October 2010 Archives

The steady rattle of the hamster's wheel at night is a comforting sound. Forward motion. Arrival is less important than the traveling.
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The idea is to get to sleep early enough that I have some time for reflection at the beginning of the day...

I've been getting rid of things (archiving or deleting them) from my laptop, as I need more room for working on current projects.  One of the most helpful programs for me, is a piece of freeware called Grand Perspective. The program scans my hard drive and then shows me all my files as a tree map - I can quickly see the large files I've forgotten about, and determine whether they are still needed.


Took part in a nighttime raku firing with a colleague and students from our school.  Here's my tea bowl, red hot and about to be taken out of the kiln. I love the unexpected results from this kind of firing.  Nothing is ever as you imagined it ahead of time, but as you look at the finished pieces, you learn how to see the beauty in them.

You've probably already seen this somewhere else, but I'm putting it here anyway because it makes me smile.
I found this article in my online travels today, about how Amazon approaches product development, by working backwards from what their customer wants.  I think their process is a helpful one to follow, if you are working with other people, or trying to enlist the support of a group.  Some projects of mine would (or will) benefit from it.  For other projects, however, I need to discover what I am doing by doing it.  I can only describe the result when I have one.

"We're of the school that if you have an idea that you think might work, the answer is not to talk about it for four weeks. The answer is to try it and see what happens," he says. "If it goes down in flames, that's fun too."

After reading an article in the New York Times earlier this fall, I got interested in learning more about the Livescribe smartpen.  With this pen, you write on specially dotted paper, and an on-board camera records your marks - words, sketches, doodles, diagrams. These can be uploaded to your computer whenever you dock the pen to recharge it.  The pen can also record audio. Later on, you can touch your pen to any mark on the paper, and it instantly plays back the sound recorded at that moment. You can also click on any part of the image when it's on your computer, and the sound will ply back in the same way. My pen came at the end of last week, and over the weekend I got it charged up and working.  I'm looking forward to taking notes in meetings this week, so that I can see how it all works in practice.
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Using stop motion, rotoscoping, live video, and I'm not sure what else, artist Evelien Lohbeck created this video. I think I bookmarked it the first time I saw it, but when I came across it yesterday, I discovered even more to enjoy.
Further reading let me learn that the latest version of iCal cannot yet push updates to an iPad. So it wasn't just me. After the iPad software is updated in November, push updates will be available. My phone is syncing nicely with my laptop, meanwhile...
I'm trying to set up a new MobileMe account this evening. So far, contacts sync fine. Calendars are syncing, but slowly. The "to do" lists won't sync yet. I'm relying on online research plus trial and error. And lots of patience.
Attended an idea generation event this evening - arriving slightly late, tired, after a day full of work projects and family questions.  But as our table of people began connecting thoughts and sharing possibilities, I felt a level of energy generated by the group. That energy grew with the guided discussion, continued through the presentations and post presentation discussions, and followed me right out the door and home again.  The best discussions can be like that - we all get to leave with more than we brought to the table.

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography - Language from Matthew Rogers on Vimeo.

Yet another Stephen-Fry-related link - in this case, artist Matt Rogers creates a kinetic typography animation in which we watch the words arrange themselves as we hear Stephen Fry speaking about a love of language. (via Laughing Squid)

Totally engaged in what he's doing.
Perhaps it was making stew this afternoon for tomorrow's supper, and tasting how the separate ingredients begin to blend and become something greater in combination.  I'm looking forward to thinking this week about ways I might combine or connect projects in progress. I don't know how it will go, but I feel tugged toward tracing these relationships. So I'll make some time for that.
One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible.


Never realized that six flippers would evoke such an "aw... cute" response in me. Check out AquaTablet, swimming underwater, guided by tethered divers or by reading bar codes with its onboard camera (via Quietbot).

Artist Niklas Roy wanted more privacy in his street-level studio. (Or so he says. His project resulted in more attention, not less, but what fun!)

