Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Closer Look at Jupiter

As the rest of you geeks may know (Brian), the New Horizons probe was launched last January on its 14-year trip to be the first man-made object to visit Pluto and its 3 moons. It is slated to arrive on July 14, 2015, at which time I will be 39, Lilah will be 8, and Harley will still be 29.

The probe is making a quick stop at Jupiter to do what's called a gravity-assist and increase its speed. This speed boost reduces the legnth of the trip by 3 years. When it finally arrives at Pluto, it will be 3 billion miles from Earth, with radio signals taking 4.5 hours to reach us.

Fourteen years might sound like a long time, but this probe is moving fast! After Jupiter, it will be going 52,000 miles per hour. And consider this: it took the probe only 9 hours to get from the Earth to the Moon; the Apollo missions took 3 days.

The probe has the most sohosticated equipment ever sent into outer space and should provide some amazing imagery. I can't wait!

P.S. My previous Star Trek blog has nothing to do with this posting.

A New Star Trek Movie?

That's right, true believers. Pre-production works has started on a new Star Trek movie to be directed by none other than J.J. Abrams, co-creator of Lost and director Mission: Impossible III.

The film is rumored to a prequel, with the first meeting between James Kirk and Mr. Spock at Starfleet Academy. Rumors say that Jin, the Korean guy from Lost, will play Sulu.

After the not-so-stellar Enterprise TV series, I'm not sure the world is interested in the standard Star Trek storyline. Hopefully, Abrams can bring some intrigue and character development to the mix. I'll see it no matter what. Geeks of the World Unite!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Iraq Fatalities & Rebuilding the Temple

This map of colation fatalities in Iraq comes from Brian. He sent it to me today and is expectingn me to post it. Your damn right I'm posting it!

This website is part of the portfolio of an interative designer. He's got some cool stuff besdies this map. Check out this recontruction of the Jewish Temple in Israel. Makes me want to go to services. Well, sort of. OK, not.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Worst Thing Ever

I'm in between holes on my belt. One hole makes them too loose and they fall down; the next makes them too tight and it's uncomfortable. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to tuck my shirt in, that why I could hide loose pants. But I already tucked this morning and now my shirt is all wrinkled, so I have to stay tucked. This is the worst thing ever!

Blog Spam

Ever since I registered with Technorati, I've been getting spam comments. I'm not used to getting comments on my blog. The people that read it tend to not leave messages. (I'm talking to you, Harley/Brian/Bill/Jen!!)

Now, I get a comment or two on most of my postings. Check out some of the amazing things my adoring public wants to tell me:

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Thank you both for the wonderful responses! Now if you'll excuse me, there's a certain "best browser in history" I need to check out.

I Hat eJazz Hands

That's right, I hate jazz hands. You know what I mean. When people in musicals wave their fingers, as if just singing and dancing isn't enough. And jazz hands comes with the big smiles and wide eyes of everyoine involved. Thery have to LOOK like they are having fun, and having been in a few musicals myself, I know how NOT fun that is. It's distracting to watch and adds to a corniness that turns me off from Broadway. (I still love it, though; Jersey Boys blog to come soon.)

I wonder why everyone in the theater world does jazz hands. Why is it the norm? I say that musical theater attracts people that like the way things are done today. People that come into it now continue what was done yesterday. If people entered the musical theater world and hated jazz hands, they still might be more inclined to go along with what the standard is. The standard conventions are perpetuated because they work, so why change?

I asked Harley, a musical theater person, her take, and she had an interesting perspective. Theater is hyper-reality, everything is in a heightened state. Talk turns to music when words just can't say enough. Jazz hands add more dynamism to this hyper-reality. I guess regular hands just aren't enough.

I tried doing this in more normal life. I did "washing the dishes hands", and "brushing my teeth hands." It sucked there too. Maybe I'll try the opposite, "understated hands" next time I rub Harley's feet. Yeah, that'll show her!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mmm... Cake!

