Showing posts with label off topic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label off topic. Show all posts

Friday, July 04, 2014

My African media shoeboxes

The month-long African safari is in progress!

Lightly-processed safari photos are accumulating on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/phyz/sets/72157645336319582/

Accommodations and other random shots are accumulating here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/phyz/sets/72157644963423317/

Videos are accumulating here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/deanbaird

The blog at Outdoor Safari Photographers. I was/am with them June 16-20 (Machaba), June 28-July 2 (Chobe/Pangolin), and July 5-9 (Elephant Plains).
http://www.odpsafaris.com/blog/#.U7Zt1hY_aGk

Further details when I return.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The new adventures of old Star Trek

Did you know about this and not tell me?

Star Trek Continues E01 "Pilgrim of Eternity"



Jimmy Doohan's son playing Scotty? Marina Sirtis as the ship's computer? Nichelle Nichols guest appearance?

It's certainly not J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. And I count that as a plus, as I've seen about as much emotion splashing out of Zachary Quinto's Spock as I care to.

This holds true to The Original Series' aesthetics and sensibilities, for better or worse. And I'll apologize right now for the hour you're about to lose watching this. If you're a TOS fan, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Twenty-eight years at Rio

Rio Americano is 50 years old this year. We're trying to celebrate it. So there is cause for thoughts of nostalgia. Faculty and staff get a portrait taken every year. Sometimes, those portraits get included in the school's yearbook.

As far as I know, I never missed a portrait and I've never thrown the resulting photos out. But 28 years is a long time, and it turns out I was only able to lay hands on images from half the years of my tenure.
The rest were cobbled together from the yearbook, for the most part.

In any case, here it is: portrait shots (mostly official) or yearbook shots from each year, 1986-2013. Nostalgia? Narcissism? Entropy? Vanity? Garfunkelization? Decide for yourself. Traveling downward along a column, each photo moves you seven years forward. Click to embiggen... if you dare.

Twenty-Eight_Years_at_Rio.001

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Challenge: Crazy bell schedule shoot-out!

When I arrived at Rio Americano in 1986, the school had a bell schedule I didn't expect.

Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays were traditional 6-period days, but Wednesdays and Thursdays were "block days": the bells rang at the same time, but students would attend—on Wednesdays—1st period for two hours, then 3rd period for two hours, then 5th period for two hours. On Thursdays, it was 2nd, 4th, and 6th periods for two hours. The passing period served as a optional break to be used or not at each teacher's discretion. There was also a 10-minute "nutrition" break added to the passing period between 2nd and 3rd period (and between the morning blocks).

The block period was generally popular with science and language teachers, and generally unpopular with math teachers. From time to time over the many years of my tenure, the faculty was asked to vote on whether or not to continue the block schedule. The block won every vote. As more votes were held, the block's margin of victory increased.

Then it was decided that all schools in the district would implement "faculty collaboration". Districtwide, all school's would release students early on Thursday; Thursday became the "short day".

So we had to move our blocks to Tuesday and Wednesday. (A vote to discontinue the block was held; again this push failed.)

Then it was discovered that due to the logistics of administering state-mandated tests that are not given to seniors, our schedule fell short of the state-mandated number of instructional minutes. So mid-block breaks were eliminated. That meant six fewer bell-rings on block days, but the other bells rang at the same time.

Next it was decided that if we increased periods by a minute and reduced our mid-morning break, already down to 8 minutes down to 5 minutes), we could legally allow seniors not to attend school during the administration of state-mandated tests they could not take. Otherwise we would need to warehouse them during those hours.

This brought a bit of "pain" to teachers and students every school day of the year, but eased the administrative burden to the school during April's test week. After trying that for a year, teachers voted to abandon it so as to restore the mid-morning break.

