2 3 live&learn&rejoice: January 2011

January 31, 2011

Love and Science

Marie Curie was the first woman in France to receive a doctorate.  She and her husband Pierre won the Nobel Prize in 1903.  Pierre Curie was run over by a horse carriage and died in 1906.   Marie was then offered Pierre’s professorship at the Sorbonne (her remarks - “I have been named to your chair.  There have been some imbeciles to congratulate me on it.”*).  Marie and one of Pierre’s students, Paul Langevin, fell in love.  He was married.  Scandal ensued.  Marie won the Nobel Prize in 1911, but the scandal was such that she almost didn’t go to Stockholm to receive it.  But she did.  The romance did not last.
Later Paul Langevin developed “the first effective submarine echo-location system - the detection of a hidden presence by its reflection of high frequency sound waves.”*
Marie Curie died in 1934.  She was 77.
Lauren Redniss, Radioactive - Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout (itBooks, Harper Collins 2010)

yet even more on social media...

...so now we have a superbowl ad being pre-released on the company's website in hopes that social media will create buzz about the ad before it runs sunday...times they are a changin'...and i do hope i am among the first to help generate the ever-important social media buzz with this post.

(incidentally homeaway.com is an austin-based company with an outstanding website for renting apartments/houses for vacation and temporary stays...i used it only once so far and ended up with an affordable "flat" in soho, london. the owner of the apartment was an interior designer so it was impeccably decorated complete with a really terrific private outdoor patio...anyway, i have a favorable impression of the company & anyone willing to throw a test baby in a commercial, well, you know, you gotta admire them, no?...that they used a local ad agency instead of a national one to create this spot is also good, austin economy needs all the business it can get)

HomeAway seeking big splash with early online posting of Super Bowl ad
Published: 9:14 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011

The Super Bowl is six days away, but Austin-based HomeAway wants to get buzz for its ad going early by releasing it online today.

Even bad buzz will do: The spot includes a dad accidentally throwing his baby into a glass wall.

The buzz can be positive or negative, as long as there's buzz," said CEO Brian Sharples , explaining why his online vacation home rental company departed from the tradition of keeping Super Bowl ads under tight wraps until they air.

The company is posting the ad on its HomeAway.com website, hoping it will quickly become a talker on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, et al and attract more people to its website.

The 30-second ad will air during the third quarter, before a television audience estimated at 100 million. HomeAway paid $3 million for the air time, according to advertising industry analysts.

Last year, HomeAway aired a Super Bowl spot featuring Chevy Chase reprising his role in "National Lampoon's Vacation."

This year, the company worked with Austin agency Vendor Inc. on a fast-paced ad about a fictional government "Ministry of Detourism" that works to rescue vacations ruined by bad hotel experiences and promote the idea of renting private homes for more space and privacy.

Hotels hate your guts," declares the minister, played by British comedian James Dreyfus.

The ad takes place in the ministry's top-secret government testing facility, where families endure various hotel room disasters in the glass-walled "hotel room simulator."

In one scene, a family is squabbling over space in a cramped hotel room. The dad falls onto a coffee table and accidentally launches the baby (an animated doll) into the air. It smashes against a glass wall before sliding to the floor.

In the TV spot, Dreyfus catches the baby. "It's just a test baby," he says.

In 60-second online videos, HomeAway.com will feature three versions that people can customize. They can choose the fate of the baby ("smush," "smash" or "catch"), and replace the baby's face with their own or someone else's. The commercial can then be shared on social networks and e-mailed to friends.

We used the test baby to create a Super Bowl-worthy moment that breaks through the clutter of many ads," Sharples said. "While everyone loves babies and wouldn't want to see a real infant get mistakenly flung into the air, we hope viewers will get a good laugh from our test baby's unfortunate flight. The comic situation is used to highlight the fact that families, particularly those with children, could use a little extra space when traveling."

There will be additional online videos on HomeAway's website.

The ad is another big bet for 6-year-old HomeAway, which spent more than $2 million on airtime, plus salaries and production costs, on last year's spot.

The goal was to increase awareness of vacation rentals and the HomeAway brand. In the 24 hours after the game began, the ad generated a 500 percent increase in visits to HomeAway.com. The site also received 1 million incremental page views in a 24-hour period.

"We always said if we had the right idea, we would do it again," Sharples said. "The Super Bowl gives you an amazing opportunity to reach, in one fell swoop, over 100 million people who are actually paying attention to the ads. I can't think of a more efficient way to reach that many people, and that's just the beginning. From there it flows to the Web."

Analysts say this is the year that combining Super Bowl ads with social media will come together, with advertisers using online tools to reach new audiences and keep their messages going long after the game is over.

