Wednesday, August 27, 2003

cool eyes

dog's eyes, a photo by ed

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

leaping lemurs

finally made it out to the sf zoo. the lemurs were worth it. liz and i got there late afternoon. they have 5 species hanging about. two orange ruff guys were bouncing around like mad chasing each other, at one point hanging upside down from a net, banging away at each other.

the two babies though stole the show. one a few months older, already venturing out from his mama on a regular basis, bouncing back and forth between ground tree and mama. The other only a month or two old, clung longer to her mom's back. The most amusing moment was when the younger one's mom was feeding at her bucket, the child really wanted to eat, but wasn't quite up to venturing out by herself, even though she really wanted to. She would eat out of her Mom's hand when she could, and once even got onto the rim of the bucket, before plummeting back in.

after feeding the all started clambering up into the trees in their open area, up a tall eucalyptus and then onto the top of douglas furs. all the species seemed to defer to the two parents (although one tried to steal food and had to be chased off), and the move didn't start until they were on their way up. the children seemed even more brave when they were far up from ground, which seemed odd. The mother of the older child would often jump away leaving the child to follow -- a teaching tool I guess.

A major racket insued at one point -- one of these orange guys I think confronted one of another species on a branch. Suddenly every lemur was shouting out, incredibly loud and covering a number of strange crys -- some more like bird calls than primates. It died off after a while, one of the ringtails lowest down on the trees, kept it going the longest with long hoots.

I feel a little better about zoos after reading Life of Pi, although some of the cages seemed pretty old school and horrible.

return of the two towers

saw Two Towers again over the weekend. A good friend had a friend at a Movie Studio who sent him a copy before it was publicly available. good stuff, though he definitely needs a bigger TV. my eyes a little too fixed in a tiny space for 3 hours. the preview for return of the king was a dissappointment, but i am excited about the extended version of two towers. The preview for that looked great.

Monday, August 25, 2003

no flash in the pan

beautiful flash peice a well execute mix somewhere between and the Myst series.

Friday, August 22, 2003

stop fooling around

weird dream this morning, in between alarm snoozes.

Liz and I are pretending to be evangelists, trying to make up names for ourselves as we wait at the door. Azriel, I think. No. Gabriel. I choose something, the door opens we are invited in and sit down. I've forgotten my fake name already. There are a bunch of old people there. We sit in old chairs, or an old sofa. No one seems comfortable. Liz whispers, "give them the crackers." We've brought some, but no one is interested.

Another family enters, and things liven up a little. They've brought better gifts. I end up talking to this kid, 5 years old maybe. I'm trying to show him pictures from a trip. I'm having difficulties getting to the pictures I want to show him, and the kid is being horrible. I end up biting him in the arm, my hands being busy with the camera I guess, and after that he is much better behaved.

The pictures are cool, various metal statuary in some Chinese part of a city. Nice lighting and intracite metal work.

But biting, what's that all about?

eden again?

holy mother of environmental crimes. marshes larger than the everglades drained and turned into salt flats. they were apparently big hideouts for anyone trying to escape the regime. someone referred to them as the "statue of liberty" for iraqis. now there is a chance for them again. but it will be an uphill struggle against oil interests, agriculture, and turkish control over a good portion of both the tigris and euphrates headwaters.

Look for the eden again project a project of the iraq foundation (link did not seem to be working for some reason. alas)

Thursday, August 21, 2003

second flashes

was thinking that there is something about flash mobs that is good -- this world needs a little fricking levity not to mention silliness that is not organized by some corporate conglomerate, and not requiring a bribe of the possibility of millions of dollars (aka reality tv) and shakes things up on the street a little bit.

a magazine that finally tells the candid truth

crappie world!

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

flash in the pan

Today at 6:23 I walked out of Left O'Douls with a pile of other people, and then walked over an piked into the Westin Saint Francis.

This was my first flash mob. The first thing I noticed was that Mob's don't read too well. It clearly said, at 6:30, to start treating everyone around you like long lost pals, but people started it up as soon as they got in, meaning that everyone lost a little steam for a minute or two. But for a minute or two the lobby was a pandemonium of "Hey! how are you?! you look great!" with hugs and backslapping all around.