But instead of returning to the schedule we used two years ago, it has been decided that we need to do this:

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY
1 7:50 - 8:49 7:50 - 9:53 - - - - - - - - 7:50 - 8:37 7:50 - 8:49
2 8:54 - 9:54 - - - - - - - - 7:50 - 9:53 8:42 - 9:30 8:54 - 9:54
3 10:06 - 11:06 10:07 - 12:11 - - - - - - - - 9:42 - 10:29 10:06 - 11:06
4 11:11 - 12:11 - - - - - - - - 10:07 - 12:11 10:34 - 11:21 11:11 - 12:11
5 12:46 - 1:46 12:48 - 2:50 - - - - - - - - 11:26 - 12:13 12:46 - 1:46
6 1:51 - 2:50 - - - - - - - - 12:48 - 2:50 12:48 - 1:35 1:51 - 2:50

While this is the craziest bell schedule I've encountered in my 27 years of teaching, it may not be the craziest bell schedule out there.

I challenge you to present a crazier, verifiable high school bell schedule.

My verification link: Rio Americano Bell Schedule. (Lest you think I was making this up.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer 2013 California Oregon Montana Wyoming

This summer's road trip had the AAPT SM13 at its nucleus. I drove from Sacramento to Portland slowly, via Yreka, Bandon, and Astoria. The first draft of a photo album is at

2013 07b California Oregon

After AAPT SM13, it was off to Montana and Wyoming: Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and The Tetons. That album of previews is currently in progress at

2013 07d Montana Wyoming

Regularly scheduled blogging will resume sometime in August.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

AAPT SM13 Personal Jumblepost

This will be the reservoir for the union of the sets AAPT SM13 and Dean Baird. It will evolve a bit in the near term and will require a bit of patience while I get it all together (hence references with no links). And it may appear to be a wee bit random.

First and foremost: my groupie pic with my former student and current physics teaching "neighbor," Jessica Scheimer. We're showing off my bootleg AAPT SM13 T-shirt design. (Click to embiggen.)

W42 Skepticism in the Classroom went very well indeed, despite the absence of my co-conspirator, Matt Lowry. Dean Baird's SitC Page. Matt Lowry's SitC Page.

Evidence of the High School Share-a-Thon will go here once I am made aware of it.

Bruce Mason prepared a list from the Video Share-a-thon (CKRL05).

There's an App for that Crackerbarrel session info

Demo Show Ballet
Photographs I recorded from the second balcony. (Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ200)



High speed video of the dancers: Vid1 Vid2 Vid3







Other high speed vids from the show

Voodoo Doughnut

Friday, July 05, 2013

Cal Expo fireworks photo shoot

Fireworks are a tempting subject for anyone with a camera. Since I count photography as a serious hobby, I am subject to this temptation.

But shooting fireworks is non-trivial. What aperture? What shutter speed? What ISO? Modern cameras have been programmed to record nice images in a variety of settings. But not so much for fireworks. A fast shutter, suitable for handheld shooting, is nearly useless (except, perhaps, during the finale). If you google "fireworks photography," you will find no shortage of photography tips.

Here's a reasonably good one I just came across (7/5/13) from Sigma.

Additional challenges arise when you are unfamiliar with the venue. How big will the 'works be in your field of view? Which way is the wind blowing?

I use a tripod and a 24-70mm lens. I now use an aperture of f/8 and a shutter speed of "bulb". I use a cable release to open and close the shutter. For my shoot in Washington, DC last year, my shots were a bit wider than they needed to be as I was a significant distance from the show. At Cal Expo last night, I was right at the show; I felt like my 24mm lens was too narrow. The results didn't necessarily bear that out.

Another challenge is focus. Last year, I used autofocus for each shot. Many shots were spot on, but some were off. The real problem with AF is that it needs a subject to focus on. But if you wait for a burst, then half-press to activate AF, the fragments are well into their trajectory by the time you begin your exposure. Spinning the focus out to a hard infinity doesn't necessarily get you critical focus, either.

It's tough to get good test shots to chimp (examine) during the show. Things happen fast. So last night, my experiment was to use AF on an exposure, chimp it, then switch to manual focus and not touch the lens. The focus seems good, though maybe not perfect.