Roughly 15 percent of the people who watch the Super Bowl this year are expected to post something on Facebook about the game or the ads, according to a survey by Venables Bell & Partners, a San Francisco ad agency.

Thirty-one percent of those who responded said they intended to share their favorite ads with friends via e-mail, Facebook or another social media avenue, up from 26 percent last year.

For its 2010 campaign, HomeAway worked with advertising agency Publicis in the West , part of a big global advertising company.

This time, it used a year-old Austin agency, Vendor Inc., which had done a small project for the company.

"It's great for Austin to have an entrepreneurial company like HomeAway representing it at the Super Bowl, and for HomeAway to team with a local firm like us is part of the Austin story," said James Martin, a partner at Vendor who spent 20 years at Austin-based GSD&M Idea City.

Sharples says he liked Vendor's ideas.

"One of the things that Austin is all about is buying local, and it was great to find this kind of talent here," Sharples said.

In contrast to selling beer or a candy bar, the challenge for Vendor involved explaining a more complicated brand in a short time.

HomeAway runs the largest network of websites for people who want to rent vacation homes or condominiums, with more than 540,000 rental listings in 120 countries. The concept is still relatively new in the U.S., and HomeAway wanted a high-profile campaign to prove why vacation rentals are the better alternative to hotels.

For HomeAway, which has raised more than $400 million in private equity backing, the ad campaign is part of its push to become a household name for travel, like Orbitz or Travelocity.

The company, which Sharples says is profitable, is considered a leading candidate for an initial public stock offering this year or next.

It has 780 employees worldwide, including 330 in Austin.

Filming took place in a locomotive manufacturing factory in Prague, which has a world-class film and commercial production industry at competitive rates, according to Matt Cohen a Bazaarvoice marketing executive.

Vendor partner Joe Shands says he believes the ad will stack up well against this year's Super Bowl competition, which includes offerings from Budweiser, Doritos and Volkswagen. But he acknowledges he'll be nervous on Sunday.

"It's the largest ad stage in the world. This is the best of the best of the best, and you're always waiting, thinking 'OK, let's see how my dog runs in this race.' You're going to be judged by it."

Last year, Sharples gave away the two free game tickets that advertisers receive. This year, he's taking his father and will be watching from a VIP skybox at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

While the hope is for a breakout ad, success will be measured by how many people visit HomeAway's Web site, customize the videos and share them online, and then return for more, Sharples said.

"The ad is just the first step," he said. "What happens next is what really matters."

"social" networking continued

so now a restaurant in austin has introduced wireless tablet service "that lets diners become more interactive with the menu."


"The digitized menus allow patrons to link dishes with their social media accounts to promote their dinner selections."

does anyone care what their fb friend ate for dinner?

January 30, 2011

Social (?) networking

All this from a short article in the Style section of the NY Times (Pamela Paul, "Does Facebook Make Someone Social Offline?").....

Not at all surprisingly ......

Men, more than women, are more likely to post political (49% / 36%) and religious (51% / 43%) musings on Facebook*.  And, although women, more than men, show emotion online, women and men are equal (more or less) in their online updating, sharing, etc. of their relationship status.

*I do no do Facebook or anything like it, so I do not know of what I speak.

this sentence is false

in a village there lives a barber who shaves all and only the people who do not shave themselves.

so, who shaves the barber?

if he shaves himself, he does not; if he does not shave himself, he does.

["the point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it," bertrand russell, 1918.]

January 29, 2011

tribute to king henry viii....

learning new options in photoshop cs5 with the tudors mini-series on my mind...

archeological discovery found at ludlow palace

January 28, 2011

tattoo origins?

according to 30,000 years of art, the picture below is a pot fragment from the solomon islands. the design motif would later be used on tattoos in the region, which "makes sense from a design perspective ... cermaics, textiles and tattoos each allow surface decoration that then articluates a three-dimensional form."

fragment of lapita pottery, c 1000 BC
 and if this leaves you wondering where the solomon islands might be found, well, join the crowd...think east of papua new guinea or, for those with a higher level knowledge of geography, think oceania

January 27, 2011

Modern vs not-so-modern architecture

Vincent Scully on the difference.....

Baroque architecture is controlling and controlled.  Using the Spanish Steps in Rome as an example of Baroque (as opposed to modern) architecture, he says, of the spaces created by Baroque fixtures, "all movement is around fixed points.  It is a union of the opposites of order and freedom.  The order is absolutely firm, but against it an illusion of freedom is played....it is in fact the space that governs the design."  For architecture to be modern, per Scully, the fixtures, not the space, predominate.