The next stage was to fall to the floor of the lobby and pretend you were dead asleep for several minutes. It was crowded on the floor, people packed in like rats really, someone was on my foot and I was squished between a couple of other people as well. There was a crowd of somewhat stunned, bewildered hotel guests. Security, according to a friend, were in the process of freaking out.

Several minutes up though, everyone stood up, yawned, stretched, and walked out.

It was fun, but a little wierd and against my better instincts of hanging out with a mob of people.

I have to wonder, is there a limit to these, what happens when they get to big and a particular event becomes unmanageable. It will be interesting to see. It would also be interesting to see if they can be hacked, passing out alternate routes as they do for critical mass -- the prototype flash mob if there ever was one. Of course, they could be hacked for ill as well.

A fascinating little cultural phenomenom.

honestly damned

"I would sooner be honestly damned than hypocritically immortalized"
-Davy Crockett
His political career destroyed because he supported the Cherokee. He left Washington D. C. and headed west to Texas

Monday, August 18, 2003

sidewalk hunting

a couple weeks ago two friends of mine organized a brilliant scavenger hunt -- in honor of another friend's birthday. It was a four hour traipse through the Mission District and attuned us to the streets and buildings that many of us walk by every day and never notice. I'm so attuned now that I now walk around neighborhoods and imagine how signs, street names, buildings, whatever could be turned into an insidiously clever clue.

another friend of ours mentioned the same phenomenom. ah games, puzzles, I love 'em.

What's at the end of bay and near the bay, but across another smaller body of water?

Sunday, August 17, 2003

movie review: gunman and cattle

open range
Kevin Costners new movie is a grandly shot film. The scenery is marvellous with constant thunderstorms rolling through and over a little town and the valley it resides in.

Charlie, Kevin's character, is a cowboy riding with Boss, a big guy and a little italian. They live a simple life, "free-grazers" pushing their cattle along, setting up camp, waiting out storms, chasing after lost cattle and horses.

Naturally they wind up in some trouble. Which is all fine and good. The movie is your pretty typical Western in setup. Man with a troubled past, but with good intentions saves the day.

The trouble isn't even really that Costner can't really act. He's okay. The villain, Michael Gambon, is well played, but is perhaps too much of a cliche. You never quite understand why he is so passionate in his hatred for "free grazers." It doesn't quite seem to be just about cold hard cash.

But the real trouble is the romance. Mainly I can't quite see what she sees in the guy. Sure he's sweet to those he likes, but she didn't see that much of that, she saw more of the fact that he was pretty quick and ready to kill. But hey its a movie.

The violence in the movie tends towards the violence of unforgiveable. Short and brutal. Only a little bit of quarter is shown.

What stood out the most was Duvall's performance as the older, wiser cowboy, somewhat of a hardass, but a sweetheart underneath.

There were also some some really good humor, nothing overt, just small little things here and there. Charlie getting all anxious about the mud he's spreading on the parlor carpet after he has been there a couple times. A great line by as they are burying a companing, "You might say some words if you feel like it, but I ain't going to speak to that son of a bitch for what he's let happen"

Anyway, it's a good movie. Not great. But good.

book review: harry does it again

harry potter and the order of phoenix

This is the first harry potter where I had difficulty getting into the story. Not because it is poorly written or the plot and characters weren't interesting, it's just that Harry is so darned annoying.

Frankly, the boy inside of me finds it hard to be symapthetic towards someone who's doing things I've always dreamed of doing - i.e. saving the world. So I was a little tired of his complaining.

Of course, it does show that the author has some talent -- it seems a pretty accurate depiction of the angst of a kid his age who is being neglected in one way or another. it's not just something I'm interested in.

I did find it interesting, having returned to Hogwarts, the students and teachers find themselves under the thumb of a ministry appointed official, intent on making sure people toe the line, and don't stir up any nonsense about the Dark lord Voldemort having made a return.

At first I thought it might be a sly pick at our current regimes in the US and Britain, but in thinking about it, it is pretty much exactly the opposite of what are governments are doing. If it was the US government, they would have had Hogwarts on Orange alert, arrested and registered every pure blood wizard, and developed new magical eavesdropping abilities.

Speaking of the US, it is interesting that the US is not even mentioned in passing. The world seems to consist of Europe primarily, with a couple mentions of China (well a chinese firebolt), and some asian (east asian and indian). It would be interesting to know what wizards in africa, the US, south america and asia are like, and their reaction to Lord You Know Who's Rise.