A couple of things I might have done better... I wasn't sure I was going to out to show, and left it to the last minute. The battery in the camera was on its last bar. The spare battery in the charger was completely dead. My monstrous DSLR defaults to long exposure noise reduction. This may very well be a good thing, but it makes you wait for an interval equal to the exposure time until you can shoot again. It slows you down. Next time, I'll turn it off and see how badly that goes.

Based on advice I had seen, I set the ISO to 200. Since overexposures seemed more likely than underexposures, I'll go with 100 next time. I leave white balance to auto. There may be a better white balance setting to use, but I'm unaware of it.

The real art in shooting is deciding when to open and close the shutter. I try to open when I see a rocket going up and close when the fragments have played out. But it's rarely that simple once the show is on.

A photographer prefers to have a nice foreground in fireworks shots. I managed that for my DC shoot with the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Potomac River. That option is not really available at Cal Expo. (Additional hazards at Cal Expo: Everyone doing their "safe & sane" fireworks in the parking lot. It's like driving through a war zone getting in and out. Getting out is non-trivial; patience is key. And the heavy metal tribute band that 98-Rock thought would be a good idea for pre-fireworks entertainment? Not so much. Next year, I gotta remember earplugs.)

The upside is that with only fireworks in the frame, one needs not show much (if any) restraint in post-processing. Amp up the contrast and saturation to your heart's content.

Here's what I got at Cal Expo last night. [Flickr album]



Here's what I got in Washington, DC last year. [Flickr album]

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rio Americano staff flash mob

My friend, Christy Thomas, is Rio's tireless Student Government advisor. Along with a secret cadre of students, she put in the hard labor to organize a staff flash mob for today's rally.

YouTube Link 1. I am mostly obscured by tall Max K in this one. Such good fortune! More videos of this historic event will likely emerge, though. So I'm not out of the woods just yet.



YouTube Link 2. From the Senior Section. Much better sound and I'm nearly invisible. Win win!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What time should high school start?

When I came to Rio Americano High School in 1986, school started at 8:10am. That's when "2nd period" started. First period was for a few early-risers and bus-riders. At some point, 1st period became zero period so that first period was when the day began for most of the school.

Transportation (bussing) then required that we move the start time to 8:00am. State/district requirements for teaching minutes then moved the start of the school day to 7:50am. Recently, the district essentially ended its transportation services. We still start school at 7:50am. But now it's out of inertial tradition rather than transportation necessity.

A group of concerned parents tried to lobby the school district to move the start of school to a later time. The district waved them off, telling them to focus their attention on our school as a pilot project, and then take it from there.

The parents gathered the current research on the topic and presented it to parents, administrators, and faculty. The research was compelling. There were positive outcomes wherever schools moved the start of school to a later time. None of the schools that delayed start times ever went back to earlier start times.

But moving the school start time required approval of the faculty per their bargaining agreement with the district.

Concerns were raised about potential impact on athletics. Concerns were raised about personal scheduling inconveniences. Many simply didn't believe the body of research. Nobody could find research that showed negative consequences to delaying the start of school. All of the concerns that were raised had been dealt with at other schools when they delayed their start times.

I compiled a resource page of pros, cons, and rebuttals.

I found the arguments in favor compelling in terms of student gains. I found the arguments against to be unrelated to student achievement. To me it was a matter of moving school to where the students were.

The proposal was to try a modified schedule for two years. The modification was to move the school schedule by 30 minutes (the minimum change recommended by the research).

The faculty rejected the proposal; a minority of 43% voted in favor of the proposal.

In informal polls, students, staff, and parents rejected the proposal by varying margins. The status quo is a powerful thing. Much more powerful than academic and medical research.

Interestingly, high-performing Gunn High School in Palo Alto recently changed their schedule to delay the start of school. It appears this was a district initiative rather than a faculty-spproved measure. The Gunn approach might be the only way to overcome school schedule inertia.

EDITED TO ADD: Right on the Left Coast is a blog authored by a conservative math teacher at my school. You can read his account, "The Furor Over Start Time."

