go play in traffic. If you got this as part of a package including hardware, you'll have to drag everything (yes, EVERYTHING, heavy hardware and all) to wherever you bought it in order to get your lousy refund; we're counting on the fact you're too lazy to bother doing any of this.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You can use this program to copy stuff. Just copy stuff for which we can't sue you, which means you can't copy anything except for that crappy post-punk garbage you recorded with your sorry-ass 'band' last week. We'll let you use this software to listen to music on other people's computers/servers. Don't use your access of copyrighted music in a way which will make us want to sue you. If you're not sure what would make us sue you, call a lawyer; if you can't afford a lawyer, we guess you could always try Legal Aid, but they're too busy helping people with real problems.

1. General. Everything in this software is ours, not yours; if you're not sure what's yours, assume it's ours. There are chunks of this software which isn't ours, but we're not going to tell you which parts -- let's just say that we know it's not ours, but we have permission to use it anyway and we know it's definitely not yours. You own the disk and/or hard drive on which the software is sitting, but that's about it. All of this applies to any updates we toss your way, unless the update comes with a different set of rules which we could use to sue you.

2. Permitted License Uses and Restrictions. Kiss our fat, hairy butts for allowing you to use this precious software. You can use this program to copy stuff; just copy stuff for which we can't sue you, which is practically nothing except for the aforementioned post-punk garbage you're still convinced will make you a star on YouTube. Don't let anyone else have access to this software from their own computer, or we'll sue you. You can make only one copy for yourself, in case this software dies an unholy death in the middle of your favorite Daily Show webisode; your one other copy must include all this legal crap as well. If you mess with this software in any way whatsoever, we will send ninjas to maim you and have it look like an accident. DON'T USE THIS SOFTWARE TO LAUNCH BOMBS, NAVIGATE PLANES, MAINTAIN PEOPLE ON LIFE SUPPORT, OR DO ANYTHING ELSE STOOPID WHICH WILL DRAG US INTO SENATE HEARINGS AND POSSIBLY LAND YOU AN HONORABLE MENTION IN THE DARWIN AWARDS.

3. Transfer. Don't earn any money on this software. You can pawn it off on somebody else if you're getting a new version, but you're only allowed to do this if a) you hand over everything with no missing parts, b) you don't secretly keep a copy for yourself, say on a jump drive which may or may not be adorned with Hello Kitty decals, and c) the person to whom you're handing this software is actually irritating enough to read all of this and agree to it like the anal-retentive jerk that they are.

4. Consent to Use of Data. We're allowed to collect information about you, which we'll sometimes use to improve our software, but mostly we'll use it to spy on you and find excuses to sue you. We're allowed to do this, as long as we can't use it to identify your name or where you live; of course, we're required to say this, but we all know it's B.S. and Homeland Security could totally make us revoke this 'respect for privacy' thing -- God bless America!

5. Online Store and Other Services. You can use this to buy stuff in our online store. You'll still need Internet access, idiot -- plus, you'll have to agree to even more legal crap before you can start looking at stuff.

When you use this along with a store account, you're agreeing to the latest store legal crap sight unseen; you can access and review this crap on the store home page, but we all know you won't.

By using our services, you'll probably find entertainment which would give your Catholic grandmother a coronary; or, if you're not Catholic, your neighbor's Catholic grandmother may have the coronary instead. This is not our problem. Descriptions of entertainment may be inaccurately worded in order to get you to download stuff it turns out you didn't want after all, but you'll still have to pay for it anyway.

Our services may include stuff not made by us. Some of it will be crap you'll hate, but that's not our problem. That stuff has nothing to do with us, so don't even try suing us over it. We'll give you links to things, but follow them at your own peril. Don't do anything with other people's crap through our site which would make them sue you; if you get in trouble, don't look at us.

Our services include colors and sounds which we own or are licensing, and you can't do anything with these colors and sounds except look at them and listen to them. Don't copy anything, not even a part of something. Don't make money off the colors or sounds, and don't hack into our network and/or shut it down, or else beware the ninjas -- they're nasty little suckers.