"The space between the natural and the manmade forms is essentially a void between opposing solids...the human beings who occupy it ... are exposed to the two separate and hostile realities of human life, what nature is and what men want to do."


Baroque architectural space?    "symmetry, hierarchy, climax and emotional release"

Modern? "a complicated spatial wandering"

Even more deep.

Vincent Scully, Modern Architecture (NY: George Braziller, 1974).

1864 or 1865: does it matter

the short answer is yes, emphatically yes, details matter.

the long answer is at http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/a-blot-on-lincoln-historians/?scp=1&sq=lincoln&st=Search where you can read the story of a scholar gone bad who wanted the recognition of discovering something profound so badly that he doctored a document written in President Lincoln's hand...and, perhaps even more amazingly, for years he was lauded by the Lincoln experts and the fraud perpetuated. You look at the picture of the forgery and wonder how no one noticed the blotchy writing...

and this incident leads you to wonder

. . . what other lies your teacher told you;

. . . what "history" is in the digital age when fraud is much easier to do and harder to notice;

. . . how deeply the perpetrator wanted recognition: what would you do for fame/recognition as you would like it (as an athlete; as a movie star; as a scholar; as an artist; as an upstanding member of your community; as the hardest worker in the office?)

January 26, 2011

Two new words

Obambulate - "to wander aimlessly"


Ochlophobia - "an abnormal fear of crowds

Source?  Foyles' Philavery: A Treasury of Unusual Words Chambers 2007)

a short test

Please watch the video at http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html, it takes just over a minute. (sorry for the required click, i'm respecting their copyright by not just embedding the clip here.)

Apparently, according to Simons et al, selective attention means some 50% of viewers do not see the gorilla, thus the name of their book The Invisible Gorilla.

Selective attention...I've definitely got it (though, of course I saw the gorilla and being so very narrow-minded, I cannot imagine not seeing the gorilla...so I'm feeling pretty chuffed at the moment because apparently my attention is better than 50% of the population and heck that's really good enough for me....if one accepts that 50% of the viewers didn't see the gorilla, which requires some suspension of disbelief....)

In any event, fun to consider the implications of selective attention. It means I can sometimes tell you what someone wore but not what they said; I can tell you that we talked but I can't remember your telling me about a particular thing (did I really promise to go to your mother's house next weekend? no way); I remember Latrell Spreewell's intense practice before a game against the Spurs years ago, but I couldn't tell you what team he played for or how he performed in the actual game or even which team won the game; and, best of all selective attention means I only hear good news from the doctor and I never need blood work or additional tests!

So I guess we have to read The Invisible Gorilla to find out their theory but that's so tedious and imagination so quick so let's just assume that they assert we've all got some degree of selective attention, reasonable enough.

 Would be nice to remember this if ever you are on a jury panel. It's good to consider not putting too much faith in eye witnesses, no matter how articulate or confident they may appear. I suppose the invisible gorilla means we could always allow that we are wrong (though not a particularly nice option to consider) so best put another way and quickly...how about...consider that the other person is wrong but due to selective attention, there is no way for the individual to recognize the error of his/her ways.

In any event, I will employ selective attention today and not rake the leaves.

Perhaps I did not see the gorilla after all.

January 25, 2011

Amoebae farm

NY Times, today, January 25, 2011 -

A certain kind of amoeba, dictyostelium discoideum, can spread seeds, cultivate the fruit, and finally collect - and eat - the crop.  The amoebae don't eat all of the food they grow; they save some for later.  Within a group of amoebae (a family?), only about 1/3 of the amoebae can serve as farmers.  I don't know whether there are boy amoebae and girl amoebae.  Hunters and gatherers?  The short blurb reports that this kind of amoebae can reproduce either sexually or asexually (so I guess there must be boys and girls).

twitter tweet tweet livelearn2011

as of today live&learn in 2011 now twitters or tweets, not sure which, not sure why, but i guess twhynot?

January 24, 2011


....attributable to Snoopy (quoted in One Thousand Hounds (Taschen, year unknown)) -

"Yesterday I was a dog.
Today I am a dog.
Tomorrow, I will probably be a dog.
There's just so little hope of advancement."

visiting bastrop bridge

bastrop bridge

the bastrop bridge spans the colorado river in a spot that at one time was known as the camino real so it's fun to imagine the peoples who have lived in the area (assuming, of course, you don't dwell too long on the indian population, which was probably decimated by the white settlers who decided this was a nice place to hang their hats in the 1800s).