The coronation of Louis XVI, her husband, took place during the height of a bread shortage in Paris. This is the context in which Marie Antoinette isincorrectly quoted as joking, "If they have no bread, then let them eat cake!" There is no evidence that this phrase was ever uttered by Marie Antoinette.

When Marie Antoinette actually heard about the bread shortage she wrote, "It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness. The king seems to understand this truth; as for myself, I know that in my whole life (even if I live for a hundred years) I shall never forget the day of the coronation."


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Real Robinson Crusoe

I watched Castaway this weekend. I love that movie. It's amazing how a movie about a guy alone on an island can be so interesting. Considering that this is a modern day Robinson Cruseo, I looked into the real person that inspired that story. Here is a quick recap, though longer versions can be found here, here, and here.

Concerned that his ship was not sea-worthy, Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailer requested to be put ashore on an island 400 miles off the coast of Chile. He fully expected another ship to come along soon to come to his rescue very quickly.

As the ship was sailing away from the island, he instantly regretted his decision and ran after the boat to no avail. All he took with him was a musket, gunpowder, carpenter's tools, a knife, a Bible, and his clothing. As time passed, he solitude grew more and more, and he prepared for a long stay alone on the island.

In that time, he built his own shelter and weapons to hunt. He befriended the cats to help keep away the rats at night. When his clothing wore out, he made new ones out of goat's skin. Selkirk's feet became so toughened and calloused that he no longer needed shoes. His healthy diet of fruit, goat meat and milk, and vegetables that had been planted years before by the Spanish, along with vigorous exercise kept him in remarkably healthy shape. Slowly he began to revel in the solitude. After awhile, Selkirk stopped speaking altogether.

He was rescued 4 years and 4 months later by a privateer ship. He had not spoken in so long, he had forgotten some vocabulary and the crew had a difficult time understanding him. Selkirk re-embarked on his career as a privateer and within a year he was master of the ship that rescued him. In 1712 he returned to Scotland £800 richer. In 1713 he published an account of his adventures which were fictionalised six years later by Daniel Defoe in his now famous novel: ‘Robinson Crusoe’.

Alexander Selkirk never adjusted to civilization. He returned to Scotland a rich man from the capture of the Spanish ship, but he made his home in a cave where he lived a reclusive life for the next fifteen years. At the age of forty-five, Selkirk returned to the sea as a first mate on the English man-of-war ‘Weymouth’. He died after drinking water infected with a tropical disease.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Maps of Tectonic Shift is a cool site with maps of the Earth from all the different epochs. The Earthas been around for a LONG time, so you might be surprised how much it has changed.

Make sure you browse the maps in the Earth History section. Unreal. The animations were a little disappointing to me, but I watch too much Discovery Channel to begin with.

Below is 150 million years in the future, where Los Angeles becomes a sub-urb of San Fransico and Australia and Antartica merge together. Check out out the Mediterarnean Mountains in the Future World, once Africa and Eurasia collide. Crazy.

Lost Stuff

I loved Wednesday's episode. Some things to note:

The woman Desmond met in the jewelry store was named Ms. Hawking. I'm sure it's no coincidence that in the previous episode, we saw one of the Others reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. (That was Aldo, who was guarding the building where Karl, Alex's boyfriend was being held.)

Aldo was reading a page about the event horizon, where light bends across the surface of the black hole in funky ways, hiding the black hole itself. (see image, thank you Lostpedia.)

What is the connection? My guess is that the island has a gravitational field around it that hides it from the outside world Just like a Black Hole, the island is there but invisible. They've alluded to something like enough in the past that this is a very probable hypothesis. That would also explain why one of the others is interested in this book. Unless they are geeks like me...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ben & Jerry meet Stepher Colbert

Ben & Jerry's has just released a new flavor in partnership with Stephen Colbert. The press release is a riot. I love how he brings his fake-ideology to any topic. Some hightlights are:

Billed as "the sweet taste of liberty in your mouth," Americone Dream is vanilla ice cream packed with fudge-covered pieces of waffle cone and a caramel—or is that a conservative?—swirl.