We (and the people whose stuff we're licensing) reserve the right to change any of this crap when you're not looking. You won't ever be able to sue us over this. We can also limit your access to our services anytime we like for no apparent reason, because we're evil and you're too busy suckling at our gorged teat of trendy 'new media' -- BOW TO YOUR CORPORATE OVERLORDS, WHOO.

6. Termination. These rules are rules until we decide they're no longer rules. If you break any of these rules, we can rip your rights away from you without warning. If/when these rules are no longer rules, you'll stop using the software and destroy all your copies, because you are a lazy, stupid robot and will do everything we tell you to do because you are addicted to our pretty sounds and colors.

7. Warranty on Media. For ninety (90) days after you buy this, we're pretty sure this software will be okay, as long as you don't overuse it or drop your MP3 player in the toilet like last time -- how the hell did that happen, anyway? If you don't consider our software/services 'okay,' we'll give you a refund, but only if you bring your software back to wherever you purchased it and actually remember to bring your receipt, which no one ever does. THIS IS ONLY TRUE FOR THE FIRST NINETY (90) DAYS AFTER YOU BOUGHT THIS. SOME STATES MIGHT LET THIS WARRANTY LAST LONGER THAN NINETY (90) DAYS, SO CALL YOUR LOCAL CONGRESSPERSON AND SEE WHAT THEY SAY; THEY'LL PROBABLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, SINCE MOST CONGRESSPEOPLE DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT A "PDF" IS, SO DON'T SAY WE DIDN'T WARN YOU. IF THERE ARE NO OTHER WARRANTIES THAT YOU KNOW OF WHICH MIGHT APPLY TO YOU RIGHT NOW, THIS IS IT. APPARENTLY, THIS GIVES YOU CERTAIN RIGHTS, BUT WE'RE SURE AS HELL NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT THEY ARE.

8. Disclaimer of Warranties. YOU AGREE THAT IF OUR SOFTWARE BLOWS CHUNKS, YOU'LL SUCK IT UP. OTHER THAN THE WARRANTY B.S. WE MENTIONED ABOVE, WE DON'T OWE YOU ANYTHING ELSE, SO DON'T EVEN TRY SUING US. IF YOU DON'T ENJOY OUR SOFTWARE OR SERVICES, IF OUR SOFTWARE/SERVICES DON'T DO WHAT YOU NEED THEM TO DO, IF THERE ARE ANY GLITCHES IN OUR SOFTWARE/SERVICES, AND/OR IF WE DON'T FIX THOSE GLITCHES, THEN: HA HA, SUCKS TO BE YOU. IF ANYTHING IS DEFECTIVE, YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THE REPAIR -- ALL OF IT. THEN AGAIN, YOU MIGHT LIVE IN AN AREA WHERE WE MIGHT HAVE TO MAN UP AND TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY AFTER ALL, LET'S HOPE THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

9. Limitation of Liability. UNLESS A LAWYER MAKES US DO OTHERWISE, WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY IN CASE USING OUR SOFTWARE/SERVICES HURTS YOU, HURTS SOMEONE ELSE, HURTS PROPERTY, HURTS PROFIT, HURTS DATA, HURTS ANYTHING, SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU'RE A DUMBASS WHO COULDN'T USE OUR PRODUCT(S) PROPERLY. THEN AGAIN, YOU MIGHT LIVE IN AN AREA WHERE WE MIGHT HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AFTER ALL, WHATEVER. No matter what, we'll never give you more than fifty bucks ($50) to make it up to you, unless the law makes us do otherwise. Even if the $50 isn't enough to cover your trainwreck of an existence, so it goes.

10. Export Control. You can't send copies of the software out of the country, unless federal law says otherwise for some strange reason. You definitely can't send a copy to a) Cuba or any other embargoed country, or b) to anyone the Treasury Dept. or Dept. of Commerce doesn't like, since chances are we can't sue any of those people. If you use this software it had better be because you're not in an embargoed country or hated by the Feds. And if you use this software to make weapons, we'll definitely send our ninjas after you, which will make the CIA look like a bunch of pansy asses.