January 23, 2011

Changing the way you feel about champagne

Per the book "Sorry, Wrong Answer" (Rod Evans, author, a 'Perigee' book published in 2010 by Penguin), the bubbles in champagne are caused by "dirt, dust, or lint."  What?  If the glass from which you drink is absolutely positively clean, no bubbles.  It was once believed that the less-than-perfectly smooth surface of glass provided places where bubbles could adhere.  Apparently not.  "It is the microscopic particles of dust in the glass that enable bubbles to form."  So, the dirtier the glass the more bubbles???  Yuck.


the information experience

the homepage promises an information experience at http://www.qwiki.com/

while qwiki might be a fun search engine, promising an "experience" is promising disappointment. when i search for "dirt" and get a lump of dirt delivered that i can feel and taste and throw at my dogs*, then i'll have an experience .... what you get with qwiki is flashy results from yet another search engine and since it hasn't officially launched yet, value remains unknown.
*i won't really throw the dirt at my dogs

from the homepage now live, i clicked on artists/monet and a very cool montage of images appeared with [basic] accompanying text. nice presentation of information, though the sterile voice that reads the text still sounds like a lifeless computer. and that makes you wonder if being bombarded with a bunch of facts and pictures is kind of lifeless and stale regardless of the tone of the delivery and despite the snazzy animated presentation. perhaps other pages will offer analysis, some kind of comparison/contrast that adds value to the plethora of information we already get on the internet. will qwiki revolutionize how information is shared or is it just adding fancy touches to the information overload we all enjoy daily already?

the big investor in qwiki is one of the facebook co-founders, he's got good stage presence so nice first impression but when he introduces a clip from the movie wall-e to demonstrate the powers of qwiki, everything goes south for me.

remember the scene where the fat captain of the spaceship is trying to learn what earth is and what the sea is so he punches buttons to learn. for me that was kind of an example of how you can't really get something unless you experience it -- ie, you learn what the sea is by going into the water, getting sand up your nose when a wave knocks you over, and feeling slimy things bump up against your legs..that sort of thing.

but in wall-e the captain and the inhabitants of this spacecraft don't ever seem to have sensory experiences at all. they have comfort, they have automation, but they don't get their hands dirty to learn what anything is and that's so depressing, no? as i recall -- and it's been a few years since i saw the movie so perhaps i misremember -- but i seem to recall nobody on the spacecraft even touches one another, there is no affection, they all have gadgets in their hands and sit in their chairs and don't DO anything but observe and absorb what is told to them...but i digress...

....so to give this clip as an example of what qwiki is striving to be makes me cringe, makes me want to go outside and experience life instead of sitting inside and blogging (it is 30 degrees outside and 5 am so i'll continue to rant about passive computer use while sitting in front of the computer passively...nobody said bloggers couldn't be hypocrites, lighten up).

the thought that someone watched wall-e and thought the lifestyle of the people on the spaceship worth emulating creeps me out. so a very weird disconnect for me when watching the promo for the ultimate information experience: his utopia is my nightmare.

....now watch qwiki go on to be the most popular thing since sliced bread (which, incidentally, i also dislike)

January 22, 2011

maze vs labyrinth

a maze is a series of analytic puzzles to be solved; a series of compartmentalized and confusing paths, most of which lead to dead ends (a left-brain endeavor)

a labyrinth is a spiral walking course designed to engage the right-brain. you enter, follow the path to the center, turn around, and walk back out.

and, according to Daniel Pink in A Whole New Mind, there are 4,000 public and private labyrinths in the United States.

the Dole Plantation in Oahu claims to have the largest maze in the world. they have very kindly made a virtual version so that you can take the challenge from your living room: http://www.dole-plantation.com/Worlds-Largest-Maze

lots of claims on the title of longest labyrinth in the world, so go to google & pick your favorite...folks in Buffalo built an ice labyrinth for a winter festival, really isn't it amazing what people get up to...

January 21, 2011

Hawaii and Alaska

The Captain James Cook who was killed on the island of Kauai in what became the State of Hawaii also explored Alaska.  In 1778 he explored the coast of Alaska while looking for a northwest passage that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Cook's navigator was WIlliam Bligh; there is a reef in ALaska named Bligh Reef.  Bligh, of course, went on to greater fame as the captain of the HMS Bounty.


1,000,000,000,000,000 = one quadrillion = # of connections in your brain

come on, how do they know this? how can it be disproved?  one of my quadrillion connections must be loose.

Orthodoxy and ...

...orthopraxy.  Orthodoxy is "a pattern of belief and worship...consistent with the fundamental teachings of the Church."

Orthopraxy is "a pattern of Christian behavior ...consistent with the practice of Jesus and the spirit of the gospel."

All that per the Encyclopedia of Catholocism (Harper San Francisco 1995).