Though not mentioned in the original post, he did admit how he voted and why in the comments: "I voted against this proposal ... because it screwed things up with my son and me. You see, he goes to a different high school, which would still be on the current schedule, and on days when I pick him up to come to our house, he already waits at least a half-hour for me at school. This new schedule would have him wait an hour."

There you have it. A few years of logistical inconvenience for one outweighs the documented health benefits of the entire student body. Amazing.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Iceland observations - independence and isolation

Ski week is a dangerous time for me. I rarely do much traveling, and that leaves me idle to search out summer travel opportunities. This year I found a photographer trip to Iceland offered by Andy Long of First Light Tours.

Iceland is known as a wonderland to landscape and nature photographers. It had been on my list for some time. I wanted to go, but I wanted to go with photographers. The First Light trip was a match, so I proceeded to book it.

Andy Long is a Colorado-based nature photographer who runs a variety of destination workshops every year. He partnered with Michael Kissane of f-Stop Tours in Iceland. Kissane was born and raised in St. Louis, but has lived in Iceland for several years. He's even fluent in Icelandic, and that's no mean feat.

The photo tour was June 24-July 2. I scheduled two additional nights in Reykjavik to extend my stay.

The forecast for Iceland was for temperatures in the 45°F–55°F, overcast with rain. I geared up and packed appropriately. David duChemin's observations in Iceland: A Monograph (iPad app) compelled me to upgrade my tripod. I did a bit of preparatory studying with Insight Guides' Iceland and Profilm's Iceland's Favorite Places.

The journey to Iceland was eventful due to less than professional performance by Delta Airlines. An FAA-imposed weather delay somehow resulted in a loss of my booked seat on the NY to Reykjavik leg of the trip. I'm sure I was supposed to count my lucky stars that I was able to score a bulkhead middle seat in place of the window seat I booked months earlier.

Upon arrival in Iceland, the group (6 photographers and 2 guides) was assembled and whisked off to Gardskaga, our initial shooting location. We got some bird shots, a couple of landscapes and a trip to the Seltún geothermal site in before dinner and rest in Reykjavik. This time of year the sun goes down at midnight and rises at 3am in Iceland. The sky goes somewhat dim, but never dark.

On Day 2, we journeyed north to Hraunfoss (Lava Falls) and Barnafoss (Children's Falls) (yeah, there's an unhappy story that goes with that name). before bedding down in Borgarnes.

On Day 3 day we hopped a ferry to Flatey (Flat Island) out in the Breiðafjörður Fjord. We spent our time on the island shooting birds and a bit of architecture. We returned and made our way to Arnarstapi for terns, fulmars, and a stone cold giant.

On Day 4 we headed for Þingvellir, a site of Icelandic historical significance and where you can straddle two continental plates (North American and Eurasian). From there, it was off to Geysir to take a shot at Strokkur geyser's pre-eruption hot water dome. Yellowstone has a better concentration of wild geothermal features, but I've never seen a geyser erupt like this one. Next was the thunder and mist Gullfoss (Gold Falls). We also took in a curious red-rock crater lake.

On Day 5 we spent some time in chilly solitude at the nicely appointed Flói Nature Reserve before stopping at Selfoss for lunch supplies and Sirius Konsum chocolate. Then it was off to Seljalandsfoss, an delicate, isolated, but popular waterfall. A slick, rocky, muddy, wet trail led around to the back side of the falls. Keeping gear dry and legs underneath were challenges, but image potential was great. Then to Skogafoss, a broader, louder, more popular falls. Then to Vík and Black Beach.

On Day 6 we got some morning puffin shots, then it was in to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon. This was a treasure of great wonder; it was like a dynamic Bryce Canyon. More blue than red, but also in motion. We toured the lagoon in an open-air amphibious waterbus. Later we had a hay-wagon ride six kilometers across a tidal flat to Ingólfshöfði, a reserve that is home to great skua, razorbills, and puffins.