11. Government End Users. The software is 'commercial,' according to your bureaucratic, law-type crap. Also according to this bureaucratic, law-type crap, this software is only being licensed to you as a) a commercial item, and b) having the rules apply which you hopefully already know about, lest you get caught using this software in a non-legitimate way and get dragged into a media circus which labels you as a fraud and destroys your pitiful, underpaid career. Again, God bless America.

12. Controlling Law and Severability. You'd better be using this in California, using California laws, on a California computer, eating a California roll, listening to "California Dreamin'." If the United Nations says otherwise, tell them to go rub a monkey's tummy with their heads. If any part of these rules turns out to be unenforceable by suing or ninjas, the rest of the rules are still in effect -- sorry to disappoint.

13. Complete Agreement; Governing Language. These rules are the rules to listen to, so ignore any rules we posted earlier and which you probably didn't read, either -- unless you also consider the rules about our store, which are always important and ninja-worthy. If we change any rules, the changes will be worthless unless you see them in writing and signed by us, which is what our lawyers told us to say. Any translation of this license (not counting the ninja translation you're currently reading) is to make your local bureaucrats happy, and if there are any misunderstandings because of translation, the English version will trump all others; rest assured you will lose all your money in any and all court proceedings against us on grounds of language, even if you found a version of this license in Pig Latin which really 'speaks to you.'

14. Third Party Software and Service Terms and Conditions.
A. Third Party Terms of Use.
Our software involves a third party, hooray for us. Cool thing is, this third party software allows our software to do handy things. Please do not use third party software as a flotation device.

Don't use third party software for anything which might make you money. Don't hand third party software to someone else. YOU AGREE NOT TO USE THIRD PARTY SOFTWARE DATA TO FLOSS YOUR TEETH OR DO OTHER RIDICULOUS THINGS FOR WHICH THIRD PARTY SOFTWARE WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE USED, DIPWAD.

If you break these rules, no third party software for you. Really: no third party software for you. The third party owns everything third party. If you give any information to the third party, and for some weird reason expect to get paid for it, you'll be sorely disappointed. The third party will send ninjas after you if you piss them off.

The third party spies on you. However, it does it by assigning a number to you so it doesn't know your name, but it still totally knows how old you were when you lost your virginity. If you're worried about having the third party know your most intimate details, check out the third party's privacy policy and then drown your pain in narcotics.

Appreciate the glitches in the third party's software for making the third party software the unique little snowflake we know it to be. If you don't, kiss our aforementioned hairy butts. The third party is free to change or delete information on their database without telling you. The third party promises nothing. The third party may do whatever it likes, which may include invading Poland or cheating on you with your best friend.

The third party is too awesome to worry about warranties -- "Fuck warranties" is a popular phrase around Third Party Central. If you don't have a good time with the third party's software, that's your problem. If anyone or anything is broken or killed because of the third party's software, that's also your problem.

B. Fourth Party Service Terms and Conditions.
Terms of Service.
If you're dumb enough to use the fourth party's software, the following rules will screw you over:

Fifth party Links. Search results and links you find via the fourth party (owned by a fifth party) are not the fault of the fourth party, so don't sue us if they piss you off. Really: try suing us over somebody else's site which you found through us, and our lawyers will laugh at you -- and then blow their noses with your subpoena.

Personal Use Only. Don't make money using the fourth party's software. Really -- don't even use it to increase traffic to your AdSensed blog. No fair taking our search results and repackaging them on your own website; actually, just don't mess with our data at all, or we'll borrow the first party's ninjas and you'll never see your toes again.

Well, scratch that -- if you want to make money using the fourth party, email Sales and be prepared to fork over several gold bars, your left arm, and the soul of your firstborn. Maybe also your toes.

Changes in Terms and Conditions and Fourth Party Service. The fifth party can change its services or even entirely yank them out from under you without any warning whatsoever, which it likes to do from time to time out of sheer boredom. The fifth party can also change its terms of service without warning, which again it might do because it is BORED BEYOND BELIEF and also enjoys hearing millions of upset computer geeks crying out as one, only to be suddenly silenced.

