August 2010 Archives

Sound Bubbles: test 1 from Charlie Williams on Vimeo.

My mind keeps turning toward Processing these days - I'm about to teach an online high school programming course for artists where Processing will be the language we use. I'm also taking a free online workshop offered by O'Reilly and Creative Live, called Processing and Arduino in Tandem. So to run across this video on the Make blog today, delights me. Here's more information, including code to download and play with. I've heard about the OpenCV framework, and this makes me want to explore further.
And finally, rule 10, which is don't be afraid to fail. It took Thomas Edison 10,000 times before he got the lightbulb right, and when he was asked about those failures, he said "I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
- Carl Malamud, in 10 Rules for Radicals
The farmer used to hold his pig up to an apple tree in the orchard, letting the pig eat apples straight from the branch.

A passerby saw him doing this. "Doesn't that take an awful lot of time? You could just let your pig eat the apples already on the ground."

The farmer responded, "Time? What's time to a pig?"

Utopian or dystopian?
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Pages 09 for the Mac has just been updated, and now has a quick click option to export your Pages document into ePub format, appropriate for iBooks and the iBook Bookstore.  We are one step closer to the great American novel being written - and published - entirely with an iPad.

This simply made me happy today. (via @adafruit)
"I think she must have been very strictly brought up, she's so desperately anxious to do the wrong thing correctly."

(This line from a short story by Saki popped into my head in another context today.)

During today's work retreat, I had the opportunity to sit in a meadow and draw. I used a stick I found at the edge of the woods and ink I brought from home.


The color on the butterfly's wing comes from a wilted flower, picked off the ground and rubbed onto the page.
Tomorrow's back-to-school faculty meetings include some time for ourselves in the woods.  I'm reminded of Kevin Kelly's series of questions in his post, "The Big Here." How much do we know about our particular place in the world?  How much might we  know?  How can we learn? When you read and think about the questions you can't answer, click through to the comments - people share their strategies for finding solutions.

Howard Rheingold writes:
On August 18, 2010, I had the great honor of entertaining Doug Engelbart and his wife Karen and Ted Nelson and his wife Marlene at my home. It isn't a high-production-values video, but they are such interesting people in person that I thought I'd share a little bit of the magic with the world. It felt like having Newton and Galileo over for dinner.
Here's a good idea:
The Rule of 200 works like this: my document word count must increase by 200 before I am done for the day, no exceptions. 200 words is a modest goal. It isn't even an entire page of double-spaced 12pt font. It's a grocery list, an email, a series of text messages; it's a lot shorter than most of my ProfHacker posts (this one included). Sometimes it takes me 15 minutes to write 200 words. Sometimes it takes all day long. But no matter what, before my head hits the pillow for the night, the word count is +200.

I write 200 words a day, every single day, until I have an entire draft. "Every single day" includes weekends, long days on campus, holidays, even my own birthday.
- so writes Erin E. Templeton, blogging for ProfHacker at the Chronicle for Higher Education.  The idea reminds me of my favorite quotation from Anthony Trollope: "A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules." Two hundred words feels like a really achievable daily goal. 
bookcase.png I love to imagine what it would be like to have a two story library.  Here's a two story bookcase - complete with stairs inside for climbing.

Cellist Pablo Casals, age 93, was asked why he still practiced three hours a day.
"I'm beginning to notice some improvement."
Not positive that the cup of after dinner coffee was decaf...

Artist Heath Nash designs sculptural lamps from reclaimed plastic bottles.  He talks about his story and his process.
Sitting downstairs, instead of up, and I hear different night noises. Only one insect outside, rather than the wall of sound two nights ago. The refrigerator just kicked on. My laptop keys click.

I like my new camera. This was taken through the train window, early in the morning, on our return trip from Boston. I felt as if we were traveling through a landscape by Fitz Henry Lane. You can see some dust spots on the window, but I haven't retouched the image, since I love their contrast with the clarity of everything else.
Hot August night, window open, and I list the night noises.  Air conditioners rumble like distant surf, cicadas in a high-pitched wall of rhythm, a cat cries, a siren, two sirens, then the train whistle, city traffic louder and softer again, and still the cicadas.

Somehow I wanted this list of posts about maps to be created in map form.

I liked reading this essay about writing non-fiction - good info on process and research, planning and revising the plan.
Since I have a little more vacation before the school year begins, I'm trying to reclaim my study from the stuff that piles up everywhere when I get busy. Slow going, but I'm beginning to see results.  No single surface is clear - yet - but I'm optimistic. 

I haven't listened to the "Words" episode on WNYC's Radiolab - yet, but this video was created to go with it, and it's beautiful. (via Laughing Squid)
After supper, and after dark, we walked down the street to our tiny urban parklet. Four of us lay on the grass and watched the clouds move and the stars come and go.  We were there for a half an hour or so, and then we walked home again.

Enni Id.

By way of Art for Housewives, itself a blog full of inspiring ideas and links, I found Rima Staines's Hermitage entry showing the work of three women, including Enni Id, who lived from 1900 until 1992 in Finland, and began painting as a widow.  Here are some views of the inside of her cottage. 



(These are just screengrabs from panoramas first posted here - lots more to explore in Rima's full post.)
"I was always a viola hooligan. I almost got kicked out of music camps for doing things in chamber music class that are now called 'extended techniques' but were then just known as fooling around. So with my arranging, I had the freedom to fail, because people were not listening so intently that you couldn't take chances. And that emboldened me to try new things and to compose in a less serious, less academic way."

- Lev Zhurbin, the violist, composer, and arranger who performs and writes under the name Ljova, as quoted in the New York Times today. The whole story is worth a read, but I particularly liked the paragraph above.

Long week. Have a feeling of ideas and projects circling the airport, waiting to be cleared for landing.

Rachel Smith makes a visual record about visual recording with the iPad - with her iPad. See her blog entry for a thoughtful explanation of her process.
Terry Gross interviews Brian May about 19th-century stereographic photography, astrophysics, and, oh yes, his experience as lead guitarist for Queen. Their conversation brings me delight. I'm happy to live in a time when someone can pursue and connect and explore and express such a range of possibilities in so many fields.
Twenty-minute video:  Interview with Agnes Martin, from 1997. (via Deron Bauman)
Sometimes each idea turns into a dead end.  Map the dead ends and see what emerges...
Pius Mau Piailug, master navigator, died on July 12th, aged 78. The Economist told his story here

Reading about his life, teachings, and skill reminded me that when I was in Hawai'i in 2006, I got to see and draw a stone navigation table. 


May 29: Ancient lava stone table with reflecting pool - a navigation aid, I was told. Easier to trace constellations in water than in the sky. From this angle it's hard to tell, but it was balanced on three stone legs, and the whole table was about one meter across. I do not know the Hawai'ian name for it, but this one was on the beach near 'Ahu'ena Heiau in Kona.

Modern navigation note: my GPS reading for the location: N 19° 38.389' W 155° 59.856'.



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