Thursday, September 28, 2006

an itchin' 4 teachin'

I just love teaching. Something so exhilarating about sharing a passion with others that want to learn about it. My co-working friend Jami was nice enough to invite me to lecture to her Account Planning class at Academy of Art, here in San Francisco. They were a fun bunch of students. I gave them an in-class experiment of coming up with better questions than the typical. For a spark, I provided the product categories: sports drink, 2 week cruise vacation, "popcorn" movie, pair of $100+ jeans and daily fiber powder.

Here are some of my favorite questions:

"What colors do you hate?" [It was very interesting how many of the groups came-up with color-focused questions in regards to sports drinks.]

"If you had 2 weeks to do whatever you want, what would you do?" [I think this is a great blog post topic; expect this to show up again.]

"If you had a date with Paris Hilton or Brad Pitt (or Your Favorite Celeb), what movie would you take them to see and why?" [I would love to do this exercise and really expand it out to favorite directors/writers/authors, etc.]

"Would you rather yourself or your partner look better in jeans? Why?" [very insightful.]

"Do you not shit often?" [Had to put this here ... threw them a bit of a grapefruit with the ole fiber question. Let them have their shits and giggles...]

What a great experience. My next "gig" will be at Sonoma State in November...

Continuous, undying Flickr love goes here.

More great science and Visualization things...

Remember when I got on my soapbox about visual communications?

I just found on Boing-Boing a post about contest winners in the Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Check them out. I love this visual of Hawaii. As a kid, this would have helped me understand volcanic islands much, much better. How long did I assume they were floating rocks??

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The day the dunks died...

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

Back then, I wasn't the "trend-spotter" I am these days, but I so should have noticed the day the dunks died. If you look at this progression of Dunk Contest Winners taken from the NBA's site, it's obvious isn't it? Dominique, Spud Webb, Jordan, Sky Walker: power and grace. Red, White and Blue like the ABA ball that Dr. J used to dunk. And then in 1991 (when I LOVED the game) Dee Brown wins the contest clad in green with a "trick dunk." That was cool, but not poster-worthy. Also, it wasn't something that would ever be useful in a game. All the other dunks, if only on an intimidation-level, were something that would kick-ass in a game.

Dee's dunk turned it into a circus, and there it has kind of remained ever since. Well, I guess, I stopped watching it, even the highlights ... even on YouTube. I have spent more time seeing how far I can smack a penguin across the ice than watching post 1995 Slam Dunk Contest dunks.

But I still remember how much I loved watching those other four guys take it to the hoop.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Now that's a statue!

This weekend, we all watched the 30 years of National Geographic specials DVD. It was a great trip down memory lane. Highlights of specials "about the planet" before there were multiple cable TV stations and websites about the planet. National Geographic appears to have set a very high bar at an early stage of video-documenting explorations into the world, and that has paid incredible dividends to us as viewers.

While many things struck me, the images of this Motherland statue in Russia, made in recognition of the soviet victory and sacrifices of Russian soldiers in what Americans call World War II. The Soviet Union casualties in WWII is something (and I am shocked by this) that I often forget. Over 20 million reported civilian and military deaths! That is staggering. If you look at this wiki-table, you see that the percentage of population who died in the war is listed at near 14%; the only countries with greater ratios are the substantially less-populated (but deeply tragic) countries of Poland and Lithuania (16%, 14%). [It should be noted that there are several doubts about the true number of deaths suffered by the Soviet Union at this time. But it is safe to say whatever the actual number was, it would be enough to leave your mouth agape.]

I know I have learned this fact before. I have books about WWII where I have seen these tables ... read articles ... encyclopedia entries. However, it is difficult to soak in something like that. We absorb and move on. Could you imagine if you really had to absorb every "surprising" fact? The amount of time it would take to read over the account of a war or maybe the structure of the human body. Texts where every paragraph would have a "Whoa!" moment requiring reflection?

But, monuments like this statue. How remarkable. Has to make you pause. Reflect. Why was this created?

...

Thanks for the pictures.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dream September 25th, 2006

This morning I had a glorious dream. I don't know if it was Eric's post, talking to my dad on Saturday night, or reading Sam's post and remembering the simple joys of childhood (by the way, I think The Shadow Trick is the best post anyone has ever put on the web) ... anyway, I had this incredibly realistic dream where I was at Coffee Call in Baton Rouge with Sam and Mary ordering coffee, hot chocolate and of course some beignets. I had just stood through the long freaking line, ordered, paid, balanced the sticky tray, found a table, was staring at the hot beignets with crumbly sugar atop ... thinking about how incredible it was going to be...

AND I WOKE-UP! It was 3:20am on a Monday morning. I am 2,200 miles from Coffee Call. Coffee Call was a poor man's (aka LSU student's) Cafe du Monde for me. The whole experience was a good reminder that paradise is relative.

Perfect pictures of Coffee Call's tile floor and chairs as well as CDM's coffee and beignets found at respective links.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Marin Headlands

Today, we were going to head to Napa, but decided to take it easy instead .. I took an 8 mile hike that went from bridge to owl... Good stuff.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hulk vs. Thing - A geeky update

As a kid my favorite comic was the Fantastic Four. Marvel has started a new animated show of the FF and they just announced that episode 4 will feature The Thing vs The Hulk (above is a sneakpeak). I have yet to see the show due to our lack of cable, but look forward to the DVDs.

I always loved these match-ups. What is it about this clash of titans that is/was so captivating?! Something more than just monster vs. monster (i.e. Godzilla match-ups). I really think the colors play a huge role. These behemoths of primary color mix-up; The Thing's orange (red+yellow) rocky exterior vs. ole Greenskin (blue + yellow), always sporting those purple pants (red + blue). It is such a simple yet brilliant color clash in the same respect that the strength vs. strength was always such a simple but powerful battle.