Disclaimer of Warranties. If the fourth party's software screws up, the fifth party is not responsible. If anything goes wrong, in fact, the fifth party will never be responsible. The fifth party is Teflon and you are nothing, you miserable peon fourth-party user-type idiot person.

THE FOURTH PARTY HAS NO USE FOR WARRANTIES, NOT UNLIKE THE THIRD PARTY. NO WARRANTIES WHATSOEVER. THE FIFTH PARTY HAS NO USE FOR WARRANTIES, EITHER. HONEST TO BETSY.

IF YOU USE THE FOURTH PARTY SOFTWARE, AND MESS THINGS UP ROYALLY, DON'T SAY WE DIDN'T WARN YOU, PLUS IT WON'T BE OUR FAULT AT ALL.

THEN AGAIN, YOU MIGHT NEED TO DISCUSS THIS WITH YOUR CONGRESSPERSON.

Limitation of Liability. IF YOU SCREW UP, THE FIFTH PARTY OWES YOU NOTHING -- ZIP, ZERO, NADA. EVEN IF THE SCREW-UP IS CLEARLY OURS, YOU'LL STILL SEE NO MONEY FROM US AT ALL, BECAUSE YOU SUCK DONKEY BALLS. IF THERE'S A SCREW-UP ON THE PART OF A SITE TO WHICH YOU GAINED ACCESS VIA THE FOURTH PARTY, IT'S STILL TOTALLY NOT OUR PROBLEM. REALLY, IF YOU LOSE DATA OR MONEY OR YOUR CHILDREN BECAUSE OF THE FIFTH PARTY OR THE FOURTH PARTY, IT'S ALL YOU, PAL. WE'RE TERRIBLY SORRY. OKAY, NOT REALLY.

OF COURSE, YOU MIGHT NEED TO DISCUSS THIS WITH YOUR CONGRESSPERSON.

If the fourth party's software doesn't perform well because of Internet failures, equipment failures, power failures, strikes, labor disputes, riots, insurrections, civil disturbances, shortage of labor or materials, fires, floods, storms, explosions, acts of God(s), war, governmental actions, orders of domestic or foreign courts or tribunals, or loss of or fluctuations in heat, light, or air conditioning, then the fifth party officially wants you to go whistle Dixie; practically everything in this paragraph is in actual software license agreements, go see if you don't believe it.

Miscellaneous Provisions. These terms of service are dictated by whatever frustrated and resentful California bureaucrats decided on your behalf. If any of these rules are deemed unenforceable, the rest of the rules still apply -- HA HA IN YOUR FACE YO.

All of these rules replace any previous rules you wasted your time reading (or not) the last time you downloaded any of this crap. The only time these rules won't hold is if the fifth party puts the waiver in writing and signs it, which only would happen over the fifth party's cold, dead, corporate body.

Now click "Agree" like the obedient little dimwit monkey you know you are.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

CML / Perrault: What's next for cameras?

CML is a fantastic resource, and I subscribe to a bunch of lists within it including "Cameras in development and what we would like to see." David Perrault CSC recently wrote this post to the list, and I think he's brilliant:
Subject: what's next?
From: David Perrault
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 2009 13:01:09 -0400
X-Message-Number: 7

> ,,,,,Anyway, I'd be curious as to what everyone else wants to see in
> future cameras.,,,,,

More colour information. More resolution. More dynamic range.

Those *should* be the targets but compression, storage and marketing seem to push the agenda towards using resolution numbers to impress.

A move towards 35mm sized sensors seems like an obvious move - it certainly answers an aesthetic problem that is an issue with 2/3-inch cameras.

Exposure index: how fast is fast enough? If the still camera market is any indication there should be improvements here. Imagine working with a camera that had an EI of 3200 with a workable noise floor!

And how about being able to manipulate a camera set-up with a laptop and a more GUI interface? Over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth?