But, per the 1913 version of Webster's, orthopraxy is "the treatment of deformities in the human body by mechanical applicances."

January 20, 2011

a joke

Today I learned a new joke, and here it is for your reading pleasure:

A nun, a rabbi, and a priest walk into a bar. The bartender looks up at them and says, "What is this? A joke?"

(joke courtesy of a whole new mind, a book by daniel h. pink that i don't think i recommend...though it did have this very nice joke so maybe it is worthwhile but my post is a spoiler?)

January 19, 2011


When Thomas Hardy turned 54, he learned to ride a bicycle. When Christopher Columbus was 54, he died. [Courtesy of Eric Hanson, A Book of Ages (New York: Harmony Books 2008)]

January 18, 2011

Don't know why this was surprising....

Three psychology researchers (Michael Kraus, Stephane Cote, and Dacher Kelter) have published a paper that purports to show that upper class folks are less able to decipher the emotions of others than the working class. In the study, class was assigned on the basis of educational level or by self-perceived notions of status.

Per the blurb in Sunday's NY Times, "Earlier studies have suggested that those in the lower classes, unable to simply hire others, rely more on neighbors or relatives for things like a ride to work or child care. As a result, the authors [of the study] propose, they have to develop more effective social skills - ones that will engender good will."

I was tempted to assign this post a subject line of "the clueless rich," but then realized that if they really were clueless, they probably wouldn't be rich.

oh my...an animated widget...this is too much fun to cook dinner


A three-for-one day. How exciting.

Came across a website that lets you keep track of the books you've read and the books you want to read, learn about new books, and share your reading selections with others: goodreads.com.

Learning what a "widget" is (not just that little marble thing in Guinness beer, who knew?)....according to wikipedia: In computer programming, a widget (or control) is an element of a graphical user interface (GUI) that displays an information arrangement changeable by the user, such as a window or a text box.

And then I cut and pasted the html into this blog to insert a widget that displays books I've read.

January 17, 2011


In the Catholic church a non-priest can take the confession of a dying person (could a non-Catholic?).  But, you need a priest to give you Holy Communion, as well as to perform the other rites of 'extreme unction' (the shorthand for which is extramunction).  Now, extreme unction need not be performed only when one is dying.  It can be administered to those who are merely sick.  Here's what I don't know ... what's the difference (in the Catholic Church) - if any - between last rites and extreme unction?

the power of two

today i embark on my first efforts at marketing co-operation, or cross marketing, by highly recommending http://playingbythemoscowrules.blogspot.com/

January 16, 2011


quora.com won a mashable award for being one of the best new user experiences in 2010.

article suggesting how to get the most from quora.com online at http://mashable.com/2011/01/14/get-more-out-of-quora/

not sure i get the difference between quora.com & wikipedia...?....(except quora.com seems more random?)


Cointreau is triple sec - a very strong triple sec, but triple sec nonetheless.  Per Wikipedia, Cointreau, first sold in 1975, is still owned by the Cointreau family.  One member of that family managed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris for a time in the 1980s.  Trying to verify all this I went to the official Cointreau website.  Before one can visit that site, one must assure the web powers that be that one is at least 21 years of age - a birthdate must be entered.  How this would deter anyone - or what it accomplishes - is beyond me.....

Per the OED, an aperitif is an alcoholic drink which is drunk before a meal in order to 'stimulate the appetite.'  A digestif, on the other hand, aids in the digestion of food.  Per Wikipedia, Cointreau is both an aperitif and a digestif.

January 15, 2011


I just realized that I am a tegestologist because I have a collection of beer coasters. I feel proud.

And if the tegestologist tries to collect too many coasters in one evening, this is how the collection might appear:

But really now that the collection has a name, I'm wondering if it shouldn't have insurance.

More on the idea of artisanal

So, per the OED, an artisan is 'a worker in a skilled trade, a craftsman, esp. one utilizing traditional or non-mechanized methods,' and artisanal means 'of, or relating to an artisan or skilled craftsman, involving or using traditional or small scale methods or techniques.'  So, small scale might fit with the idea of vegetables, but the craftsman idea really doesn't.  All the examples of artisanal in the OED really do involve making something, rather than nurturing something (e.g., artisanal cheeses, artisanal wine, artisanal baguette, artisanal birdhouses), except there is a reference to artisanal fisherman, which is really confusing and doesn't make too much sense.  At one point in time, again per the OED, an artisan occupied a social level somewhere between a wage laborer and a property owner.

     "The meanest artisan‥contributes more to the accommodation of life, than the profound scholar."  -- Johnson

But the second definition of artisan in the OED is ' person who cultivates one of the fine arts, an artist.'  But that usage is now rare.

