Interpreting light

On Julius Shulman:

He doesn’t shoot digital and has no plans to start. He bought an exposure meter in 1936 and tossed it the same year because he didn’t want to lose the ability to read light himself. If you can’t interpret light and the way in which it plays with and defines its subjects, if you can’t understand the subtle and not-so-subtle rhythms of the sun, if you can’t recognize an architect’s intent the minute you walk into a room, no amount of money you spend on a camera will make you a photographer.

Lens Master – Los Angeles Magazine

Bird Strikes

Sonic Arboretum at the ICA

This was amazing. Without question the coolest thing at the ICA. See it before it closes!

Sonic Arboretum
Ian Schneller (speakers) & Andrew Bird (music)
ICA Boston
February 4–May 10, 2015

The Apple Watch

I read a lot of tech journalism. Not because I consume a lot of technology, but because I create it–this is my world, and I feel obliged to know what’s going on. But most tech writing is pretty bad.

So I was not very surprised that, since the announcement of the Apple Watch, everyone started writing about it as if the smartwatch itself was a new technology that will disrupt everything. Apple could release a new doorstop tomorrow and, though I’m sure it would be very nice and packaged in an attractive box, it would be hailed as a revolutionary change in the history of propping doors.

What I did not expect is a flurry of stories written as if the high-end wristwatch itself has just been invented. What are the relative merits of this band or that? How do they get it to be so shiny? Look how difficult it is to manufacture a complicated thing in such a small package– I saw it myself in this flawlessly-illuminated industrial film!

Sorry, but these problems were solved elegantly 100 years ago with gears, creativity, imagination, and magnification. And for the record I’m no longer impressed by the formula of, “It’s like X, but with a computer inside.”

On the Germanwings crash

Investigators announced today that the plane crash in the French Alps was an intentional act by the first officer. It happened while the captain was locked out of the cockpit and unable to regain entry.

After the terrorist attacks in 2001, hardened cockpit doors were universally lauded as a sensible anti-terrorism measure. It is clear from this incident that there is at least one drawback: they fundamentally undermine one of the safety benefits of the 2-pilot system. I have to wonder, will anyone publicly revisit this discussion?


GoToMeeting fail

Things I am thankful for: conference calls with slideshows. Because I love having to infect my computer with your shitty corporate software that can’t even upgrade itself like it’s 2014.

Strange things I found in the basement

I’ve been clearing out our basement on and off throughout the year. And by “clearing,” I mean that I have demolished pretty much everything that wasn’t holding up the house. Some findings:

2014-11-08 18.11.35 Jars of fasteners, mostly attached to the ceiling. Already proving useful. Given the number of jars, I can safely conclude that a previous owner had a serious weakness for herring!

2014-11-08 18.13.22 Hazardous chemicals and outdated electrical paraphernalia. Inevitable.

2014-11-08 18.28.12 A giant bundle of colorful cloth-braided telephone interconnect wire. I can’t bring myself to throw it out. They don’t make wire this visually interesting anymore. Back in the heyday of copper phone service, Ma Bell had a complicated color coding system to help differentiate the hundreds or thousands of pairs found in cables and wiring plants. I’m more familiar with the major/minor 2-color scheme used today, but some of these wires have 3 colors. Good luck sorting that out!

2014-11-08 18.23.22 A lump of coal. Saving it for Christmas.

2014-11-08 18.15.19 A wooden box for a Davidson Patent Fountain Syringe, No. 16. Suitable for use as “irrigator, vaginal, anal, childs, sprinkler, and nasal.” I’d prefer not to think about it. The box is full of mismatched iron hinges.

2014-11-08 18.22.45 From above the ceiling and behind the walls, a cornucopia of tools. Everything from a tiny oiler to an arborist’s pole saw to a hefty axe marked “property of City of Boston, Sewer Division.” And a rusty cleaver (Halloween?).

2014-11-08 18.17.29 Ancient and modern sandpaper from Minnesota’s favorite Mining and Manufacturing company.

2014-11-08 18.26.34 2014-11-08 18.26.53 The “Winter Vacation Section” from the December 4, 1949 Boston Globe. I wish we could still travel to Florida on the only railroad “streamlined for streamliners.” Or get travel planning help from Miss Hospitality.

2014-11-08 18.27.23 It was rolled into a tube bound with wire and used as pipe “insulation.”

2014-11-08 18.29.01 A bottle of booze hidden in a secret crevice behind the workbench. Because life was harder back in the day.