That digression over, I don't have too much more to say. The book reads like the others -- a similar structure (hints of what is to come while at home, the ride to school, a burgeoning mystery of some sort, the usual red herrings, the usual villains at school), with a deepening darkness and sophistication in vocabulary and themes. Which is to say that it is a fun ride and interesting read.

I'm keen for the next book, but will not hold my breath. Any bets on how many years?

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

book review: automotan

The Turk
by Tom Standage

In the 1700s an Austrian man by the name of Kempelmen built a seemingly marvelous automotan that could play chess. The machine's career was much longer than it's makers, and travelled all over Europe and America winning many more chess games than it lost.

The book explores the history of the automotan and the showmen engineers (in particular Maezel) who built, maintained and displayed it. It was the first cabinet magic ever done, and while nearly everyone guessed it was a trick the exact mechanism wasn't known publicly until the 1800s. Everywhere it went it elicited much excitment, and when on to inspire many a man -- Charles Babbage, PT Barnum and Edmund Cartwright (who went on to buld his own machines revolutionizing the textile industry). Edgar Alan Poe's fame might possibly rest on his written expose of the Turk, the essay also considered the prototype for the modern detective novel.

It's a good, interesting story, both in terms of the people and the machine. For me, I was a little dubious as to how much the Turk actually inspired, but it did remind me again of the whole way technological process is made: by the slow piling on of new information, new complexity so that more and more can be done. We stand not on the shoulders of giants so much, as the shoulders of a gazillion midgets.

movie review: Not your Bogart's Casablanca

Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets

"Life" yells the gang spokesman, and the rest of the young urchins shout, "Is a pile of shit!" And indeed so it seems to be for the four kids who are the focus of this movie. Ali, the title character is killed by a stone in the first couple scenes of the movie, by members of the gang they were escaping. The three remaining kids are left somewhat shiftless, not knowing if they should try to join back with the gang, or stay out on their own.

The gang is no happy home. It's lead by Dib, an older deaf and dumb kid who seems somewhat psychotic -- too many knife fights and too much glue sniffed -- and his little charges are terrorized in to submission.

Ali had just been telling one of his little gang Kwita that he was off for the sea, and Kwita decides that just because his life was shit doesn't mean that he has to be buried like shit. Omar and Boubker his two companions are dubious about the goal, and it is no easy road to hold to as the days progress. The gang leader wants them back, they are constantly being chased out of their makeshift home on the docks, and they fight amongst themselves alot.

It is not always an easy movie to watch, there are several violent scenes that are pretty minimal when compared to your average shoot em up movie, but much harder to stomach. I can't imagine having to grow up under those conditions. But it is a beautifully shot movie, some amazingly lit scenes, and then interspersed with the occassional imaginings of Kwita done in chalk animation.

The kids too, are amazing to watch, at turns sad, laughing happy, taciturn, and downright mean and ugly. I wonder how much of it was acting, whether that was how they lived.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

money technology

Top 10 inventions in Money Technology -- an interesting list. Apparently the first ATM was invented in 1939!

Thursday, August 07, 2003

my card

yes I'm very proud of it. first time I've done any celtic stuff in a while. the birds, and t&l are my own, the b and g on the sides are adaptations of this book on constructing celtic designs i have.

tom and laura get married



clouds above newark, nj

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

returned again

yesterday, i was so wiped from my trip to New York that I slept for 12 hours straight. if the red-eye weren't enough on friday, i went out with my sister after the wedding, and ended up at a karaoke bar at 3am, singing They Might Be Giants, to a crowd of her friends, including 2 Irishman and an Australian -- lots of bad liquor in shot form.

the wedding was great, beautiful, in Manhattan in some rooftop studio place used for events and photography. with a grand gritty view of New York, the Penn Station train yard, the Hudson and New Jersey across the way.

The worst part of the trip, including the red eye, was sitting on the tarmac for 3 hours in our plane waiting to be released into thunderstorm filled skies.

The clouds, by the way, were amazing, both from the ground and above, but even more from above. As we finally left the ground, climbing towards our cruising altitude, the light was sublime, sun rays sneaking through the layers of clouds, setting the lowest levels aglow, dark thundertowers way off in the distance, the ground already dark and mysterious, every manner of cloud in between ground and sky. Have some decent pictures I'll put up.