On Day 7 we went to Skaftafell National Park. We were able to hike out to the toe of Skaftafellsjökull. It was a nice trail through moss-covered rocky terrain. We missed Svartifoss somehow. I don't remember why.

On Day 8 we headed back to Reykjavik, retracing our route along the southern segment of Iceland's Ring Road and stopping here and there for pictures, lunch, and chocolate.

On Day 9 the photographer tour was over, but I stayed behind to wander the streets of the city. I got some nice architecture and graffiti shots.

On Day 10, I toured Þórsmörk with an small group and a local guide with a SuperJeep. It was nice to work up into the interior a bit. More of a nature tour than a treasure-trove of photo-ops.

Day 11 it was back to the US, California, and Sacramento. I saw a lot of Iceland and was lucky to have knowledgable guides. But I often felt a bit rushed (because I am, by nature, slow and deliberate). I'm sure the others considered me an impossible slow-poke daudler forever holding up the program.

I'd love to get back to Iceland; I feel like I missed more than I saw. I missed the Bare Landscapes fine art photography gallery exhibition by a few days.

My Iceland finalists photo album is on Flickr.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

No pretense of wisdom

I woke up on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 as I did any other work day: to NPR's Morning Edition. The program includes news updates at regular intervals among long-form stories and features. News of a plane striking the World Trade Center entered the update loop. Not fully awake and alert, I envisioned a low-altitude Cessna somehow lost in morning clouds.

I had no idea.

The other tower was hit. These were passenger jets. And the skies over New York were clear. I eventually turned on my television. (My television is rarely on and is never on in the morning.) Horror from Washington DC was added to horror from NYC. A terrorist attack was underway, and there was no knowing what—if anything—was next.

But school was to start at its regular time, so that's where I needed to be. My colleague, Lucy Jeffries, had a small (5"-screen small) TV in her classroom. I asked her for an update before the start of first period. My recollection is that by then, a plane had also gone down in the farmlands of Pennsylvania. And one tower had fallen. I had known that from the radio coverage, but it was good to make contact with a colleague.

A national tragedy was in the midst of unfolding. It was bad, but little was known. And the first period tardy bell rang on schedule.

What to do? There was no reason to think that there would be any modifications to the school day schedule (and there were none). There were no directives from the school's administration, and none could reasonably have been expected. There you are, classroom physics teacher: a terrorist attack under way on the other side of the country, 30 students in class, and the bell has rung.

I could have sat on a table and rapped with the students, letting them express their feelings and theories about the attack while offering sagely comfort that everything was going to be alright. Would they then repeat this exercise in periods 2 through 6? Would that be a wise way to spend the day? I didn't think so.

I could have tuned into CNN for live coverage and kept the TV going all day, watching the horror unfold on live TV. Towers collapsing, fires burning, bodies falling, and the most horrific images being replayed over and over. My aversion to TV would not have allowed me to do that. As it was, my TV monitor had neither a functional cable connection nor an operational antenna. So live viewing was not an option for me. It was an option in some classrooms, and there were teachers who elected this option.

What did I do? I proceeded with the day's scheduled lesson on motion. Toned down and gentle. But physics. That's what we did.

My head was not in the sand. I did acknowledge the news of the day. I told the students that they would never forget the date or the events of the day. A student asked, "Why 9/11?" I told him that—most likely—that was the day the terrorists were ready to implement their attack. Nothing poetic or symbolic. Just logistical.

By the end of the day, a memo was cobbled together by the school's administration and copied for distribution to all 6th period students. They were to take the memo home to their parents. The memo assured parents that, among other things, none of the classrooms were watching live coverage of the attacks or the aftermath. By then it was clear that watching victims jump to their deaths was inappropriate viewing material for students.

The memo was true for my classroom. I have reason to suspect it was not true of all the classrooms at the school. Prior to that reassuring memo, there had been no administrative directive against watching live coverage. To the best of my knowledge, administrators had not been out in any classrooms that day. So they had no direct knowledge of what was going on in classrooms. And so I saw the memo as an unintentional misrepresentation intended to provide comfort rather than an intentional breech of trust.