My workshop is located in an old storefront with a big window facing towards the street. In an attempt to create more privacy inside, I've decided to install a small but smart curtain in that window. The curtain is smaller than the window, but an additional surveillance camera and an old laptop provide it with intelligence: The computer sees the pedestrians and locates them. With a motor attached, it positions the curtain exactly where the pedestrians are.

The whole setup works really well. But in the end, it doesn't protect my privacy at all. It seems that the existence of my little curtain is leading itself ad absurdum, simply by doing its job very well. My moving curtain attracts the looks of people which usually would never care about my window. It is even the star of the street, now! My curtain is just engaged. And because of that, it fails.

As energy surges back in the wake of the retreating cold/flu, I face the household tasks undone. But I'm so happy to be feeling well again, that I don't mind.  Others in the family did extra while I was resting - now it's my turn...
Artist Michelle Min has posted directions for a talking puppet, using the electronics from a push-button recordable greeting card.  I can imagine lots of variations on this...

(via Craftzine)

This is the first part of a six-part video. The whole thing is worth watching. (I opened each of the six 15-minute parts in tabs in my browser and let them pre-load overnight. Then I could watch the whole thing play back smoothly...)

Thanks to Cynthia Closkey for letting me know that this was available. As she says, "Creativity, humor, origins, overcoming."
Stephen Fry pointed out that 101010 is the binary way to write 42.
It's all I can do not to go from bookstore to bookstore with a pen, grabbing my books from the shelves, crossing out certain lines I've come to regret and inserting better ones.

Michael Cunningham New York Times  10.3.10  "Found in Translation"

This goes by quickly, but is packed with ideas.

Just ordered this one, a Pilot 78G, with the extra fine nib.  I had one for a couple of years, and loved it for drawing, so now that it's been missing for a really extended time (more than a year), I've decided to replace it.
More about that here.  Many thanks to Jason for the fix.
The Gray Box issue continues over on woolgathering. I can look at monthly (http://www.elizabethperry.com/woolgathering/2010/10/) and individual archives just fine, but the front page (index) is obscured.

Will keep trying to figure it out.
Well, so far... this blog seems not to be afflicted with the bugginess I'm experiencing over on woolgathering... where the page loads and then is suddenly covered by a gray box. And I didn't change anything - really. Sigh. I won't be able to wrangle with code tonight, but I'll see what I can figure out tomorrow.

I'm trying to figure out a better work flow for the writing and record-keeping I do in my work. The system I've evolved for my records and reporting over the past nine years, as I've invented my job and worked with or reported to various people, with various styles of learning, and different levels of comfort with detail vs. big picture balance, has grown as strung-together and as unwieldy as this sentence I'm typing now.  At the moment, I have a calendar on my laptop (BusyCal), a written report compiled diary- or blog-style during the week (GoogleDocs), and a printed two-weeks-at-a-glance one page paper calendar (Excel), with lots of penciled notations.  I write about things more than once, nothing syncs, and I can't sort /export information flexibly, though I can find anything I need very quickly. I love having the archive I have - of nine years of conversations and questions and ideas, but I need a better way to do things.

So... I'm looking.  Thinking. Reading a lot.

Starting tomorrow I'm going to try using BusyCal more extensively, using the notes field instead of my old diary style of note-making.  I am going to see if I can use Bento to sort and organize the information, so that I can generate reports quickly. I think that Bento is supposed to integrate with iCal/BusyCal...  At any rate, I'm going to try this new combination next week, and see what I can do with it.
A book in my Great Aunt's house had a personality quiz in it, and we used to quote the questions to one another.  A favorite: Would you walk six blocks to see a parade?



From the Autumn Leaf Festival parade today. I love that you can see more of the band and the tower of the Clarion county courthouse reflected in the bell of the saxophone.
Just coming back from two days of flu-like aches. Will find ways to sit quietly this weekend.



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