Hike

July 27, 2010

The sickest mini hike within an hour of SF is right here. You zigzag up the face of a mountain, getting higher and higher above the foggy horizon, clouds streaming above you and blending into the horizon. The waves at the beach an eternity below you crash in little white lines, as if arranged on a mirror by a credit card, just waiting for you to breathe them in. The curvy view-filled mountain suddenly explodes into a dense misty forest with ancient, enchanted trees. A small way further and there’s a natural window out of the forest onto the hill across the valley. From this vantage point we sat in silence. Time passed. Fog rolled. Hawks flew. Nature existed.

Bliss. Follow the road to Stinson!

Kingdom of Squiggles, by Wyatt Roy

Once there was a kingdom of squiggles. They looked just like hairs from the top of your head, but when they moved, they squiggled. They were a peace-loving people, too squiggly to get much done, but also too squiggly to care about it either.

One day a toothpick visited the kingdom. The squiggles didn’t know what to make of him. Try as they might, they could not teach him to squiggle. And try as he might, he couldn’t teach them to actually do anything.

They had a great feast in honor of their differences. The next day, the toothpick left.

DUH

July 23, 2010

I’m a little behind the curve on this one, but it’s so changed my recent life I had to write about it: The Hype Machine is the slickest.

Music blogs rule because they keep you in with all that sick new ish, those fresh soundwaves, and hook you up with the beats right there, often free.

They suck because there’s too many clicks between you, the millions of music blogs, and the music.

Hypem.com is the answer, and what what what what and answer it is. LOVE.

The thinker

July 22, 2010

A pack a day was exhausting her purse, until Celia realised she could probably just grow her own. She wondered if she’d put enough seeds in.

BIKELIFE

July 21, 2010

I’ve discovered a new limb on my body.

It’s my bike.

It’s different to my previous bike. In fact it’s different to any mountain bike or road bike.

Here’s how.

When I push the pedals, there’ no chain clicking, gear-shifter snicketing, thick tires squelching, like before. There’s just the cool silence of two spinning points of contact, rubber on earth. When I brake, I don’t send a signal down my arm to my hand to squeeze a lever to tighten a cable to compress a pincer to add friction to the steel rim of a wheel to slow its rotation. Now, I make the same movement as when slowing to a stop after running — I absorb the speed in my legs and slow down. No cables, handles, little pieces. Just me and my legs, and this new part of me that moves as I move.

There’s no coasting. When my body’s moving through the streets, my legs are moving. As it should be. It’s like running, but with no impact. Going ten times the speed. With one tenth the effort.

Actually, it feels like flying.

Before, if someone stole my bike, it’d feel like they stole a pair of shoes. Now it would feel like they’d stolen my feet.

What kind of bike gives such incredible feedback and sense of oneness to its rider? I’m sorry hipster-haters, I never understood it before buying this bike… it’s called a fixie.

BP gets a B- in PR

July 20, 2010

photo credit: http://www.americablog.com/2010/07/bp-photoshops-fake-photo-of-command.html

When I think “BP”, I immediately imagine dolphins and shrimp choking on oil, and a big corporation doing way too little about it, way too slowly. BP tried to change this sentiment with some positive PR about their command center that’s cleaning it up. What a mess. They photoshopped a lot. And really carelessly.

But I don’t think it was malevolent, necessarily. Just stupid. Here’s my professional opinion:

What they photoshopped here was because they likely used autometering on the camera (which probably was a point-and-shoot, or DSLR on “auto”) with a broad meter-mode to average the brightness of EVERYTHING in the frame. There’s a huge dynamic range in images with people sitting in front of projection screens — dynamic range just means “range of brightnesses” — so in these situations (in which I’ve done a bunch of photoshoots), the subjects of the photo end up getting underexposed (too dark) and the screens get overexposed (too bright). The photoshopper tried to extract the underexposed people and brighten them — I can tell because of the noise present on their faces (like “graininess”). This way, he/she’s creating a faux-HDR (or “high dynamic range) photo — a photo that compresses all the actual brightnesses of light in a situation into the smaller range of brightnesses that are displayable on a computer screen, or in a printed photo. It’s like this, where obviously the sky is brighter than the trees in real life, but in the photo both are visible, or this, where again, obviously the sky was brighter than the table under the tree (the sky was the light source!), but to make the photo aesthetically better and to display visual information more like how our eye naturally sees it, I compressed the range of brightnesses, making the bright things the same brightness as the shadows so you don’t have anything blown-out white or underexposed-black, and can see the whole image.

Bringing it back to BP, they must not have had anyone on the job who knew how to take an HDR shot (even if they did, HDR shots are also nearly impossible with moving things in them, like people, because they require 3 or more separate shots at different exposures to capture detail at all the different brightness levels). But BP knew that the photo would look better with more color/detail, so brightened all the people and darkening the screen, simply doing a dodgy job of extracting them with a really shoddy layer mask. Extraction’s tough though! There are no good automatic tools to do it — lots of tools to make it easier, but no tool will automatically “know” what you want extracted, especially not in the mixed luminance/color situations of those photos.

Taking a photo from 10 years ago and placing fake screenshots of a contemporary oil spill onto them is foolish, because it’s fiendishly difficult to make it look convincing. It’s also misleading and lying, neither of which I condone. But in their defence, it’s hard to obtain release forms from non-models, ie. the workers actually working in the real operations station. Especially if they’re working in a high-pressure, politically charged situation and don’t want their faces up on the internet.

So I understand how a series of small steps, from “make the photo prettier”, which made the photoshopper increase the dynamic range, to “release a command center shot” with none available and no ability gain permissions to take one, could have led to this. But it’s almost always stupid to lie, and BP definitely should have said “we’re unable to release photos of our command center/response team yet, we’re working on it — but currently all of our resources are devoted to cleaning the oil, not snapping photos”.

BP, call me.

Edit: On second thought, the photoshopper may have done all this dodgy work deliberately, to sabotage BP’s public relations efforts. I can empathize with doing this — and would find myself compelled to do it if I were in the photoshopper’s position. It is for this reason I can’t see myself working PR or advertising in the future — I don’t like the idea of being paid to convince people things I don’t believe (or on which I believe the exact opposite).  I’d make a terrible corporate whore.

I’m not sure which is scarier:

a) Someone designed socks for individual feet

b) I can actually feel the difference (it’s weird and strange, like putting your pants on backwards. What, you’ve never done it? Try it now. It’s weird and strange.)

c) One of them had a sex change.

But none of those things are as scary as how fast I go when I’m wearing these. These are patented Fast Socks. Eat my smoke.

New Office

July 19, 2010

I have a place now. A place to WORK. No more working outside under a tree; no more bumming around in libraries; no more laptop and latte in Pirate Cat Radio Cafe, no-more no-mad.

But I love the nomadic. (That’s “nomadic” in the affected art-historian sense of “the opulent” or “the changing”)

So you’ll find me “here”, online or oncell, but not here in particular. Now I just have a space, is all. Everyone needs a space.

New cans

July 18, 2010

Cheers to DJ Zo-Below for modeling these

What I do best:

spend small amount on an item.

spend multiples of initial cost on materials to artistically enhance it.

Lara gave me these sick Sony monitor phones. Price when bought from a Parisian garage sale: 10 Euros ($13)

Paint/tape/scalpel blade/gloves/etc. to personalize them: $28

Duh.

(Don’t worry, now they sound better.)