I thought about a bright-eyed, optimistic, spirited, joyful student named Gillian who had just begun classes at NYU. She was a key member of PhyzGang 2000, a group of friends who seemed to be having a party that coincided with my 6th period physics class of 1999-2000 and AP Physics 2000-2001. The attacks damaged us all, and real human tragedies occurred on 9/11. But I hated to think of her being in the shadows of the towers as they fell, for what that might do to her.

It was an awful day, and its black cloud was slow to dissipate. As a school, our attempts to mourn the events were heartfelt but at times awkward. I believe it was at the one week anniversary that students were assembled during class time for a remembrance: When a student leader was given the microphone he led the public school student body in prayer. Anyone offended by the notion of public school students being led in prayer during school time was expected to bite his or her tongue out of respect.

It wasn't clear whether or not student-led prayer was to become a regular feature of the mandatory memorials, so prior to the next one (the one month anniversary?) I prepared a simple sign that assured anyone who saw it that "It's OK not to pray." Producing and posting such a thing put a bull's eye on me as being a jerk, but I am such a big fan of church-state separation.

I had occasion to take a commercial flight a few weeks after 9/11. Airport parking had been reconfigured, enhanced security checks, and the uniformed military personnel armed with M16s served as a reminder that the world was now a different place.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Advice for parents of students

I've mentioned before that I've got it pretty good where I teach. Parents are involved in their children's educations and in the school. Highly involved parents are a great thing 99% of the time.

But there is that other 1%. And with student loads of 165, a teacher is likely to encounter a bad experience or two.

Teacher extraordinaire, Ron Clark, penned a note that puts a voice to frustrations teachers have with parents, The behaviors he lists are trending upward.

The article is short, but here are a few highlights.

"If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future."

"If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions."

"If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don't set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It's a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+."

"I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children."


I know there are some awful teachers out there. Education is not valued highly enough to keep them out of the profession. But while legislation is passed to hold teachers accountable for this, that, and the other, none is so much as proposed to hold parents accountable for much of anything.

When a school works, it does so because the community works together. Parents parent, teachers teach, administrators administrate. And students learn.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Extra Credit Opportunities for Rio Physics Students!

Congratulations for checking this note! Here are the opportunities:

1. Biggie:
When: Friday 8/19/11 - 2:00pm-4:00pm
Where: Room B-8 (Baird/Physics)
What: Readying the classroom for class on Monday
Extra Credit Rate 36 pts/hr (Triple the normal rate). Definitely worth skipping the afternoon soaps for.
To sign up for this opportunity, simply show up and be ready to work!

2. Smalls
When: Monday during the Link-Crew Training Block
Where: Football Field Air-Rocket Launching
What: Helping to supervise the launching of air-powered rockets
Extra Credit Rate: 12 pts/hr. Earning extra credit during school time? Sweet!
To sign up for this opportunity, send a note with your info to dean@phyz.org.

Forward the link. Tweet it up! Post it to your FB Wall.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Zangle in Chapter 11 bankruptcy?

How did I miss this news?

I'm not dancing a jig, mind you. I like Teacher Connection to some extent. Partial kludge, but it's operationally functional. Not prone to crashes or downtime.

Gradebook, however, is an unforgivable kludge that I find completely unusable.

My sense is that day-to-day operations will continue without interruption.

Still though.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Don't mess with... Grand Rapids?

I suppose it's only natural for those toiling away in a dying medium to want to point a finger at something else and say, "Hey, that's dying, too!" But when the once-proud print journalism outlet, Newsweek, called my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan a dying city, they invited some blowback.

Grand Rapidians put together some time, talent, energy, and a relatively wee budget to produce a video that rivals OK Go's "This Too Shall Pass" or Feist's "1234" in planning and execution. And it set a record for "lip dub" videos.

Take a look.