It would also be nice to have a bit more control over characteristics that are currently linear. IOW, software that allows for making certain camera response characteristics non-linear.

Being able to look around the frameline is certainly desirable. An optical finder would be the best.

Any moves towards standardizing things like rods, rosettes and mounting plates would be good for everyone.

PL mounts and single sensor technology is appealing for a lot of reasons.

Light weight and a camera build that doesn't require so many third party add-on's would be great. That's a pretty tall order, but we can dream!

It would be great if what *we* want is what would emerge in the marketplace.

-David Perrault, CSC
Amen, David. Panavision, Arri, Panasonic, Sony, RED -- are you listening?

truth doodle: conversations with movie producers

conversations with movie producers

truth doodle: me / struggling artist / successful artist

me / struggling artist / successful artist

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

raging against the machine only works if the machine can be disassembled

The Big Takeover, by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone Magazine (April 2, 2009 issue).

In eight pages, Matt Taibbi explains what I've felt in my bones but couldn't articulate for months, mainly because I didn't have all the details spelled out for me until now.

I've had people tell me our government is a joke, a shill for the finance megacorporations which truly control us. I figured that just meant purchasing a few lobbyists, which I actually think is okay -- congresspeople can always choose to ignore them -- but now that I know the true scope of things (if Taibbi can be believed), I want to hide under my bed in the fetal position waiting for Armageddon.
Gordon Gecko, Wall Street: "The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It's bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it."
It's not just posturing, the governmental power which Wall Street owns is real. They install their own (e.g. Paulson, Geithner) in our government, in order for Wall Street to be 'regulated' by its palsy-walsy brethren, but I wasn't aware of the true powerlessness of our nation until now. And AIG didn't even have a CFO or Chief Risk-Assessment Officer during the worst of this shitstorm!

Truly, we are in the grip of the world's most frat-boyish gang of thugs:
The bonuses are a nice comic touch highlighting one of the more outrageous tangents of the bailout age, namely the fact that, even with the planet in flames, some members of the Wall Street class can't even get used to the tragedy of having to fly coach. "These people need their trips to Baja, their spa treatments, their hand jobs," says an official involved in the AIG bailout, a serious look on his face, apparently not even half-kidding. "They don't function well without them."
None of this is terribly surprising, and I'm equally furious that we live in a civilization where this sort of thing is -- well, unsurprising. It's all like a "Simpsons" episode gone especially mad. I haven't been this angry since I last watched The Corporation.

Geithner is a joke.

The Treasury Dept., and specifically the Office of Thrift Supervision, is a joke.

The Glass-Steagall Act (the second one) is a joke, thanks to Senator Gramm, Representative Leach, and Representative Bliley. (Tangent: Gramm's wife was on the board of directors for Enron, but Leach supported legislation regarding the use of soy ink by the federal government -- plus he's pro-choice and in favor of stem cell research. How did someone like Leach get mixed up in all this?)

The Fed rules our world in order to benefit a few hundred financial assholes who own us, and they don't have to answer to anybody, least of all Congress.

Silly me! I actually believed that crap like 'voting' and 'paying taxes' meant something to the future of this republic!

This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite comic strips:



I need to go punch holes in some walls now, and then run through the streets shrieking about how soylent green is people. That, or I'll be getting some groceries at Trader Joe's; I'm far easier to soothe when I'm chock full of lunch and have a stocked fridge.

BASTARDS BASTARDS BASTARDS. AND THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO TO CHANGE THIS. Geithner will never chop up companies like AIG to make them more manageable. There will be no legislation passed with any real regulatory teeth. We're all either Gordon Gecko, or we're slaves to a system which is not built to help us.

INSERT FORMLESS SCREAM HERE.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

the truth about açaí

So, Jon got me into drinking a shot of açaí juice (mixed with pomegranate and other polyphenol-rich juices) every morning, and lately I haven't been sure that it's really worth it. I finally looked up "acai juice" on PubMed this morning, and here's what I found:
[from Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States. Seeram NP, Aviram M, Zhang Y, Henning SM, Feng L, Dreher M, Heber D. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 27;56(4):1415-22. Epub 2008 Jan 26.]