January 14, 2011

a new concept

artisan lettuce

on sale at walmart

[consumer note: tastes like lettuce but knowing it was handcrafted by a skilled tradesperson makes it special somehow]

Coriander and cilantro

Per http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=70 - 

"Coriander seeds have a health-supporting reputation that is high on the list of the healing spices. In parts of Europe, coriander has traditionally been referred to as an "anti-diabetic" plant. In parts of India, it has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. In the United States, coriander has recently been studied for its cholesterol-lowering effects."  

On the other hand, from the UCLA Library website (http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/spice/index.cfm?displayID=8) -
Coriander and cilantro have been advocated for health purposes in folk therapies, and the list of such uses is similar to those for other spices. However, no medical value has been adequately evaluated, and thus this popular herb/spice remains a cook’s ingredient, and is utilized as a manufacturer’s flavor, rather than being recognized as an herbalist’s medication. Food authorities regard coriander as one of the most versatile spices, and, perhaps not surprisingly, individual authors give very different descriptions of its flavor.


January 13, 2011


cloud-based storage

the term keeps popping up in the media.

but what does it all mean, toto?

All is explained at wikipedia (of course) and at http://www.cio.com/article/501814/Cloud_Computing_Definitions_and_Solutions
and it seems that cbs is a computing model that will revolutionize how information is stored with all sorts of implications for chief info officers and the like but for the hapless user, it seems to mean that tech folks are keeping up with figuring out how to give us access to the endless world of information that multiplies by the second, and it sounds like we can continue to mindlessly expect immediate access to anything ever published online, so that's all very nice and can be relegated to the category of "not my concern".

unless, that is, cbs has implications for me, the user of information, indeed, the information addict...

cbs might make it affordable and practical for a business like netflix to just stream videos instead of going to the expense and trouble of mailing dvds. similar implication for a company that sells books. cbs might be the ticket to ensuring the kindle, et al kill the book.  (the antique store of the future might just be what we call a bookstore today...fun to imagine what would be for sale in the antique store of 2050: books, magazines, any paper product?...but that's another topic for another day)

back to cbs...

if cbs dominates, then users must be prepared w/appropriate devices for viewing so mobile devices like the kindle or iPad will become absolutely essential instead of fun additions to our typical technology kit....? seems like security risks would increase so people trained in computer security will be more valuable?

January 12, 2011


Per Jacques Pepin, the chalazae is that part of the egg yolk that suspends the yolk in the shell.  And, when you crack an egg, don't crack it against a bowl - no, that can cause tiny shell pieces to intrude into whatever it is you are mixing.  Better to crack the egg on a flat surface. Room temperature egg whites produce a greater volume when beaten than egg whites that come straight from the refrigerator.

the vondel of vondel park

the vondel park is a big, lovely open space in one of the coolest cities of the world and i've enjoyed jogging around the park, performances in the park, and ice creams while strolling around the park. but what does vondel mean?

so today's project i researched vondel and w/apologies to the legions of dutch people appalled by my ignorance...JOOST VAN DEN VONDEL...is considered Holland's national playright and is a "prince of poets"...according to the book i got from the library.

his masterpiece, lucifer, was written in the 1650s, before the age of the sound bite and no simple tidbits lend themselves to a quick note in a blog. not sure this is my kind of writing since my appreciation of poetry kind of starts and stops w/dr seuss but it would appear that beelzebub and lucifer are very bad, trying to corrupt corruptible mankind, and i think all ends satisfactorily, though not heavenly.

since i appreciate the man's park more than the man's literary contributions, a picture of the park courtesy of google images it is:

January 11, 2011

Waves ... in the ocean

Per an article in Vanity Fair (February 2011), the tallest wave ever recorded to have been surfed was around ninety feet tall - that's maybe 7-8 stories high.  And, it was a 45 year old (Ken Bradshaw) who did it.  But, he needed some help from a friend on a Jet-Ski who towed him into the 'intercept' of a wave.  It happened on Oahu.

did someone say murder?

oh my....off to a great start book-wise this year with the publication of the invention of murder, a "meticulously researched and compelling book," according to amazon.com. if that isn't exciting enough, it's about murder in victorian england. does a topic get anymore fun?

now if only i had a job, i could buy the book.

(see previous post about unemployment & impending financial ruin)

January 10, 2011

New buildings....