No snark. No hate. No Newsweek-bashing. Just enthusiasm and joy. And orchestration, timing, steady-cam dolly work and blocking!

The video went live and was forwarded to Newsweek's Facebook page early and often by dwellers of the dead city. Newsweek retreated:

"we want you to know [the list of dying cities] was done by a website called mainstreet.com--not by Newsweek (it was unfortunately picked up on the Newsweek web site as part of a content sharing deal)--and it uses a methodology that our current editorial team doesn't endorse and wouldn't have employed. It certainly doesn't reflect our view of Grand Rapids.


Nice work, Grand Rapids! 

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Scientist Valentines


Ironic Sans posted this idea years ago. Scientist valentines. Go look; I'll wait.

The idea is genius, and my mind spun with ideas for more. (The creativity is more of a curse than a blessing, I say with as much false modesty as I can muster. Still though, important errands and tasks languished while I set these ideas to electronic realities.)

I've posted a baker's dozen, and hope to add more. I don't have David Friedman's artistic skills, so mine simply exploit images found via Google Image Search. I did try to find portraits made when the scientist was in his prime, rather than the more more prevalent "venerable sage" renderings. After that, I fiddled and fussed over each valentine in my favorite obsolete graphics program, Canvas. The heart surrounded by a planetary-model atom graphic seemed like a good idea. Then I exported them as JPEGs, imported them in Aperture, added captions, and published the set as a collection on Flickr.

Featured scientists (so far) are Bohr, Celsius, Curie, Darwin, Galileo, Heisenberg, Kelvin, Newton, Ohm, Pauli, Sagan, Tesla, and Volta. For the physics-ly uninitiated, I included a brief explanation of each valentine. There's nothing that helps a joke kill so much as taking the time to explain why it's funny.

As a mark of highest flattery, I used a few specific scientist/slogan combos from the original Ironic Sans post. But I added a bunch of my own. I still have a few in the hopper, and there are countless more to be had, conjured by minds cleverer than my own.

Feel free to print and distribute them to appropriately deserving geeks. And I encourage you to develop the similar ideas that spring to your mind. Or leave your ideas in the comments so others might develop them.

There's still plenty of low-lying fruit here. Aristotle: "My natural place is by your side." Copernicus: "My world revolves around you!" Heinrich Hertz: "You and I are on the same wavelength." Charles Coulomb: "I get a charge out of you." William Gilbert: "You've got a magnetic personality."

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Flickr migration is proceeding apace

I'm in the midst of migrating my photo collections from SmugMug to Flickr. I switched to SmugMug from ClubPhoto years ago. ClubPhoto became kludgier as time went by, and I reached the limit of my patience with them. ClubPhoto went under not long after I jumped ship.

I've been happy with my SmugMug. It allowed me to upload (and others to download) full resolution images. Navigation was always easy. SmugMug was a subscription service; there were no annoying ads for visitors. SmugMug has always been Mac friendly, and added tools that allowed for easy Facebook and Twitter sharing.

So why the migration to Flickr?

Apple has "blessed" Flickr. I use Aperture, and the latest version includes easy publishing to Flickr. This built-in "publication" utility allows for subsequent synchronization of published albums when images are modified or metadata is updated. I understand that iPhoto features a similar built-in utility.

107 6 AnnabelAppleTV accesses Flickr accounts so that one can display images and slideshows on an HDTV via the web.

Why has Apple so blessed the Flickr photosharing service while snubbing all the others? I don't know. Am I happy about it? No. Is it trivial to move thousands of photos from one service to another? Not at all.

I'm dealing with the reality imposed upon me. At the other end of this labor, I'll have online albums that can easily be updated and that can be seen on anyone's HDTV via AppleTV. Most of my extant SmugMug albums are now up. There's still a bit of work to do (especially with Rio Phyz albums), but most things are in place.

The SmugMug albums at phyz.smugmug.com will remain online until my subscription runs out in October. The Flickr albums can be accessed via flickr.com/phyz, but I prefer the "Collections" page as a starting point.