June 2011 Archives

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So far, my barcode scanning application does not want to recognize this.  Maybe after I finish and block it? Or maybe I'll need to felt it? Or perhaps knit stitches are too V-shaped. I'll keep going and see what happens.
A few rows into this experiment, and the counting and keeping track of stitch colors is not as tricky as I thought it would be. (I can watch Hulu or Netflix, and not get totally lost.) So I think I'll have something to show by the end of the coming long weekend.
I'm interested in learning more about Design Thinking, so watched this author's talk by Tim Brown of IDEO. (I wish they'd been able to show his slides when he spoke, as I think the visuals would have been helpful, but even as it is, I found it interesting.)
Improv Everywhere turned a carousel ride into a horse race - and the video they made of the event just makes me happy. I'm glad the rabbit won.

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The Web itself is an eternally unfinished monument to inclusionism -- a text that aspires to be as big and involved as the world it describes. Gleick describes it as "a vast, interlocking set of databases growing asymptotically toward the ideal of All Previous Text." Information is, at root, about control, and the Web gives us more control than we've ever had -- but it also generates so much new information, so constantly, that it feels strangely like a lack of control. It defeats us, every single day; we could never even dream of reading everything on it. Hence the crisis. When our writing -- a tool we invented to tame the world's overwhelming abundance -- itself becomes an overwhelming abundance, it's a double crisis, a meta-crisis.

From 'An Accidental, Experimental Masterpiece' by Sam Anderson in the New York Times, about the (printed) 2011 World Almanac, and how,

Like the Web, the almanac aspires to be a total information delivery system -- the source of every datum you will ever need. Unlike the Web, however, the almanac aims for exhaustiveness within clearly defined limits. It has a front cover and a back cover. Compared with the Internet, it feels wonderfully contained and stable -- it is curated omniscience, portion-control Google. Much of its value comes from the empty spaces around its edges, the missing entries in its index, the silence that descends when you close it.
Well, I do have internet access, but it seems to cut in and out.  Will troubleshoot tomorrow...
Headed out of town for a six-week work project. In theory, I should have internet access there starting tomorrow, but if it takes a day or so to get it straightened out, I'll be back.
Getting ready to head out of town for six weeks of work. Which art supplies, which tech supplies will I want?
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Just got some very soft, very fine yarn so that I can try to knit QR codes.
Happy solstice, everyone, 
I just watched a terrific talk given by Eva-Lotta Lamm: "Visual Note Taking / Sketchnotes." 

Eva-Lotta Lamm: Visual Note Taking / Sketchnotes from webexpo on Vimeo.

Her demonstrations, examples, and explanations were very helpful. (Hope I get to see her speak at some point - or perhaps she'll write a book...) More information and links on her blog. (via Peter Durand)
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How wonderful. 65,000 rubber bands. Preston Moeller made this chair. via Laughing Squid
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Perhaps this house would have enough bookcases...
Today ended the week of camp - great fun, but tiring. Happy for the weekend and a chance to recharge.


I helped students at the school's summer day camp make little penguins from the fingers of cotton work gloves. Then they made a stop-motion animation of the penguins crossing part of Antarctica.

I have pictures of the step-by-step penguin construction, and as soon as I get the chance to put it on instructables.com, I will share a link to it.
So happy to have found this interview with Ed Emberly:



I had a copy of Make A World, and have given it to many children over the years.
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This project made me happy. I might choose a different text, but I love the entire combination of ideas, as described here. 

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Jeri Elsworth created a skirt where LEDs are triggered by an IR sensor.  I love the way she put the sensor and battery in an old Instamatic camera body.
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A sunny afternoon. Youngest borrowed my camera, and we took a long walk through three neighborhoods.

Robots, robots, robots.  Trying to figure out how to program a new robot with a Mac, when the programing language was written to be run on Windows...
Today was the last day of the regular school year for me, so tomorrow I plunge into summer. As a child, I visualized every year progressing along the path of a rectangle, beginning with a long side which contained the months of September through November, then a corner turned to the right and the months ran from December through June, and then July had a side of its own, and so did August. That's how important summer was in relation to the rest of the year. I still visualize time in that pattern, and I think I still expect summer to be as important as all the rest of the year put together.
Why I Take Good Care of My Macintosh

By Gary Snyder


Because it broods under its hood like a perched falcon,
Because it jumps like a skittish horse and sometimes throws me,
Because it is poky when cold,
Because plastic is a sad, strong material that is charming to rodents,
Because it is flighty,
Because my mind flies into it through my fingers,
Because it leaps forward and backward, is an endless sniffer and searcher,
Because its keys click like hail on a boulder,
And it winks when it goes out,
And puts word-heaps in hoards for me, dozens of pockets of gold under boulders in streambeds, identical seedpods strong on a vine, or it stores bins of bolts;
And I lose them and find them,
Because whole worlds of writing can be boldly laid out and then highlighted and vanish in a flash at "delete," so it teaches of impermanence and pain;
And because my computer and me are both brief in this world, both foolish, and we have earthly fates,
Because I have let it move in with me right inside the tent,
And it goes with me out every morning;
We fill up our baskets, get back home,
Feel rich, relax, I throw it a scrap and it hums.


One more day for the final formalities of school, and then the students are done for the year.
The deadline for this terrific project is July 30. I think I may have to make something for it.

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(via Craftzine)
I love the way this project kept growing, from plotting catenary arches with hardware store chain, to building desktop models, to building 2-meter (and taller!) models.  Inexpensive materials, straightforward process, memorable results. Without even having built one of the models, I will now remember that a catenary arch is an arch in equilibrium:

The shape of a hanging chain is called a catenary curve.  Each link settles in to an equilibrium angle relative to its neighbors, so if you turn everything over, those angles give a plan for blocks which can rest on each other to make an arch in equilibrium. This suggests a fun construction: making giant arches from separate cardboard blocks.

And of course, I'm now trying to think of an excuse to build a giant arch...


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"We need a combination of confidence and of curiosity. It is a form of deep-seated opportunism that goes to the core of our nature and is very optimistic. I haven't been killed by my foolishness yet, so let's keep going, let's take chances. The phrase expresses that our knowledge is always incomplete, and that we have to be willing to act on imperfect knowledge. That allows you to open your mind and explore. It means putting aside the explanations provided by social constructs and ideologies." 

Hector Thunderstorm Project from Murray Fredericks on Vimeo.

If you can, watch this in HD. (via kottke)
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Went to a new art & tech space in my neighborhood: assemble.  Great conversations, some intriguing projects, and best of all, it's walking distance from home.
In the middle of the roller-coaster onset of summer - midsummer weather flips back to spring and back to summer again, intense days of work against deadlines shift over into a zone of meetings and cleaning up. And then the preparation for the next round of teaching and deadlines begins.

My Visual Diary from joehollier on Vimeo.

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