..... in San Francisco have to dedicate a certain percentage (of land, of building space?) to public use.  What an idea!

commit to not boring people in 2011 and beyond

Isn't it curious that as we start 2011, conferences and board meetings continue to be plagued by presenters who insist on mind numbing traditional PowerPoint slideshows? What's up with that? Do these people still use rotary telephones and typewriters? Do their secretaries continue to depend on carbon copies? Is a mouse for them only something that scares you scurrying across the kitchen floor (okay, maybe that's only my house...)

Edward Tufte long ago demonstrated how to package even dense quantities of complex information in eye-catching designs and since then we've had Slideology, presentationzen, and goodness knows how many other books giving basic guidelines for how to avoid boring the audience and how to use basic tools like PPT to create effective and powerful presentations. Of course in Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore demonstrated how to do a kick-ass presentation. While the scale of that obviously isn't doable as a norm, still the goal is in that direction and not in bulleted lists for infinity (unless your objective is to get the audience daydreaming about their next vacation, really skip any semblance of a bulleted list.)

Apps on the iPad like fluid or carp point the direction for presentations of the future. I don't have a clue how to create those kinds of effects but I know enough that I want to learn how to use the existing technology to the best of my ability to incorporate new things into my presentations. You do cool things not to show off your talents (okay, well maybe a little) but you do these things to complement your argument and to make your presentation more persuasive and more powerful -- because you have a msg that you want to get across not because you have 15 minutes to fill.

So let's all learn how to do better presentations and stop boring the audience in 2011. A simple guideline to start, less is more on the slide. Take a cue from the traditional Japanese scrolls and learn to embrace space: less=more.

The concept might successfully be applied to the length of time presenters talk as well. Just because you are allotted 15 minutes doesn't mean you have to take it all for your presentation...just a thought.

January 9, 2011

mural in san antonio (to accompany previous blog)


Murals can be removed from buildings, preserved, and reinstalled in new locations. How? It's not new technology. As I understand it, and I could be way off base, the mural is transferred to an adhesive surface by vibrating the wall on which it is painted. One question - wouldn't the transferred mural be the mirror image of the original?


Who knew......

.... that something called a gimbal existed or that it is used in film-making to allow objects to stay in more or less a level position when things around the object are inclined. NASA uses gimbals to train astronauts. Gimbal lock causes problems.

embedding slideshow inside blog -- there is a first time for everything

January 7, 2011

first came the pyramids, then came stonehenge, and then in 2011 came roden crater

it's a riddle wrapped up in an enigma (to borrow from winston) but with the light from stars that existed when the universe was created perhaps we'll all be able to understand roden crater when it opens to the public this year .... assuming, of course, that the opening date is not put off another two decades like has happened before.

the story of the largest scale art project in the world is told at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/25/arts/design/25fink.html?_r=1&ref=jamesturrell

but mr turrell isn't just sitting around waiting to finish the volcano interior, if you go to google and enter "images james turrell" you'll be greeted with thumbnail pics every shade of color. the guy transforms space with light.

i experienced one of his magical installations at the hirshhorn gallery in dc this summer but his running panels of muted light in a 5-story high tavertine wall in the lobby of an investment house in austin made me go ga-ga yesterday (not the most desirable frame of mind for a job interview, but the piece was more mesmerizing than even my fixation on unemployment--this is powerful stuff, folks, not for the faint of heart)

so watch out ancient egyptians and whoever it was who built stonehenge, james turrell is throwing his hat in the ring for world's coolest site & the odds in vegas and in my house are very much in his favor.

January 6, 2011


Principles or conformity?  Lack of clarity all around, but conference hotel being boycotted by union.  Many conference events take place at said hotel.  Have chosen not to attend events or programs at boycotted hotel, but is it a decision made on principles (good) or one made merely to avoid approbation from colleagues (bad)?  Does it matter?



Imagine a headset that reads brainwaves & takes orders directly from your thoughts to control virtual objects and even electronics.

In my case, chocolate candy bars from stores in my neighborhood would march to my front door 24/7, the floors would be mopped while I was driving to work, and those Van Goghs I always admired in Amsterdam would get on a plane to come visit.

Forbes writer is more prosaic, talking about revolutionizing video games and implications for prosthetics, http://blogs.forbes.com/nicoleperlroth/2010/11/05/names-you-need-to-know-in-2011-tan-le/

Is there a word for a blog about a blog? (other than redundant?--blogundant?)

January 5, 2011


Unemployment teaches that having days to yourself is a great way to live. The luxury of time is delicious -- exercise, cook, clean, read, play with dogs, hang out with friends, work on personal projects, hell, even raking the leaves is all for fun when time is not short.

Unfortunately, unemployment does not pay all that well and the mortgage hasn't changed so some job hunting is in order.