"I'm not afraid to say it. Dessert has a well-known liberal agenda," Colbert said in a statement. "What I hope to do with this ice cream is bring some balance back to the freezer case."

I know the B&J brand very well, and I actually think he celebrity flavors are a bad idea. Ben & Jerry were never about following trends or keeping up with pop-culture; they were 2 unknowns from a small town in Vermont that made amazing ice cream. I'd rather see them come up with new flavors that celebrate themselves and their own culute. I'm sure the guys in accounting think about ice cream a lot more than Cobert ever does.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Trey At The Grammys

Take a look at this video of Trey Anastasio of Phish at the Grammy's. Apparently, he brought his sister Very sweet, and you can see the family resemblance.

Why did he bring his sister to the Grammy's? Because he's been fighting with his wife. Apparently, they were in an argument about his drug problem the night he was arrested in Whitehall, NY (whole story here). Then he gets busted and is even more trouble because of his drugs. I guess his wife is REALLY pissed!

Perhaps home life is just too quiet for him. He's spent most of his adult life on tour with Phish. Having a wife and kids always went hand and hand with being away from home. Staying home more often must be a difficult switch. I hope this means reunion!

Paul Simon and John Lennon... the Grammys. A cool little moment. You can see that John is really uncomfortable but still trying to act like he doesn't give a shit. Make sure you watch after they announce the winner. That's the best part.

Personal Note: Is it just me, or does John Lennon remind anyone else of Uncle Larry?? Both tall, both cool, both funny, both dearly missed.

Parts of the Day

Over the years that I've been working, I've developed distinct sections of the wekday. Here is a quick rundown:

First thing: 8:30-9:30am
Early Morning: 9:30-10:30am
By Noon: 10:30-noon

Afternoon: noon-3pm

Late Afternoon: 3-5pm

End-of-Day: after 5

By FedEx: before 9pm

Compare this with the weekend:

Morning: 10am-3pm
Evening: 3-8pm
Night: 8pm-2am

Amazing what working life will do to you!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How to Speak to Pregnant Women

1. When she asks you opinion, try and find 1 thing to say. "I like the color." "It's a little too expensive here." "Is it the right size?" Just one little thing is all she needs to hear.

2. Try and go wth her attitude. If she obviously liked something, then like it also. Same goes when she doesn't like something.

3. If you truly have no opinion, just say "I love it!"

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The "Best" Design

I work in graphic design, which is a highly subjective area. In almost every project, we create a range of designs. Usually, a 1-2 of these designs become lead contenders. Out of these designs, there can only be 1 selected as final. This is where things get interesting.

Design is all about communicating information, transferring knowledge that can be visually decoded and understood. Some designs do this more effectively than others. Some designs are more pleasing and look prettier than others. But beneath it all, design must be judged in how the audience "reads" the design, and if they read what we want them to (this looks delicious, this will clean my teeth, I want to wear this).

So how do we figure out which option works the best? We do consumer research to see what a broad swath of the public think. We look to the design experts and marketers (that's me!) to use their knowledge of the market and experience to give a recommendation. From this, it's still questionable whether the final design selected is "the best" design.

More often than not, clients go for a safe design that isn't too far off from what is already in the market or what they currently do. We push them to take chances and get big returns, but they usually like to go safe for the small but guaranteed win. So which option is "best"?

A colleague of mine at work said, "the best design is the one that everyone agrees upon." This is absolutely true. You can debate 1 design versus another for week, but sometimes the most important part of the whole process is to actually make a decision.

It can be a tough lesson to learn, particularly for designers that get emotionally attached to one design or feel that a particular concept works better on many levels. But this is the awful truth: The "best" design is the one that allows the team to move past the question stage and get on with the project.

Hot Pockets!

I'm not a huge stand-up comedy fan, but this is really funny. It's four and a half minutes on the joys of Hot Pockets.

My favorite line: "You never eat a Hot Pocket and say, 'I'm glad I ate that.'"