Monthly Archives: January 2014

Only 960

960-0It’s important to begin this with due proper credit. This is not my idea; I’m doing a bit of a riff on an idea that belongs to someone else. But it’s such a great idea that I think not only should it be shared but embraced. At the end, I will encourage you to do your own riff, your own version of the 960.

Science fans who spend a lot of time on the interweb (I’m sure there must be some who don’t) are familiar with Randall Monroe‘s outstanding über-geek web comic, xkcd. There is a lesser-known one, Abstruse Goose, that I think is in the same class and which has connected with me even more than xkcd has (which is to say: oodles). So far, for me no other web comics come anywhere close to these two.

This post is about 900+ little blobs, and it is an idea from Abstruse Goose.

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Sunhenge Moment

sunlightWhoops! I was delighted yesterday when I saw the sun was once again shining into my living room. During the depth of winter it’s too low in the sky for the rays to get past the (rather deep) skylight well in the ceiling.

Seeing it yesterday required three things I’ve been waiting for: The sun to get high enough in the sky (obviously); for it to be not cloudy, which has been a problem recently; and for the snow and (weirdly) the grime to melt off the skylight itself. The snow cover isn’t unusual, but I’ve never seen grime before!

Anyway, hooray, yesterday it happened. And then I woke this morning to winter again!

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BB #34: Album of Faves

Skull and RosesSo I’m sitting here getting absolutely no work done on today’s post because I can’t stop getting totally into the music I’m listening to. The problem is that I really love seven of the eleven cuts. Four of the seven rank very high in my favorites list, and one of them is on my all time favorites short list!

It’s ironic that a fairly vanilla song from a fairly vanilla singer-songwriter is such favorite, but the truth is, a good jam band can go off on anything. Maybe it’s the high degree of contrast between the original, which I think uses only five notes or so, and the mouth-watering jam.

Or maybe Grateful Dead can just play the hell out of Me & Bobby McGee!

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2001: Visual Tone Poem

2001-0I mentioned Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey recently. It’s actually one of my favorite films, although by “favorite” I mean it makes my Top 25 Best Films list (or it would if I ever made one). I consider it a major landmark in the cinema landscape.

I’m not sure it makes my Top 25 Favorite Films list, but that’s only because there are so many others I love for reasons beyond their mere quality. It would probably make the Top 50 list, and I’m sure it’s in my Top 100. Some find it opaque or pointless, but to me it’s a visual tone poem that’s as beautiful as it is technically accomplished.

When I say that last part, people sometimes ask me what a visual tone poem is.

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Push Down Stack

plates-0Maybe you’ve been in a cafeteria and seen those spring-loaded plate dispensers. It’s a big stack of plates in a tube with a spring. As plates are removed, the lower ones are pushed up into sight. Pez dispensers and most gun magazines operate with a similar principle.

Sometimes someone comes along and dumps a new bunch of plates on top of whatever is in the stack at the time. One thing about a stack like this: if you do keep putting new on top of old, the old is never used. In some cafeterias, there might be a plate on the bottom of some stack that’s been there since the place opened in 1958!

One formal term for such a dispenser is a Push Down Stack.

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2014 (redux)

JanusPerhaps it is a personal penchant for irony-leavened paradox that has me pen a post titled 2014 that turns out to be more a look backwards. The dash of irony comes from the explicit mention of not being one who spends much time looking back!

But, also as mentioned, there is a time and place for most things, and January is a more ideal place for that than you may realize. The month is named after the roman god,  Janus, god of beginnings and transitions, who has both a backward- and forward-looking face. The turning of the year is the time and place for both.

So here is a bit more looking back and looking forward.

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2001What a thing to behold: 2014! I found it a bit startling to reach 2010; by now these high numbers seem almost normal. Some born in this millennium are already teenagers and aren’t far from voting age. For those of us born back in the fitties, it can be a little eerie.

When Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey came out in April 1968, I was in seventh grade and already a hard-core science fiction fan. Back then, 2001 seemed so far off that anything was possible. We first walked on the moon just over a year later in July. (My beloved Star Trek had been on the air since September 1966!)

I even remember when George Orwell‘s 1984 seemed very far off!

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