Let's take an FF retrospective.

Now, in the first issue they met-up (FF#12). Jack and Stan (Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, fathers of the Marvel way) did not capitalize on the thunderous collision of these guys. They are separated by a pillar of grey ... very ho-hum. And it wasn't The Thing vs. The Hulk .. "The Fantastic Four meet The Hulk." Meet him? "Hey, how's it going?"
By the next meeting (FF#25), they figured out that fans want to see the clash. Unlike the above one, the below images all come from my own collection (this particular issue was previously owned by Cliff Landry, some Cajun dude who was nice enough to devalue this issue my signing the Hulk)

Unfortunately, the balance of power is a bit off here. While the Hulk is much more physically powerful than The Thing, Ben's intellect usually gives him a fighting chance. But this image shows The Thing being out-classed in many ways.This cover (FF #112) is my favorite of the clashes. Very simple. Tells me what I want to see. A superb balance of power. Classic Marvel Headline ... 'Nuff Said! It's all in the eyes ...
I remember thinking this cover was pretty impressive as a kid, the action of the FF balanced with the immense power in the Hulk's frame.This is classic Hulk and classic Thing. Both characters changed physically throughout their careers, but this period of the 80's if my favorite.
Speaking of changing, here we have a spikey Thing fighting a grey Hulk. This may have been one of the few time The Thing was physically more powerful. But this fight scene is pretty disappointing. The color clash is boring. The fight is in "the shadow of Doom," so they don't seem to be fighting to have it out, but just as puppets to Dr. Doom. And just the other day I got a modern graphic novel with this cover ...
I don't know, maybe it is because The Thing is my favorite character, but this is not a very appealing image to me... also the washed out colors takes a bit away.

OK, just a geek update from me. Carry on...

BIRDS!

This morning, I made the 15 minute walk to Blackie's Pasture on the bay. The whole area is a bird sanctuary. However, only 11 acres of land is actually pet-free. While enjoying the birds, I had the whole experience disrupted by tromping dogs. It was quite a shame. There is a leash law, but many people disregard it. It is unfortunate, because there was one woman out playing in the pasture with her dog (unleashed) and she kept the dog out of eyesight of the birds and they were having a blast ... yet, she will probably be the one that gets a citation... whereas the idiot who just stood there whistling as his unleashed dog scared away literally hundreds of birds, just drove off.

ugh. I love dogs, and don't like leash laws ... but they seem to be the only way to control uncomprehending dog-owners. Anyway, here are some pics of the birds pre-dogs. The video is bad quality, but you can hear the chatter they made for much of the morning.





Rodeo Beach

So, we found yet another great beach. This one is pretty fabulous. It is close (no curvy carsick-inducing roads) within the Marin Headlands, like Tennessee Valley Beach (but without a 2 mile hike). However, it featured many of the creatures we saw in the tidepools at Agate Beach. Also, it supposedly feautres a small number of nudists, but we had a sans nudist experience.

We headed to Rodeo Beach post-work and school on Friday evening. In our Marin Hiking Book, we are told to keep an eye out for semi-precious stones. Also, the beach serves to separate the Pacific from a salt marsh. Before we were even there, I smelled the familiar Louisiana smells. Mary is planning to write about our experience, and I gave her first shot at the pics. So my blog entry is just to discuss some other highlights; you can find more about the evening on her blog soon.

The first thing were the rocks... I had a blast "combing the beach" looking for the different colored rocks. They were truly fascinating.Sam mostly enjoyed throwing them back from where they came.After walking along the beach we found some astounding large rocks in the water. It turned out they were quite the thriving communities of animal-life. From the birds sitting atop to the mollusks hugging the bottom.
Exploring the rocks was so much fun; especially when you had to time your viewing with the crashing waves!Sam as usual, chose the high road.
And for those of you concerned about Sam's Chicago stick collection .. he is still finding plenty of sticks in California. However, this time they stay in the area we find them.
Sam's practicing his multiplication here: 50 x 10 = 500

Another great Northern California beach. I really have yet to be disappointed with any of our natural finds. Especially with the lack of crowds. It is nearly unbelievable; I am starting to learn that the endless options probably account for this. The only places that seemed a bit crowded were the tourist destinations: Stinson Beach and Muir Woods. However, aside from those two, we have had so much room for ourselves. And actually circumnavigating the crowds in both those areas is not too difficult.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Now you know...

So, I am not a big fan of graffiti, usually. I read how it is costing San Francisco $30,000,000 a year to clean-up. What a waste.

However, this incident made me chuckle. Say you are at a major tourist attraction where having a beverage would be nice, but there are no near-by stores. Like the top of Mount Tamalpais. So there is a vending machine. The machine is broken (now you know instantly what I mean, these machines never break in taking money, just dispensing product. Isn't that convenient? ) I hate vending machine problems (worse than graffiti), as I have mentioned before. How do you warn others about this problem ...?Thanks to Mary's brother John, for volunteering his money and noticing the sign. Please note: we did not create said graffiti, just appreciated it.

We're not worried!

Many people are concerned about keeping a blog, because you make so much information about yourself "public." This has never been a concern of mine. Regarding material possessions, (a) we don't really care too much, (b) I think most can see we don't have much to offer (especially by Tiburon standards!) We like keeping it simple.

However, obviously the big concern is for the family. But really, do you want to mess with this?!?Swords, shields (one which shoots water), axes, light sabers, punishing hands and swift kicks - it's instant death a tornado of terror, I tells you!