Much to my surprise, I learn that there are a wide variety of temp agencies, and apparently many specialize. For graphic designers and people with marketing experience, there are tempting jobs with "creative" type temp agencies. For serious techies, there are infinite jobs posted with recruiters who specialize in engineering/programming. But even for non-designers and non-techies like me  a plethora of temp agencies exist, and I'm discovering each has its own personality and style.

The exciting temp agencies seem to be recruiting for top-notch companies. They talk about nail-bitingly cool career possibilities. If one of these thrilling job interviews turns into an actual job for me, then I've learned not to be cynical about temp agencies. In the meantime, their interviews and their enticing job descriptions let me sleep better at night so they have a place in the universe.

Other temp agencies seem to be staffed by robot clones and I suspect my left toe has more personality than anyone in their crew. Really when I score a 93 on a typing test, you're not going to note that is rather exceptional? Come on, break a smile. Oh, that's right, you can't, you weren't programmed that way. Whatever, if you can give me a temp job that helps pays the bills, that'll work too. I can always rely on my left toe if I want personality.

Overall, I'm thinking the temp agencies/recruiters are a powerful force for good in the job hunt (though I am still desperately unemployed so take that endorsement with a grain of salt.)

I've also learned through lots of time at the computer that not all jobs are posted everywhere. You might get one interesting job listed amongst the 30+ dreary job descriptions at Monster.com or the like but you won't find it anywhere else. Weird, but true. Do people deliberately opt not to post jobs on their company website or is just an oversight? This means that it is not a waste of time to troll through the endless junk mail these mega-job search engines generate. Despite the fact that I've never stepped foot in a hospital and barely know what "MD" stands for, I keep getting dramatic notices telling me that I'd be perfect for an RN or PT position. Lots of junk emails to wade through, but I have found some interesting possibilities admist all the irrelevant junk so not a (complete) waste of time.

Most of all, I've learned in the last month or so that there are interesting jobs available out there so there is value in doing due diligence. I have an interview for one next week, in fact. The guy told me they received 250 applicants for the position so competition is ridiculously tough but for the unemployed, hope is critical, and the fact that I have an interview next week means there is hope.

Resistance, you see, is not always futile.

Unless it is.

January 4, 2011

It really is a jungle out there...

From today's NY Times, and a study at Princeton -
Tree roots repelling other trees?  Yes, not all tree roots feed the tree.  Some exist merely to fend off advances from encroaching trees.  Roots as weapons.... what next???

what have you been up to in the last 30 years?

One guy in the news today was convicted in 1979 of a crime he didn't commit. He has spent the last three decades in prison. DNA results now indicate he was not guilty of the crime.


Is anyone in the United States not absolutely sick that this happens?


Guy Trebay in Sunday's (01/02/2011) NY Times: "No organ is more promiscuous than the eye, and no appetite more insatiable than the hunger to look."

January 3, 2011

bali high? volley high? poli high -- now there is a surprise

finally took time today to learn the words to one of my favorite songs...not sure if this is a good thing or not, i always enjoyed making up my own words and knowing the "right" way is so restrictive...

Poli High
by Harry Nilsson
Poli-high, Poli-Technic, Poli-Technically High,
Poli-high,, Poli-Technically High,
Valley Low, Valley Low, Valley so low
Valley Low, Valley Low, Valley High
Had a game, had a game, had a technical game,
By the name, by the name, called a technical game,
Valley High, Valley High, Valley High
Poli, Low
Then de whistle blow
Then de whistle blow
Second half, second half, Poli come from behind.
Hold that line, Hold that line, Hold that line,
Far to go, going, slow, Poli come from behind.
Running out of the time.
Number Two, dressed in blue,
Make a run with the ball,
Hurry up Poli, pass Valley by
Then the rain start to fall,
Making fools of them all
And so it ends in a technical tie.

January 2, 2011

A new low

Pharmaceutical ads are invariably in incredibly poor taste.  Example to be posted tomorrow.  Teaser - Rapaflo in Sunday's NY Time Magazine......


fun playing with color at http://www.colourlovers.com/browse

January 1, 2011

Talent helps ... a lot

Hans Holbein, a German, painted at least half - Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and Anne of Cleves - of Henry VIII's six wives.  Thomas Cromwell was Holbein's patron during his time in England.  Holbein was clever - and talented - enough to avoid disfavor when Cromwell and other reformers fell from Henry's grace.

And, Hampton Court was originally Cardinal Wolsey's palace.

austin, texas

yesterday discovered that austin has a youth hostel in a gorgeous setting right on the southeast side of the lake. http://www.hiaustin.org/photos.shtml...really  one of the prettiest locations for a youth hostel i've ever seen.