"Antioxidant potency, ability to inhibit LDL oxidation, and total polyphenol content were consistent in classifying the antioxidant capacity of the polyphenol-rich beverages in the following order:

PJ [pomegranate juice] > red wine > Concord grape juice > blueberry juice > black cherry juice, açaí juice, cranberry juice > orange juice, iced tea beverages, apple juice.

Although in vitro antioxidant potency does not prove in vivo biological activity, there is also consistent clinical evidence of antioxidant potency for the most potent beverages including both PJ and red wine."
Problem is, I hate the heavy, oozy muckiness of pomegranate juice, and red wine makes me a bit loopy for my taste, so I guess I'll stick to Concord grape juice. Good luck finding that stuff with zero added sugar or water, though.

Trader Joe's / Quietube



Man, this ad-which-isn't-an-ad totally sums up the Trader Joe's experience for me, right down to the wonderful cheeses and hideous lack of parking. The parsnip chips are new to me, though.

Also: if you don't yet know about Quietube, try it now. Nownownow. It's so...restful.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is France really this horrific for Jews?

This is a mass email I received via my mom. Is any of this true?


Subject: Bad News From France - VERY Bad

Bad news from France ...REAL BAD! for French Jews...

Once again, the real news in France is conveniently not being reported as it should. To give you an idea of what's going on in that country where there are now between 5 and 6 million Muslims and about 600,000 Jews, here is an E-mail that came from a Jew living in France. Please read!

"Will the world say nothing - again - as it did in Hitler's time?" He writes: "I AM A JEW -- therefore I am forwarding this to everyone on all my e-mail lists. I will not sit back and do nothing. Nowhere have the flames of anti-Semitism burned more furiously than in France. In Lyon, a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on fire. In Montpellier, the Jewish religious center was firebombed; so were synagogues in Strasbourg and Marseilles; so was a Jewish school in Creteil - all recently. A Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus, in Paris, the words 'Dirty Jew' were painted. In Bondy, 15 men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks and metal bars. The bus that takes Jewish children to school in Aubervilliers has been attacked three times in the last 14 months. According to the Police, metropolitan Paris has seen 10 to 12 anti-Jewish incidents PER DAY in the past 30 days. Walls in Jewish neighborhoods have been defaced with slogans proclaiming 'Jews to the gas chambers' and 'Death to the Jews.' A gunman opened fire on a kosher butcher's shop (and, of course, the butcher) in Toulouse, France. A Jewish couple in their 20's were beaten up by five men in Villeurbanne, France (the woman was pregnant). A Jewish school was broken into and vandalized in Sarcelles, France. This was just in the past week."

"So I call on you, whether you are a fellow Jew, a friend, or merely a person with the capacity and desire to distinguish decency from depravity, to do - at least - these three simple things:

"First, care enough to stay informed. Don't ever let yourself become deluded into thinking that this is not your fight. I remind you of what Pastor Neimoller said in World War II: 'First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.'

"Second, boycott France and French products. Only the Arab countries are more toxically anti-Semitic and, unlike them, France exports more than just oil and hatred. So boycott their wines and their perfumes. Boycott their clothes and their foodstuffs. Boycott their movies. Definitely boycott their shores. If we are resolved we can exert amazing pressure and, whatever else we may know about the French, we most certainly know that they are like a cobweb in a hurricane in the face of well-directed pressure.

"Third, send this along to your family, your friends, and your co-workers. Think of all of the people of good conscience that you know and let them know that you - and the people that you care - about need their help.

"The number one bestselling book in France is....'September 11: The Frightening Fraud' which argues that no plane ever hit the Pentagon!

"Please Pass This On, Let's not let history repeat itself, thank-you for your time and consideration."


Let me know, okay?

UPDATE: Thanks to the eagle-eyed Gallus, the plot thickens. Apparently, chunks of the email were plagiarized, but the items are no less true -- to quote Classical Values, "the situation in France is absolutely appalling."